Mission Creep at TSA Accelerates

The latest scare tactic employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is that al Qaeda operatives (and by implication, others) are considering implanting bombs surgically into the bodies of suicide bombers and sending them off on commercial air carriers. This scenario — similar to a scheme in the 2001 movie Stiletto Dance — while far-fetched, may indeed be under consideration by one or more terrorists somewhere in the world. Who knows what bizarre schemes and hypotheticals terrorists and wannabees talk about sitting around the dinner table?

The problem is, whenever some new terrorist plot falls into TSA’s in-basket – no matter how far-fetched or hare-brained – it quickly becomes the basis for new and more intrusive techniques to which the agency subjects the flying public. That this then leads to calls for enhanced budgets for TSA is axiomatic.

The timing of TSA’s release of this latest “plot” is suspect, considering the recent and substantial criticism to which TSA has been subject because of its highly questionable tactics; such as repeated pat downs of small children and targeting diapers worn by cancer-ridden octogenarians. No doubt, TSA Administrator John Pistole made sure the “bomb implant” reports were made available quickly to supporters in Congress and the White House.

Even as TSA continues to employ every scare tactic it can muster to justify its existence and large budget, it is extending its reach far beyond the airport checkpoints that have given rise to so many horror stories of invasive pat-downs and naked body scans. At TSA, mission creep has become an art form.

TSA and agents with its parent, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), now consider it their mission to stop private vehicles on highways and search them. They have also begun to search bus and train passengers, sometimes after they exit the carriers; and the feds believe also they have authority to search people at shopping malls and elsewhere, such as sporting events. It is only a short step from such expansive ideas, to the notion that to protect the country, TSA and DHS have to be able enter private homes and businesses in order to ensure there are no terrorist tools therein.

The moniker given to this expansive TSA/DHS program is “VIPR,” short for “Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response”; and the program is moving forward in high gear. According to The Daily Caller, “TSA conducted more than 8,000 VIPR operations in the past 12 months alone.” One of these operations took place on a stretch of Interstate 20 west of Atlanta, Georgia last September; no terrorists or bombs were discovered, but rush hour traffic was brought to a standstill.

The TSA is now rolling out mobile body scanners to set up at these highway check points. After all, a terrorist could just as easily have a bomb implanted in themselves and use a car to transport it rather than a plane. The Cato Institute’s Jim Harper noted two years ago that the “natural illogic of VIPR stings is that terrorism can strike anywhere, so VIPR teams should search anywhere.” Harper was eerily prescient in 2009.

So long as the American people permit themselves to be controlled by public servants enforcing public policies based on abject fear of “terrorists,” the only certainty is that mission creep at TSA and DHS will continue.

By Bob Barr – The Barr Code

19 comments Add your comment


July 15th, 2011
5:46 am

All in the name of protecting the homeland, so was Hitler’s Nazi party, Stalin’s Comunist Party. We are not sliding in that direction, we are already there.

sean in the Mtns

July 15th, 2011
7:05 am

Yeah Bob, and if one of these terrorists is successful in blowing up a plane you will be the first one screaming that they did an ineffective job and should have known of this threat and compensated for it. The TSA is in an impossible situation with you. We want security but don’t want to have to tolerate personal privacy invasion.

Kind of like we want all of the government services, but don’t want to pay for it with higher taxes.

Some americans are schizophrenic.

Stephenson Billings

July 15th, 2011
8:07 am

More security theater. Because we all know those 80 year old wheelchair bound ladies and 6 year old kids are such a threat. Oh goody.

“Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”


July 15th, 2011
8:55 am

My understanding is that some people smuggle herion and other drugs into this country by swallowing condoms filled with the drug.It’s not so far feched to imagime terrorists coming up with some way to hide explosives inside their body. The real problem is how could this be detected? It has to be done, but, I agree there is a better way than what they are planning now.

Peter Manning

July 15th, 2011
9:23 am

I’m sick to death about all the public opinion pieces about the TSA and the DHS. Who cares which side of the security versus civil liberties argument individuals are on. The United States is not a government by popular consensus. We are or, are susposed to be, a democratic republic with a constitution. If a federal judge or the Supreme Court determine that the TSA and DHS are violating the 4th amendment to the constitution, then they should be stopped or abolished. Plenty of law suits have already been filed. We should be putting pressure on the judicial system to exedite these cases. A huge put of our problem is the arrogance of the ivory tower judicial branch of the goverment. For to long these unapproachable, untouchable, tyrants have been fiddling while rome burns! Every judge should be an elected official with a non-renewable term of office.

[...] Mission Creep at TSA AcceleratesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The latest scare tactic employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is that al Qaeda operatives (and by implication, others) are considering implanting bombs surgically into the bodies of suicide bombers and sending them off on …Taxpaers have to come up with more than $100 million after the TSA loses a …10 Connects [...]

Doc OZ

July 15th, 2011
11:18 am

Good news folks…the TSA is going to be offering a free colonoscopy with every plane ticket. It will soon be a requirement that you fast for 24 hours before every flight.


July 15th, 2011
11:21 am

Barack Obama has added more to the national debt than all the president’s before him combined. No wonder the TSA has their hand out for more funding with their scare tactics. The money flows freely from the current tenant in the White House.

Atticus Finch

July 15th, 2011
5:14 pm


July 15th, 2011
5:19 pm

Like or dislike Rush Limbaugh, have to give him credit back in 2002 or whenever George W. Bush came up with the TSA idea and Dept. of Homeland Security, etc. Rush supported Bush but didn’t support those two creations. He warned TSA and DHS would turn into just another bloated federal bureaucracy that over-reached and over-stepped its boundaries. Looks like he was right. Just another bunch of government jobs.


July 15th, 2011
5:20 pm

And when the next would be bomber has a device in a body cavity will we have to submit to a body cavity search? I will not subject myself nor my family to needless radiation exposure nor TSA molestation. My family and I will not be flying until the TSA changes these procedures.

“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.”No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,”



Full Cavity Search

July 15th, 2011
8:48 pm

Yeah Bob the exact same thought occured to me when I read that story a few days ago, especially when TSA went on to say there is no intel to support the surgical implant idea. They’ll float every bugaboo they can get away with to increase their reach and get more funding.

What’s next, robot terrorists might try to sneak through so we need to draw your blood to make sure you’re human?

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Resistance is Not Futile

July 16th, 2011
4:46 am

It is time for everyone actively resist. If you are stopped on the highway, in mall or anywhere else, do not submit to this treatment. We WILL be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects and we WILL NOT tolerate random searches. This ends beginning now.

Raisin Toast Fanatic

July 16th, 2011
6:56 am

Some americans are schizophrenic.

Yes, you certainly are.

Thanks for contributing nothing.


July 16th, 2011
9:22 am

I’d never allow myself to be searched in any way while driving my vehicle nor in any circumstance but the most exceptional unless I was accused of committing a crime. Whether this thing happened in Georgia and whether anyone protested, as everyone should have, would have, is the real question.

StopThe Madness

July 16th, 2011
9:54 pm

Americans need to take a step back and think….people are blindly giving up their rights out of fear. These inconveniences are because DHS and TSA takes security to its most basic, expensive and inefficient level. It is a false sense of security. Terrorists are crazy and they will get past anything at some point. However, the government’s insistence on infringing on the rights of all Americans is out of control.

Richard D

July 18th, 2011
9:49 am

So, does anyone else think that this is evidence of a terrorist victory?

Funky Fred

July 18th, 2011
10:22 am

Where are all these terrorists everyone is so scared of? So petrified they bow down like little sheep being artificially inseminated.

Americans sure are a bunch of cowards these days. Everyone and everything is a terrorist. Or I’ll they’ll succumb to urethra checks “just in case”.

Like forcing themselves to believe in a creator “just in case”

Chicken little putzes. A pox on all of ya who support this tyrannical behavior.