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TSA Making Flying More Miserable

TSA Airport Security

Not surprisingly, TSA is going to make flying even more aggravating in a stupid overreaction to the Detroit terror plot.

In the wake of the terrorism attempt Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal officials on Saturday imposed a new layer of restrictions on travelers that could lengthen lines at airports and limit the ability of international passengers to move about an airplane.

Among other steps being imposed, passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps. Overseas passengers will be restricted to only one carry-on item aboard the plane, and domestic passengers will probably face longer security lines.

The restrictions will again change the routine of air travel, which has undergone an upheaval since the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington in September 2001 and three attempts at air terrorism since then.

[...]

Airline industry executives said the new steps would complicate travel as vacationers return home from Christmas trips, and could also cause travelers to cancel plans for flights in 2010.

[...]

In effect, the restrictions mean that passengers on flights of 90 minutes or less would most likely not be able to leave their seats at all, since airlines do not allow passengers to walk around the cabin while a plane is climbing to its cruising altitude.

The new restrictions began to be instituted Saturday on flights from Canada and Europe to the United States. Air Canada said it was waiving fees for the first checked bag, and it told passengers to be prepared for delays, cancellations and missed connections because of the new limits.

This is mind-numbingly stupid. As Radley Balko notes, these measures “wouldn’t even have done anything to prevent the attempt over the weekend. The guy was in his seat when he tried to light the explosive device. And the passenger who confronted him got out of his seat to do it.”

We’re simply going to make people miserable for no apparent reason.  There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft.  All of them clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers.   How many tens of thousands of flights have been incident free?  And, yet, we’re going to make hundreds of thousands of people endure transcontinental flights without reading materials or the ability to use the restroom?

At least for domestic flights, we have the ability as consumers to tell TSA to stick it and just drive.  More of us are making that choice all the time.  But there’s no real alternative to flight for overseas travel.

UPDATESteve Bainbridge wonders, “Has TSA ever considered the possibility that maybe the terrorists aren’t really interested in blowing up a plane. Maybe the terrorists figure they win everytime we in the West spend millions of man-hours being hassled, inconvenienced, and generally put upon by a myriad of stupid security measures.”

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    We could always put the geniuses who will run healthcare in charge of homeland security. We’ve been assured that they will never make decisions based on over-reaction.

    Sadly there are those in homeland security who know how to improve our security without these stupid show procedures. Unfortunately, they don’t aren’t Ivy League alumni and so are kept out of leadership positions. Only the best and the brightest are permitted to muck up the country.

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  2. [...] James Joyner reacts to the new TSA “security” efforts: [...]

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  3. Herb says:

    This me, pounding my stein on the table, yelling “Hear! Hear!”

    What is the TSA going to do when we’re attacked by a smart terrorist blowing himself up in the security bottleneck? Add a security checkpoint to get into the security checkpoint????

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  4. Dave Schuler says:

    It continues to baffle me that we’re so eager to indemnify the airlines against the consequences of their folly. Is there a more egregious example of corporate welfare than air security?

    The airlines have reasons to want air travel to be more appealing; the TSA doesn’t. For decades the airlines clamored to be in charge of air security. When the hollowness of the measures that they were taking became obvious rather than letting them take the consequences we’ve decided to indemnify them against those consequences. Moral hazard?

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  5. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by OTBTweets: TSA Making Flying More Miserable: Not surprisingly, TSA is going to make flying even more aggravating in a stupid o… http://bit.ly/6SOfiM

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  6. James Joyner says:

    I think most people don’t realize that the airlines were in charge of security pre-9/11. But we’ve basically got the same people doing the screening but with the arrogance that comes with a badge.

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  7. HeatherRadish says:

    remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps.

    …so they’ll set off their explosives 90 minutes before landing. My four-year-old niece is smarter than this.

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  8. [...] to make a binary explosive or IED Update (Ed): James Joyner has more on the response from TSA, including how it wouldn’t have even prevented the attack [...]

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  9. [...] the TSA’s brilliant plan is to torture (in the liberal use of the word) all passengers to give us more of an illusion of safety. We weren’t safe before. Any moron would know that. [...]

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  10. randall in oklahoma says:

    “But we’ve basically got the same people doing the screening but with the arrogance that comes with a badge.”

    James you correct. If you take a federal employee and give them badge, then you’ve created a monster. I’m a federal employee maintaining government aircraft. All that matters is obeying the operating instructions, and procedures, no matter how outdated and irrelevant they are. I’m sure this also applies to the TSA.

    Give a high-school grad a federal badge and the immunity that goes with it, and you get what we have. The American people will only allow law enforcement to police us to a certain level, and I think we are about to that point. I now drive almost everywhere I go.

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  11. steve says:

    “I now drive almost everywhere I go.”

    Even though flying is still safer. Sounds like the terrorists are winning at IO again.

    Steve

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  12. Shade Tail says:

    Does it really surprise anybody how annoying and incompetent this reaction is? The changes to airport “security” since 9/11 have always been annoying and incompetent. This is just another Bush program that has outlived his administration.

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  13. In protest I’m refusing to fly cross-country to see my in-laws. It’s a sacrifice but I really think I should take a stand.

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  14. Richard Gardner says:

    Notice how quickly this knee-jerk response was implemented? I bet these new “measures” were in some operational plan, to be blindly obeyed in the event of an aircraft bombing (successful or not). As this happened on a holiday weekend with many of the DC-based TSA senior officials out of town, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this swiftly rescinded after they’ve experienced the hassle of returning to DC (and the added expense of checking bags, plus boredom of nothing like books in the first/last hour).

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  15. I believe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice has just coined the phrase: “suicide underwear.”

    I suppose we’ll start searching underwear now. Which will in good time lead Al Qaeda to rush development of the “suicide suppository.”

    If that happens I have dibs on the phrases, “Butt Bomb” and “Assicide.”

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  16. Ooo oooo, also: crack pipe bomb. Get it? Crack?

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  17. BeccaM says:

    Flying may be technically safer than driving, on a mile-by-mile basis, but it is also far more humiliating and stressful these days.

    I’d rather take the risk. Life itself is a terminal condition.

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  18. Franklin says:

    There must be something more to this, right? For example, they think that the plane is more vulnerable in the final hour or something. I can’t think of how, but do we really have all the facts here?

    Well, in any case, I’m just going to let my 5-year-old stick his butt into the aisle and take a dump since we’re not allowed to use the bathroom anymore and he rarely knows more than a minute or two in advance that he has to.

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  19. Franklin says:

    Oh, forgot to mention, it’s also a really great idea to prevent people with heart problems from standing up once in a while, especially at the end of a long flight. Luckily, no one will be allowed to get out of their seat to help when these people start having heart attacks.

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  20. [...] the TSA is closing the barn doors after all the horses have [...]

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  21. sam says:

    If only we’d follow my recommendations, none of this stuff would be happening — and note they’re absolute proof against suicide skivvies:

    1) Everyone to fly buck-ass nekkid.

    2) Ipecac administered 1 hour prior to boarding (TSA to supply barf bags).

    3) Full cavity searches instead of scanning.

    4) Folks with artificial limbs will have to leave them behind.

    5) Pacemakers will have to be turned off inflight.

    We cannot allow the terowists to continue to get out panties in a bunch, and my recommendations eliminate the panties.

    I’ve not yet coined a new term for this regime — any suggestions?

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  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    I guess the purpose of the movement restriction is to sow confusion and to create an inconvenience for the would be terrorists by ensuring that they’ll need to choose between blowing up the plane and watching the end of the in flight movie.

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  23. [...] Joyner adds in “TSA Making Flying More Miserable” at Outside the Beltway: This is mind-numbingly [...]

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  24. moremiserable says:

    TSA Making Flying More Miserable

    No, Muslims with bombs are doing that

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  25. [...] Outside the Beltway on the new TSA passenger restrictions – This is mind-numbingly stupid. As Radley Balko notes, these measures “wouldn’t even have done anything to prevent the attempt over the weekend. The guy was in his seat when he tried to light the explosive device. And the passenger who confronted him got out of his seat to do it.” [...]

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  26. [...] TSA Making Flying More Miserable (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  27. [...] if they were the ones making these recommendations. Re-screening at the gate? Of all passengers? James Joyner calls his post "TSA Making Flying More Miserable." Not to quibble, but, is it really the TSA, or [...]

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  28. [...] in the US the Transportation Security Administration is intent on making flying more miserable for the rest of us: Among other steps being imposed, passengers on international flights coming to [...]

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  29. James Joyner says:

    No, Muslims with bombs are doing that

    They’re merely making flying riskier and scarier. It’s our government’s overreaction that’s making it miserable.

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  30. TSA: The Stupid Agency…

    Predictably, TSA is responding to the most recent airplane terrorism incident by piling on even more stupid and ineffectual restrictions on passengers: In the wake of the terrorism attempt Friday on a Northwest Airlines flight, federal officials on Sat…

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  31. DC Loser says:

    The terrorists win when they make us change the way we live. We let our government act like scared little girls everytime something like this happens. Frankly, I’d wish our leaders to tell us to shrug it off and live normal lives and not let the terrorists dictate our behavior on their terms. I didn’t see the British government and public cowering in fear when the IRA was setting off bombs in England in the 70s and 80s. Stiff upper lip and all that. I’m ashamed of the fear mongering from our political leaders and pundits.

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  32. [...] There’s no reason to presume he’s not doing that; all presidents have, after all.  Indeed, TSA has already overreacted, enacting ridiculous new regulations; one hopes the president countermands this in the near future, [...]

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  33. [...] James Joyner:  TSA Making Flying More Miserable [...]

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  34. DC Loser says:

    UPDATE: Steve Bainbridge wonders, “Has TSA ever considered the possibility that maybe the terrorists aren’t really interested in blowing up a plane. Maybe the terrorists figure they win everytime we in the West spend millions of man-hours being hassled, inconvenienced, and generally put upon by a myriad of stupid security measures.”

    As a lifelong civil servant, anytime you create a large bureaucracy to deal with a specific problem, it is not in the interest of said bureaucracy for the root problem to go away. It always seeks to aggregate more power and funding so it in the end becomes a self licking ice cream cone. Prime examples are the DEA and TSA.

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  35. [...] James Joyner notes, since 2001 there have been 3 attempts in tens of thousands of flights and our reaction is to make [...]

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  36. [...] a potential threat is not enough even to trigger additional security checks at the airport? And the answer is to require passengers to remain in their seats for the last hour of all international [...]

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  37. [...] Joyner | Sunday, December 27, 2009 In the thread discussing the idiotic new TSA guidelines issued in overreaction to the Detroit terror plot, longtime commenter DC Loser observes, As a [...]

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  38. [...] Nate Silver, who in the past has put the mainstream media to shame with his statistical predictions of election results, writes on his site, FiveThirtyEight.com: Not going to do any editorializing here; just going to do some non-fancy math. James Joyner asks: [...]

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  39. [...] Montezuma’s revenge is a far more likely occurrence than Khalid Sheikh Mohammed II.  The new TSA regulations are therefore much more likely to force a sick person to either flout security procedures and be [...]

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  40. Balthar says:

    But there’s no real alternative to flight for overseas travel.

    There is for people thinking about visiting the U.S., I am here to tell you: forget about going to the United States! Dollar weakness — and the bargains it has created for foreign visitors — has kept tourists coming. The recent recovery in our currency, combined with the new TSA theatrics, may make this a grim year for our tourism industry.

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  41. [...] was, apparently, sewn into his underwear. James Joyner’s round-up and several follow-up posts here, here, here, here, here and here are probably the best coverage in the blogosphere of the [...]

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  42. [...] Joyner explains it well… “Among other steps being imposed, passengers on international flights coming to the United [...]

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  43. Barry says:

    Herb: “What is the TSA going to do when we’re attacked by a smart terrorist blowing himself up in the security bottleneck? Add a security checkpoint to get into the security checkpoint????”

    I’m astounded that there hasn’t been such an incident; you don’t even have to buy a ticket to get into the security line, so it’d be child’s play. I’d probably go for finishing off a Big Mac and putting the bag into a trash can next to the line, as I walked past, with the bag full of explosives. That way, no suicide needed.

    Then again, it’d have been trivial to have followed up 9/11 with a campaign which would have paralyzed the USA. A set of car bombs in downtowns could have been set up ahead of time, by a completely separate group. Imagine if 9/12,9/13, etc. had each featured a 500-lb bomb going off in a major city – or simply a crowded area in the middle of flyover country.

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  44. [...] Breitbart team this afternoon. Sleep tight. How to make a binary explosive or IED Update (Ed): James Joyner has more on the response from TSA, including how it wouldn’t have even prevented the attack that [...]

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  45. [...] going to do any editorializing here; just going to do some non-fancy math. James Joyner asks: There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism [...]

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