Delta Airlines: A link between tolerance of in-flight porn and private sponsorship of extra-security feel-ups?

Two disturbing incidents involving Delta Airlines converge today on this blog.

English: Arrival Gate of Kotoka International ...

Arrival Gate of Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana

Story One: Delta sponsors additional, needless security checks just because they can.

My family and I traveled to Ghana last June to meet a boy we were working to adopt. The only reason I haven’t told this story until now is that we wanted our adoption, and his citizenship, to be complete before rocking the boat in Ghana, especially with their airport. Now that he is home and officially ours, I feel more free to speak out about this incident.

First, a description of the first layer of security at Accra. After our visit with our son-to-be, we went to the airport for our flight home. Keep in mind that Accra airport security is much better than anything you’ll see here in the United States because it was a launching point for the Underwear Bomber‘s failed attempt to bring down an airplane over Detroit. We had been in Ghana just prior to that attempt and so we have perspective on what security used to be compared to what it is now. It is markedly different and much more secure.

At several checkpoints as you enter the airport, get your boarding passes, check your luggage, etc., there are security guards who actually look you in the eye, and several ask to see your passport, then interrogate you on your travel intentions. You could tell they were profiling. They were actively looking for tell-tale body language that would out someone as not being completely honest about where they were going, what they were carrying, and their return plans.

Next you go through the usual metal detector routine. In my case, one of my bags (my work backpack) had a metal dining fork in one of the pockets from a week prior when I had forgotten to take it out at home after eating lunch at my desk that day. Now, I’m in Accra going to the U.S. so it is now obvious to all that U.S. security completely missed the fork and let me sail on through security with it. Only in Accra…a 3rd world country…did security detect this potentially dangerous object.

And its discovery was not pretty. Two or three other guards converged on the bag and began to interrogate me as to why I had this potentially dangerous object in my bag. I finally convinced them it was an honest mistake and told them to keep it.

SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 12:  Delta Airlines lu...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

This time, the pat-down was even more invasive than the first. They didn’t use the metal detector wands on us at all. Just went straight for the pat-down. They did things to me, my wife, and my kids that, if a stranger outside of a security context had tried, I would have sent him to his Maker for doing.Finally through security, invasive pat-downs and all, we walked through the corridors past various shops to our waiting area for our flight. The waiting area is a sealed off, 3/4 glass room with Delta logos on the fourth and only solid wall inside. At the entrance was another checkpoint complete with metal detectors, guards holding metal detecting wands, and another pat-down. I commented to my wife, “What could they possibly be securing at this point? There were no other entrances that I could see that would compromise security in the last 40 meters. Why do they need to check us twice?”

The rest was a blur. We took our seats, embarrassed and nervous for what we’d gone through again–at a second security checkpoint and wondering if we were in for a third nasty experience. Out of indignation, I grabbed my handheld video camera and made the following video, which pretty much speaks for itself.

(Note: I use very strong words to describe how we felt about this experience. There is no small amount of debate on whether invasive, extreme pat-downs and rape can be equated to each other. What I do know is that, to my wife, my kids, and me, it felt like a violation, which word is often used to describe rape. I’m not here to debate semantics, just to describe how it affected us personally.)

English: TSA insignia

Image via Wikipedia

Unfortunately, I was not able to capture video of my second confrontation with a different agent. As I found out from this second agent, who was a security consultant, privately hired by Delta to manage this checkpoint, my initial understanding of how things worked in the Accra airport was mistaken. I had assumed that the two checkpoints were purely Ghana and TSA operated. As explained to me by the second agent, though, all of the second checkpoint was 100% Delta sponsored and mandated, using TSA guidelines as their approach to security, but that they were not under obligation by the TSA or by Accra airport to provide it. His claim was that Delta was simply ensuring the safety of their passengers in an airport they didn’t consider safe.

I disagree.

Story Two: Anti-Pornography advocate on a Delta flight gets an eyeful of passenger’s violent kiddie-porn. Crew does nothing.

Are you, dear reader, okay with either of these situations?

I’m not.

Exclusive: If we don’t fight, TSA-like security coming to ‘sidewalks,’ ‘football games,’ Texas Rep. warns | The Raw Story

“It needs to stop somewhere,” [Rep. David Simpson (R-TX)] insisted. “If we don’t nip this thing in the bud it’s gonna come to our sidewalks, to our football games. The DHS was considering as recent as five years ago doing covert scanning of the public, but they’ve denied pursuing that any further. That they would consider it shows they have no regard for the Fourth Amendment.”

A spokesperson with the Department of Homeland security refused to comment on the pending legislation, but noted that in many cases still, state laws do not trump the federal government.

via Exclusive: If we don’t fight, TSA-like security coming to ‘sidewalks,’ ‘football games,’ Texas Rep. warns | The Raw Story.

Documents Reveal TSA Research Proposal To Body-Scan Pedestrians, Train Passengers – Andy Greenberg – The Firewall – Forbes

Giving Transportation Security Administration agents a peek under your clothes may soon be a practice that goes well beyond airport checkpoints. Newly uncovered documents show that as early as 2006, the Department of Homeland Security has been planning pilot programs to deploy mobile scanning units that can be set up at public events and in train stations, along with mobile x-ray vans capable of scanning pedestrians on city streets.

via Documents Reveal TSA Research Proposal To Body-Scan Pedestrians, Train Passengers – Andy Greenberg – The Firewall – Forbes.

The Innumeracy Behind Airline Security

There’s a purely mathematical reason why we should not have to suffer patently illegal and unconstitutional indignities at the hands of TSA agents.

We want our President to protect us – at least presidents keep telling us that. There are many ways a president could keep us safe. A smart move would be to allocate protective resources according to the numbers.

A nation that was truly concerned about preventing avoidable deaths would ban smoking tomorrow. It kills 440,000 people each year, according to the CDC, which works out at 50 per hour. Unlike full body scanners and intrusive “pat downs” (and yes, I’ve had one), banning smoking, while unpopular in some quarters and a threat to the livelihood of some (not a factor to take lightly), would not ride roughshod over a constitutional right.

Or how about the president getting serious about eliminating drunk driving, which kills 15,000 people in the U.S. every year, with roughly eight drunk driving fatalities involving teenagers every day.

And don’t let me start about diet, exercise, and obesity. Over 80M people in the United States have one or more forms of cardiovascular disease and over 150,000 Americans under 65 are killed by it each year; 73M have high blood pressure; 17M have coronary heart disease; over 6M suffer a stroke; and 6M have heart failure.

I’m not preaching or talking morals here. In our society we are free to make our own lifestyle decisions. It’s about the math. Spending $85M to buy 500 full body scanners at $170,000 each, and turning the simple act of boarding an airplane into a circus, to try to eliminate a risk that is orders of magnitude less than many other risks people accept in their daily lives is a total waste of public funds, and is possible only because large numbers of people apparently don’t do – or don’t understand – the math.

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The madness of folly

“It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf.” –Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 1, 1776

Elderly woman triggers massive manhunt at DFW

Where is YOUR outrage? Rape victim with pacemaker brutalized by TSA and police

I’m absolutely fuming about this story. Apparently a woman, who also has a pace maker and was a rape victim at some point in her life, was selected for intimidation at the hands of the TSA and three police officers. When she refused an aggressive “enhanced pat down”, she was thrown to the floor, handcuffed, and dragged 25 yards in front of security personnel and everyone else. She’s not only missed her flight to be with friends for Christmas, she’s been utterly banned from entering that airport ever again.

The reaction from people in line behind her was typical of the average American who has taken for granted all the freedoms that God Himself grants us through both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. They blamed the victim of this crime.

You know, I’d like to think that we still have a little humanity left in this country and that we’re not all sheep giving over our free agency to the TSA. I’d like to think that at some point, the other would-be passengers would have done something…anything to put an end to what happened to this poor woman. At some point, I would hope that the “guarantee” of safety would be subsumed by a desire to do what is right and to remind our government who they actually work for.

I’d like to think that at some point the people standing behind the checkpoint and witnessing such an outrageous abuse of civil liberties as this would rise up, create a “situation”, and send a message that We The People are NOT to be trifled with and that when push comes to shove, we WILL shove back.

It’s a fantasy. We The Sheeple have given it all away. There’s nothing left.

Not even dignity.

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TSA Chipmunks Christmas Carol

‎"Hi Johnny, I'm TSA Agent Jimmy. We think there might be a terrorist near the playground, so I need to look & feel in your pants to make sure they didn't put a bomb there when you were playing. Remember how Mommy helped us look when you were at the airport? Well, she's not here now, but you know she would want you to be safe . . ."