Monday, January 16, 2012

TSA - Terminally Stupid A*Holes?

I had the misfortune to go through the Corpus Christi International Airport recently. That's a very long title for an airport whose terminal isn't long enough to hold all of those letters. The entire airport has 6 gates, one of which is not in service.

This small facility has the most stringent, and perhaps most incompetent, TSA workers I have ever run into.

Leaving the city, I put my possessions into the bins for the X-Ray machine, just as I do every other time I go through an airport. I've got two TSA 'officers' standing over my shoulders while I am doing this. Apparently they are bored, because there is no one else in the security line.

"Sir, you have to remove your belt." I point to the tub that already holds my belt.

"Sir you have to completely empty your pockets." I show him that my keys and change are already in the tub.

"No, sir, your pockets have to be empty." I make a big show of removing my wallet and placing it into the tub. I cleverly beat the system by not taking out the handful of paper money still in one pocket. One of the TSA gentlemen standing over me picks up my wallet and starts thumbing through it. "Hey, you don't need to do that", I tell him, probably a little more forcefully than I should have. He puts it back down into the tub.

I am waved through the machine finally. It is not a metal detector, but one of the new MRI type machines that gives them a great picture of your junk. I don't care. Apparently they don't like the picture, and subject me to a more personal than warranted patdown. Pervert!

I endure without comment, and walk around to get my tubs. My laptop is grabbed by one 'officer'. "I have to inspect this". OK, I say. She steps over to the swab station. Another 'officer' picks up my shoes, and gets in line at the swab station.

"Don't touch anything, sir," I am admonished as I reach for my laptop bag.

After 'laptop swabbie' gets done, he hands me the computer, and then starts dissecting my laptop bag. Every pocket is gone through. 'Shoe swabbie' is having problems with the swab machine, from the looks of it - either that, or he's sneaking sniffs of my sneakers.

They pile all my stuff back up on the table. No 'thank you', or 'have a nice day' ... they just go back to waiting for the next victim.

I start to put my gear back in order. "Sir, you can't do that there."

I gather all my stuff, two trips worth, and carry it about 30 feet to a seat, where I am finally able to reassemble myself.

Fortunately, I was not in a hurry to catch the flight.

I had booked this flight 3 weeks in advance. It was not a one way ticket. My destination was a short haul, in state. I do not have a middle eastern name. I don't know whether these people were bored, or just plain power mad. I do know that 8 'officers' overseeing a one lane security checkpoint, with one machine, seems to be a bit of a money waste.

BTW - When I got home, I found that my bag had been tossed by TSA as well. Nothing was missing, but every bag, every zipper, every compartment had been opened and the contents gone through. I truly hope they enjoyed three days worth of dirty socks ...

In the interest of full disclosure, the above photo was not taken by me in Corpus. I can only imagine what that crew would have done if I had pulled out a camera!

Update - TSA, but not related to Corpus Christi. Somehow, a 65 year old woman passed through a TSA checkpoint in Terminal D at DFW airport, with a handgun in her carryon bag. From news reports, her bag went through the XRay machine, she passed through, retrieved the bag, and went on her way. Sometime later, someone saw the gun displayed on the machine's monitor. TSA personnel finally were able to locate her 90 minutes later. She had already boarded a plane, and the plane had backed away from the gate. They pulled her off the plane and had her go back through the screening process, where the gun was found. She was taken into custody. The incident started at 6:30am.

The woman is an attorney, and had an expired CHL. Her explanation, made public through her attorney, was that she forgot the gun was in the bag. The fact that she had a CHL and went through that training tells me she should have known better. How in the heck do you forget you have a .38 caliber pistol in your computer bag?

I've been through DFW checkpoints so many times I can't even to begin to guess how many. They are just as 'overmanned' as the ones in Corpus. How in the world did this woman take her bag through the checkpoint with a pistol in it without being stopped?

I saw an item during news coverage on this. TSA reported to Congress that they stop an average of 4 handguns PER DAY at security checkpoints in the US. Very few of those are intentional attempts at smuggling a weapon onto an airplane, which leads to the inescapable fact that a lot of people are just plain stupid.

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