United States replacing one form of terrorism in the sky with another?
Category: Blog

As many who follow my twitter feed know, I went to SXSW this past weekend flying to Austin, TX on US Airways. Also as evidenced by my tweets from these past couple days, I’ve had a bit of a run in with the TSA. On my departure flight to Phoenix from San Jose, in the process of inspecting my checked luggage, the TSA completely ripped apart both my checked bags. One was filled with clothes, and while annoying to have everything wrinkled and tossed about, that was of little concern really. The other bag, though, was filled with moderately expensive camera gear packed in a form fitting Pelican case. It appeared as if someone had flipped the bag upside down, then picked everything up and just cramped it back in, completely disregarding how it was placed originally. In the process, foam was crushed and torn and gear was lightly damaged. I of course was extremely angry, but I calmed down and felt it was an isolated incident of an extremely poor employee.

Little did I know, it wasn’t an isolated incident, but rather a pandemic problem which has been erupting lately. I heard from several people I whined about it to in Austin that they had experiences very similar to mine in recent weeks. Hoping for the best, though, I packed my things very carefully this time when coming home and left a note in large print asking the TSA inspectors to please be careful with the gear. I didn’t expect them to really pay attention to it, but at least I felt any decent human being would be somewhat considerate of other’s belongings. Boy was I ever wrong.

Upon flying back to San Jose this morning, I was greeted by a rather unpleasant sight. Not only was one of the heavy duty latches on the Pelican case open, but there were also cables hanging out the side. Opening the case, I found everything had been trashed as bad as before, and just like last time there was no TSA inspection notice inside the case. This was the straw which broke the camel’s back, so to speak, and has forced me to write this blog post. Here’s photos of the contents of the camera case after they had their way with it:

And here are photos of the repacked case as it was before being in the hands of the TSA:

All the photos I took for this blog post can also be viewed in this photo set on Flickr.

Now some will surely complain about my “sensationalist” title for this post, but I must ask you, does the TSA not employ terrorist tactics against US citizens? According to many accepted definitions of terrorism found online, I feel they do.

First of all the TSA uses violence, albeit not violence against yourself physically, but to your possessions. Just a quick look through the above photos shows they have zero concern for the safety of your property, instead they pride in exactly the opposite. I may be a bit harsh here, but seeing how this happened to me twice in separate locations in the country in less than a week’s time, I can fairly confidently say this isn’t an isolated incident based on just my own first hand experiences, let alone what others told me.

Second they use propaganda, half-truths, and out right lies to instill fear in the citizens of the United States. One example of this is the b/s about liquids in carry-ons. As someone who knows how to build a basic explosive device, I can positively say the volumes of liquids they do allow you to carry would be more than enough to make something capable of taking a plane out of the sky, especially considering multiple people could have carry-ons who are involved. But the truth of all of it is, why would they even bother? Terrorists proved last time it doesn’t take advanced tactics to commandeer a plane, hell, they allegedly did it with box cutters and plastic knives. Not sure how much I believe that, but the point remains. As a friend who was formerly of the Secret Service once told me, if someone is willing to trade their life for yours and is skilled/well trained, it’s something very difficult, bordering on impossible, to completely defend against.

Finally, as would be the case with a “real” terrorist group, there isn’t anything you can do to protect yourself against their wrath, other than avoid living your life as you would normally. Try putting a lock on your luggage, the TSA will cut it off. Try putting a note inside to plead to their human side, they will throw it away in disregard. Your only course of action is to simply avoid the TSA altogether, which sadly means not flying on commercial airlines.

By giving up our basic freedoms we have let the “enemies” win. Terrorist organizations worldwide can sit back and laugh, as our own government will do their dirty work for them instilling fear into our fellow citizens and causing us harm. We can’t sit idly by, we must voice our opinions, and not accept the wrongs done to us as a fact of life. Spread the word and maybe we can help cause a change for the better for all!

6 Responses to “United States replacing one form of terrorism in the sky with another?”

  1. marc says:

    People responsible for looking through bags should ask themselves, “how would I want my stuff handled by a stranger” and act accordingly. The golden-rule should rule the day.

    BTW, you should reach out to the TSA’s blog. They have been known on at least two occasions to take action when things like this come to their attention (SFO’s overzealous screeners and MacBook Air screening.)

  2. I would be livid. While I’m sure you have taken some action to complaining directly to the TSA, you should if you haven’t. I’d start with their new blog which is remarkably candid and open. Maybe someone there can be an ear for you to voice your concerns.

  3. Stratocaster says:

    What did actually opening the Pelican case tell the TSA that an x-ray image and ETD swab could not? I assume that even if this were film camera equipment, the film itself would have been hand-inspected. (TSA Borg Drones DO know what photographic film looks like, don’t they?)

    I saw the link to your post on the TSA blog, but “reach[ing] out to the TSA’s blog” or even “complaining directly to the TSA” isn’t likely to get compensation for repairs to your photographic equipment.

    And in the meantime, our passenger rail system remains woefully unprotected, with the potential for loss of life and property so engagingly portrayed in the film “Silver Streak.”

  4. Dave X says:

    Some people recommend packing some kind of firearm (even a unloaded starter pistol) with your valuables so that you can supervise a hand search and lock your bag with a real lock. See http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/09/expensive_camer.html

  5. Anonymous says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you….

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