TSA is Evil AND Stupid

The Transportation Security Administration’s passenger check procedures are now even more intrusive and demeaning. They’ve reached the point where the only alternative to body scanning is an even more invasive pat-down (including cupped hands over breasts and groin). That’s right: If you don’t want to be ogled by cretins viewing your genitalia with their x-ray specs, you’re free to let them grope your family jewels instead.

Never mind their claims that radiation from the body-scanners is “harmless.” Just like asbestos, Agent Orange and depleted uranium. Any time someone in authority tells you something is “harmless,” they’re probably lying. (For that matter, any time someone in authority tells you anything, they’re probably lying.)  Anyway, so what if they really believe it? If they find out later they were wrong, they’ll still stonewall and fight to the end to avoid compensating you.

Never mind how easily the system can be abused — not just by drooling idjuts getting their jollies looking at you nekkid, but by preserving and distributing your image in all sorts of illegal ways. (It’s really only “illegal” if you have some realistic means of finding out and doing something about it, or their superiors could be bothered to investigate something that would just make them look bad.) Most organizations that engage in malfeasance as standard operating procedure probably have written policies against it.  The whole point of written policies against anything is to provide plausible deniability to folks in authority who couldn’t give a rip one way or the other.  “We TOLD those guys at Auschwitz not to kill any Jews …”)

Never mind all that.  Let’s just focus on the system’s effectiveness.

The simple fact of the matter is, the Underpants Bomber’s device probably wouldn’t even have shown up on the scanner anyway. That’s right. The scanner is useless for preventing the very thing it was introduced in response to.  Like most statist measures, and most measures introduced by the management of hierarchies of all kind, the whole point is just to be on record having done SOMETHING so that their own posteriors are covered. It doesn’t matter whether it actually works or not — what matters is they DID SOMETHING.

And unlike the lumbering bureaucratic dinosaurs in the U.S. national security state, the folks at al Qaeda are at least half-way intelligent. They don’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. They do something once for a big payoff, then move on to something new on the assumption that the other side is developing countermeasures.

In general, networks are agile, resilient, and innovative, while hierarchies are ponderous and reactive.  What’s happened so far?

Richard Reed tries to smuggle explosives in his shoes. The TSA, after hundreds of thousands of committee man-hours, finally grinds out a policy requring everyone to take off their shoes  — further slowing down the glacial pace of processing travelers onto planes.

Someone (maybe) tries to smuggle liquids on planes. Hundreds more committee man-hours … and everyone has to chuck their shampoo bottles.

Someone straps explosives to his leg.  Hundreds more committee man-hours … and you’re performing a peep show for free.

Someone smuggles explosives on a Fed Ex package. Hundreds more committee man-hours … and the air freight system will probably slow to a crawl for universal (but probably mostly ineffectual) inspection of every package.

I wonder how long it will be before someone in al Qaeda smuggles explosives onto a plane in his rectum — and deliberately lets himself get caught — so the entire civil aviation system will be effectively shut down by TSA’s new mandatory cavity searches for everyone.

Hierarchies always develop, at the greatest possible expense and effort, plans for fighting the last war — and not very effectively at that.

If your safety depends on TSA’s so-called “counter-measures,” you’re doomed.  Their only real effect is to shift resources to the TSA bureaucracy and the security-industrial complex.

That, and empower knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers to feel you up.

Citations to this article:

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Organization Theory
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