Today at Pittsburgh International Airport I saw a good thing: a federal employee checked my ID against my boarding pass. Before this I have written (here and here) about the third party privately owned companies who get to decide whether anyone passing through the US’s ID was up to unspecified standards. These third party’s where paid for by airlines because of a TSA (Transportation Security Administration) mandate. The TSA is part of the Department of Homeland Security–before 9/11 the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) was in charge of passenger screening.
What having TSA ID checkers means: more accountability for those who view personal information. Simply that, incredibly that. Federal Employees cannot refuse to be held to account without more transparent legal repercussions. Horray!
Note: TSA badges do not include the name of the person who is wearing them. An example name badge has a first name only and then an alphanumeric sequence of 6 characters. When I asked a TSA employee he said he’d “had the same badge for 5 years”.
But just to keep the information flowing, here are some of the signs I saw in the line to the airport:
“All shoes must be removed for X-Ray inspection” (then a video presentation on the LCD screens above the screening area said something to the effect that a person wearing certain types of shoe might be requested to remove them. Platforms, thick soled shoes and boots were all listed. Go contradictory mandates)
This is the jist of another video slide: Please be aware of the following security procedures. Sharp objects, firearms, tools, club-like items, flammable or explosive materials, disabling chemicals are all prohibited. “This list is a guide and is not all-inclusive” (I love having no firm knowledge of what arbitrary materials may be deemed banned)
“Kindly retain boarding pass in hand through screening process. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated” (It’s like they think we’re all in this together. If I could get a train to take me to Florida in 2 hours, I would. I would support any security plan for the US which kept the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the spirits of both documents in mind. The current plan does not qualify)
Anyhoo, if you hadn’t guessed, I am now blogging at the Grace Hopper Conference–more on that soon!
“There’s a whiff of the lynch mob or the lemming migration about any overlarge concentration of like-thinking individuals, no matter how virtuous their cause.”
– PJ O’Rourke
Jessica Dickinson Goodman