DeVos: BDO, TSA, SNT, DIA and MORE
November 6, 2014
Despite living safely at 9,000 feet, my wife and I have nonetheless grown alarmed by rising sea levels. Determined to do our part, we flew to Boston and proceeded to eat every fish and crustacean we encountered while driving along the beautiful New England coastal menus. We figured if that didn't lower the Atlantic sufficiently, we would redouble our efforts this winter in Key West.
A fine plan, nearly set awry at DIA. Going through security I forgot that TSA's starting wage is $12.40 per hour and that the average agent's skill set consisted of avoiding a felony. For reasons known only to TSA, I was selected for a pat-down, so I dutifully straddled the big yellow footprints and braced for the now-familiar ritual.
Suddenly things got too familiar when the agent grabbed me in a banned wrestling maneuver I'd not experienced since high school. I jumped out of my yellow footprints, which earned a forceful reprimand and more strenuous groping. Before I could stop myself, the devil on my left shoulder barked, "Wow, what're you doing after work? What time do you get off?"
My suggestion to you, after the fact, is to never, ever, do that. Scowling fiercely at me, the agent waved his gloves over the employee time clock and announced without looking that, uh-oh, it's positive.
"Positive?" I repeated dumbly, "For what?"
"Explosives," he said, with an offal-consuming grin.
Left voice blurted, "Oh, thank God, I was sure it was Ebola!"
They did not wrestle me to the ground but I could see them reviewing their options. The angel on my right shoulder kept screaming in my ear, "SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!" Good words that eventually led to freedom and the bar at airport Elway's where I wondered, "How often do agents of the Transportation Safety Administration apprehend real terrorists?"
TSA was created by the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. Since inception, it turns out, TSA agents have apprehended zilch, zero, nada, not one single terrorist.
Bolstered by this fact, in 2007, the Government's Employee's Union realized America would be even safer with extra billing for the SPOT program. SPOT stands for Screening of Passengers by Observational Techniques. The screening is done by TSA BDOs (Behavior Detection Officers) on the lookout for sweaty, nervous people on the belief that terrorists would be sweaty and nervous in the presence of TSA's officious blue uniforms. BODs stand out in airport security like bald eagles on a treetop, clearly chosen for their height and focused gaze. Pretend you don't see them.
Supporters claim TSA's very presence keeps terrorists away. Yes, and it could also be true that terrorists won't come within arm's length of a TSA agent because most holy writings forbid verifying another man's gender in a tiny windowless room. Without flowers, of course.
In response to questions about TSA's effectiveness, the Government Accounting Office recently pointed out two things: At least 16 people later arrested for terrorism flew 23 different times through U.S. airports since 2004 without detection by TSA or its Behavior Detection Officers. The GAO also reviewed more than 400 behavior-detection studies, concluding that TSA's ability to detect deception was equal to or perhaps insignificantly better than chance. Since 2007, TSA has billed over a billion extra dollars for an additional 3,100 ineffective screeners whose total combined efforts sum up to the flip of a coin.
To give fair due, even if they haven't caught a single terrorist, TSA has assisted law enforcement in hundreds, if not thousands of arrests for drug, weapons and paperwork violations, exactly what private contractors used to do at a fraction of TSA's cost.
And you didn't have to wear protective gear to get on a plane.
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