TSA response part one

10 Jan

I received a response from my complaint to TSA that was sent on November 24, 2010.

Here is the first paragraph:

Dear Traveler:

Thank you for your e-mail to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Contact Center. Due to a significant increase in e-mail inquiries, TSA was unable to respond to your correspondence in a timely manner. We apologize for the delay. In an effort to resolve your concerns, included for your reference is information related to our most commonly asked questions.

So let’s get this straight.  They have addressed me as “traveler” which means they are sending a form email that is, for the record, not going to address my complaint at all but rather just explain the procedures again.  Apparently if we just understood the procedures they would somehow cease to be unreasonable searches.

Next, they apologize for the delay in response but explain that it is due to the volume of “inquiries”.  Could they possibly mean “complaints”?  After all when you contact them you first choose a category.  I chose “complaints”.  If choosing a category serves any purpose (though who would be surprised if TSA had a procedure that served no purpose?) then they should be aware that this is not an inquiry.  But nothing about their letter would indicate that it has been read or sorted at all.

After choosing a category you choose a sub category from a drop down box.  This box gives you the following options:

airline complaints

civil rights

discourteous/ rude employee

inappropriate screening/ pat down screening

inconsistent screening (different practices between airports)

inattentive screener– lax security

long lines/ lengthy wait at checkpoints

TSA accepted locks missing or damaged

items not permitted through the security checkpoint

disarrayed items in checked or carried on baggage

damaged or missing items in checked or carried on baggage

unable to get boarding pass online must check in

consistently selected for secondary screening

my complaint is not listed

I chose ‘civil rights’.  I am flabbergasted that there is such an abundance of these types of complaints that they have a drop down box for them; however it really amazes me that in spite of the drop down box method they can’t seem to distinguish a complaint from a request for information.  The rest of the letter is a list of procedures and begins with the importance of the pat downs:

Revised Patdown Procedures

At airports nationwide, TSA is implementing more streamlined, consistent, and thorough patdown procedures at security checkpoints to provide a higher level of security and increase the safety of the traveling public. Patdowns are one important tool to help TSA detect hidden and dangerous items such as explosives.

Why aren’t they concerned about the airport itself then?  Shouldn’t the screening happen at the door?  What exactly would they have the training to do if they WERE confronted with an armed terrorist or an explosive at the checkpoint?  Is an explosion in the middle of the most crowded place in the airport actually safer than an explosion on the plane?

Enhanced patdown procedures are conducted by a TSO of the same gender. Passengers may request that enhanced screenings are conducted in a private location, and TSOs are required to offer a private screening to passengers who are subject to a patdown inspection of sensitive body areas.  Passengers should communicate to the TSO if they are experiencing physical or emotional discomfort during the procedure.  However, if a passenger declines to permit the search, he or she will not be permitted to board an aircraft. Every person and item must be screened before entering the secured area of an airport.

And if the passenger DOES experience discomfort?  Then what?  What if the very idea of being touched causes discomfort?  Oh I see. We won’t be allowed to fly.  Because you see we’re guilty until proven innocent.

And again, if an armed terrorist confronts the agent what exactly happens?  Are these agents in anyway trained to deal with that?  Their pay grade certainly does not make me think so.  And if we can afford to train them to overcome an armed terrorist then certainly we could train them to employ screening methods that do not involve violating our rights.  Why are we choosing to do neither?

It’s Monday.  Time to write our representatives and anyone else we think might listen and tell them that this is not acceptable.  We CAN do better.  We SHOULD do better and we are not going to accept a charade that violates our rights, our dignities and our peace of mind without doing a thing to promote safety and security.




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One Response to “TSA response part one”

  1. Blair January 11, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Thanks for the reminder. I just sent an email expressing my outrage that a friend’s 4yr old son in a wheelchair was targeted on the way home from his Disney Make A Wish trip. His oxygen, fluids, medications, ostomy bags, etc were all searched and he had to endure a pat-down. Disgusting.

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