Friday, July 9, 2010

Fly the Thieving Skies?

Mike Vanderboegh commenting on this article:
A taxpayer funded criminal enterprise. The deal goes like this, or so I'm told by folks who have seen it in action:

TSA employees scanning bags turn up something they want to steal. In this case, Israeli pistols. They tag the bag with some mark that their confederate in the baggage process can easily identify out-of-sight of the cameras and public. After the items are removed from the bag, all routing marks are effaced from the bag and it is re-routed, in this case sent to LA -- a popular destination for NY TSA thievs' handiwork simply because it takes so long to get there. The thieves are never too greedy. Note that in this case the two "lost" bags both have weapons, but only one bag is pilfered -- the one with the most pistols, naturally. The merchandise is often handed off to a third-party at the airport, who sneaks it out in a personal bag. By the time the baggage arrives at the wrongly-forwarded airport, returned and the theft discovered, the merchandise is long gone from the airport. Who participates in scanning the bags originally? And who knows where all the security cameras, obvious and unobtrusive are?

You guessed it, the "transportation security" folks.
I don't know that Mr. Vanderboegh's scenario above is true but I do think it is plausible.

I've flown exactly once in the last ten years and, while not a particularly pleasant experience, it was not as bad as I was prepared for. All of the TSA agents I had to deal with were minimally polite and the folks in Tennessee, as expected, were noticeably better than the ones in California. There was a subtle attitude on both ends that we, the passengers, were cattle and they, the TSA were herders. I certainly didn't like it but I learned years ago to play the step'n'fetchit game when dealing with the government.

People I know who do fly regularly tell me horror stories and I read about them on the web regularly. Even allowing for some exaggeration, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence the TSA is not the friendly skies they pretend to be. One lawyer told me her law firm no longer allows company laptops to be taken on passenger flights because of damage suffered at the hand of the TSA. They instead ship them by private courier at considerable extra expense.

By the way, the flight attendants I dealt with were unfailingly polite and did it without being obsequious.

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