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9th Circuit rejects TSA claim of impunity for checkpoint staff who rape traveler (papersplease.org)
250 points by rolph 6 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 139 comments



The question decided here isn't:

"Can a TSA agent who assaults a traveler be held liable for the assault?" That answer has been "yes" for a long time.

But rather:

"Can the TSA itself be held liable when an agent under its control commits an assault?"

The doctrine of sovereign immunity says "no". However, congress has created exceptions to sovereign immunity, and the ruling is that the TSA is included in those exceptions.


That is not what TFA says: the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) argued that TSA checkpoint staff have absolute immunity from lawsuits for assault, even sexual assault or rape, committed against travelers they are “screening”.

That clearly says TSA staff, not the TSA itself. Is that summary of the argument wrong?


Digging a bit more into the links I found this:

Instead, the TSA has argued that, even if all of the allegations in Ms. Leuthauser’s complaint are true, the TSA and its employees have absolute impunity. Regardless of what “torts”, even rape, TSA checkpoint staff commit against travelers, the government claims that Federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear lawsuits or consider claims against them.

So TSA is claiming immunity for both staff and the agency. I didn't read the actual judgement, but I'm guessing the grandparent comment has that covered.


That might be a different case. If you look the court's opinion for this case[1], it explicitly says it's not about whether the TSA officer can be sued.

>Whether Leuthauser can state a claim against TSO Serrano under Bivens is not at issue in this appeal

"Leuthauser" is the plaintiff, "TSO" stands for "Transportation Security Officer"

[1] https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/06/26/2...


Bivens is not the only possible way to sue a federal employee individually. I do agree that it isn't what this case is about, but more because it seems both parties and the court are all in agreement that the plaintiff can't sue the officer under federal law (except for the attempted Bivens claim).


Correct, but irrelevant. This particular appear is about suing the USG and specifically about if TSA officers are law enforcement officers for the purpose of a specific law that opens the USG up for liability here.


That's not the opinion for the lawsuit, but for the appeal of one aspect of a the lawsuit. (But I don't know what issues are in the suit itself.)


>even sexual assault or rape, committed against travelers they are “screening”.

How in the world could that sentence EVER be justified? Maybe there's justification for protection from assault due to physical altercations while attempting to restrain someone. There is NEVER reasoning for rape. FULL FUCKING STOP. Seriously, WTF is wrong with people for a) suggesting it in the first place, and b) ratifying it into accepted policy


> Maybe there's justification for protection from assault due to physical altercations while attempting to restrain someone.

I don't know the details of this particular case that would lead to claims of rape. But, I do know that certain types of search on someone's person can be... invasive.... especially if they're suspected of smuggling. I can certainly see how that kind of search becomes a rape claim.

It's literally the textbook definition of rape to search someone like that with the threat of physical harm. The legal difference is the context and intent.

There is a gray area here people don't want to talk about, but TFA is lying by omission if this is the kind of case at hand.


I don't really see the gray area here.

We live in a world where x-ray machines are ubiquitous. There's zero reason we need to have government-committed legalized rape at the airport, regardless of context or intent.


X ray's are likely not specific enough; more over if the x ray is positive a cavity search is perhaps next anyhow. A CT has too much radiation and an MRI would be cost prohibitive. That's my guess.

Then there's cases of legitimate foreign bodies anyways, e.g. a tampon full of fentanyl or something comparable. The X ray won't help there.


Customs already uses x-rays for this exact purpose.


And if the x-ray finds drugs and the suspect doesn't want to take it out themselves? As a matter of fact maybe they don't want to risk the suspect tampering with the evidence. The gloves are coming on at that point.

Criminals aren't always the most reasonable people. Saying "pretty please" is a waste of time.


Ideally the person with drugs in their body would be sent to a hospital where medical professionals would handle extracting whatever needed to be removed in a way that didn't cause harm to the person.

I can't imagine when it would ever be necessary for a random TSA thug to go elbow deep in someone to rummage around for a balloon filled with drugs that could rupture and kill them.


Would this be analogous to the way that "being shot dead by a police officer in the course of their duties" isn't "murder"?

(I am not a lawyer, don't rely on random people on the internet for legal advice, especially when the word 'analogy' is involved, etc.).


Yes. Lots of situations aren't murder such as defending your country or killing an armed intruder in your home. You're a hero in those cases.


It's a matter of law, not conscience. TSA claims sovereign immunity for the actions of their personnel because of a claimed nuance in a law designed to protect against abuse of federal agents with police powers.


Immunity from lawsuits is a different discussion.


weasel comments like that are also flabbergasting.

no.

if you are operating with guidelines like allowing protection against an employee from being convicted of rape, then you as a company should be allowed to be sued into oblivion as well.


Protection from criminal conviction is not under discussion at all. It's a complete red herring.

The immunity under discussion is about civil liability.


The parent comment is discussing civil liability:

> ... then you as a company should be allowed to be sued into oblivion as well.


I would guess it's a mistake in phrasing. Also from the article (emphasis mine):

> The three judges found unanimously that the Federal Tort Clams [Claims?] Act (FTCA) allows lawsuits against the TSA for damages caused by checkpoint staff who assault travelers.


> "Can a TSA agent who assaults a traveler be held liable for the assault?" That answer has been "yes" for a long time.

IANAL I don't think this is the case.

> FELRTCA confers such immunity by making the Federal Tort Claims Act the exclusive remedy for all common law torts committed by federal employees while acting within the scope of their office or employment.

There are exceptions but a blanket "Yes" is too simple it seems like. I can't find any analyses that contradict this or cases where individual agents are sued rather than the agency (outside of bivens cases which are about constitutional violations and supersede federal law).

https://www.justice.gov/jm/civil-resource-manual-33-immunity...


That’s not right. The suit is against the United States, not the TSA. The Federal Tort Claims Act waives the United States’ sovereign immunity in certain limited cases. One of those is if an intentional tort is committed by “investigative or law enforcement officers of the United States.” The question here was do Transportation Security Officers count as investigative or law enforcement officers of the United States. Court: they do. Therefore, the waiver of sovereign immunity applies.


It looks like the screener was certified as acting under the scope of their duties pursuant to the Westfall act, and thus the TSA was substituted as the defendant.


Succinct. Thank you.


Thank you for this great, succinct analysis!


Note: this is a question of the TSA's liability, not the alleged rapist's. It's a question of whether sovereign immunity is waived under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and turns on whether TSA staff are "investigative or law enforcement officers of the United States" [1].

The ruling seems reasonable. But it wasn't the no-brainer the title seems to imply it was.

[1] https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/06/26/2...


The TSA has raised these arguments in 4 separate circuits and now have lost in 4 separate circuits. Perhaps it actually is a no-brainer.


> TSA has raised these arguments in 4 separate circuits and now have lost in 4 separate circuits. Perhaps it actually is a no-brainer.

The lower court ruled for the government. And despite noting this concurrence in the second paragraph of their opinion [1], the court continued for pages in its analysis.

[1] https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/06/26/2...


> The lower court ruled for the government.

Yeah, trial courts sometimes get no-brainers wrong, that’s significant enough that there is a reason the first level of appeal is “as of right” and not discretionary.


Cleaning dung off the wall takes a lot more effort than putting it there in the first place. I wouldn't confuse prolixity for ambiguity, in case that was your point.


IANAL but it looks like the TSA partially self-owned here.

As the court document [0] points out, there exists a “law enforcement proviso,” which waives sovereign immunity for torts such as assault and battery committed by “investigative or law enforcement officers of the United States Government.” In other words, government cops can be sued for assault and battery. TSA said "our people aren't cops, so they can't be sued." The court said "Aha! You gave them badges! So they're cops!" (I'm oversimplifying -- the badges were just one piece of evidence the court cited).

Back in 2008, the TSA made a big deal about giving their people badges so they would be more respected by the public [1]. The court document even points this out and provides the [now dead] link to the press release. There was a bit of PR blowback then because most members of the public didn't think TSA screeners deserved badges. But the TSA insisted that they did, so now they have badges.

So that means they can be sued. Oops.

[0] https://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2023/06/26/2...

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20170429182331/https://www.tsa.g...


Unbelievably disgusting behavior.

"Unlike the government of Qatar, however, the US government hasn’t apologized, said that what happened was illegal (or would be illegal if the complaint is proven to be true), or referred the TSA checkpoint staff for investigation and possible prosecution.

The TSA hasn’t even tried to dispute the truth and factual accuracy of the complaint.

Instead, the TSA has argued that, even if all of the allegations in Ms. Leuthauser’s complaint are true, the TSA and its employees have absolute impunity. Regardless of what “torts”, even rape, TSA checkpoint staff commit against travelers, the government claims that Federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear lawsuits or consider claims against them."

https://papersplease.org/wp/2022/12/06/tsa-argues-for-impuni...


> "Unlike the government of Qatar, however, the US government hasn’t apologized, said that what happened was illegal (or would be illegal if the complaint is proven to be true), or referred the TSA checkpoint staff for investigation and possible prosecution.

That's the really troubling thing. We can argue about civil immunity until we are blue in the face, but non-consensual body-cavity searches at airport screening locations (which, to clarify, are against TSA policy) should be treated as criminal.


Isn't this a standard way to structure a defense, to avoid a legal question by questioning standing?


Ah, yes, the defense of the "I didn't kill him, well, you don't really have any evidence, okay, fine, even if I did, it was self-defense, so what" kind. I heard courts really don't like it though but IANAL.


I don't know how you arrived at that thought from what I wrote. Self-defense is an affirmative defense and has nothing to do with standing.


That feels so gross it would nice if arguing that is contempt and earns the governments lawyer a month in a holding cell.


The last few years have made disbarment seem like a reasonable tool to use far more often than we do.


But who has?


Shouldn’t this say “immunity”, not “impunity”? One is a legal term of art, which appears over a dozen times in the linked legal opinion, and the other is a similar word that has no specific legal meaning, and which does not appear in the linked opinion at all.


> Shouldn’t this say “immunity”, not “impunity”?

Legal immunity is impunity in the common English sense, so the headline is an accurate factual description of the impact either way.

> the other is a similar word that has no specific legal meaning, and which does not appear in the linked opinion at all.

Neither of those is relevant to the evaluation of the headline (were the word in quotes, the fact that it is not a quote from the opinion would be relevant, but its not, so its not.)


> Legal immunity is impunity in the common English sense

The headline says "rejects claim of impunity". There is no such thing as a "claim of impunity", even if the word "impunity" can often be substituted for "immunity"


> The headline says "rejects claim of impunity"

And its accurate.

> There is no such thing as a "claim of impunity",

Yes, there is; every word in that phrase is used in the usual English sense. The fact that its not a legal term of art doesn't change that those English words accurately describe what occurred.


> every word in that phrase is used in the usual English sense.

Sure, but when you're reporting on a legal development, it makes sense to use the appropriate legal terms. This is especially true when the substituted word sounds like the word most lawyers would use. It makes the author sound like he doesn't understand that this is a term of art. It might add variety to the piece, but when I'm reading reporting on legal matters, I'd rather see terms of art used throughout, rather than have the author "mix it up" with these sorts of substitutions.


> Sure, but when you're reporting on a legal development, it makes sense to use the appropriate legal terms.

If you are reporting for a lay audience it makes sense, esepcially in a headline, to use the common English that best conveys the impact. This is true regardless of the subject matter.

> I'd rather see terms of art used throughout

That's a valid aesthetic preference, but failure to align with it doesn't make a headline accurately describing the facts into an inaccurate reference to something that doesn't exist.


As SilasX points out, using the phrase "claim of impunity" could also confuse laypeople about what the legal term of art is. But more importantly, no one ever claimed impunity. You could say they "cannot do x with impunity following this decision" perhaps, but you cannot say that the TSA "claimed impunity" — which they did not ever do.


Layperson here. “Claim of impunity” is muuuch more confusing than “claim of immunity”. The former sounds like they’re claiming that, in practice, they don’t get prosecuted (cf. “the gangs commit crimes with impunity”), rather than that they legally should not be prosecuted.


Consider the source. If you poke around the about us section, there's not much there, so it's not clear what their legal or reporting, etc. bona fides are. You gotta take it as amateur journalism and be glad there is at least a link to the decision.


I read lots of law blogs (former lawyer) and some of the language used made it seem very law-blog-ish. For example, non-lawyers typically don't note/congratulate the attorneys representing one party or the other, which this post did at the end.

That's why it was so weird to have the word "impunity" mixed in at various places, which is something a lawyer or legal-focused journalist would not do (especially "claim of impunity" in the headline).


the site has been previously known to be the work of Edward Hasbrouck (https://icannwiki.org/Edward_Hasbrouck)

His name still seems to be on the author byline in this post.


Yes, it seems like the linked site either doesn't realize those are two separate words, or enjoys using the latter because maybe it sounds slightly more scandalous?

For a factual news story like this, I think a source less dripping with a particular POV would be great.


IANAL but this seems like a good call


There have been legislative attempts to end qualified immunity, the most recent being the Ending Qualified Immunity Act [0]. Qualified immunity is not a law but an overly broad and frequently misapplied court precedent that undermines the accountability of the U.S. justice system.

[0]: https://pressley.house.gov/sites/pressley.house.gov/files/En...


I think it's incredible the TSA would even advance such an argument.


Regular LEOs advance the qualified immunity argument all of the time...

Qualified Immunity/Harlow v. Fitzgerald is up there among the worst SCOTUS decisions of all time and desperately needs to be reversed.


> LEOs advance the qualified immunity argument all of the time

This isn't that.

Qualified immunity "grants government officials...immunity" [1]. Sovereign immunity is immunity for a state itself [2]. In 1946, the U.S. waived its sovereign immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act [3] under certain circumstances. This case was about whether those circumstances were met.

The court found it was. That means sovereign immunity is waived and the TSA isn't immune. It has zero bearing on the officer's own culpability.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualified_immunity

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_immunity

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Tort_Claims_Act


Qualified immunity is irrelevant here. Rape is in no way a discretionary job task, and a reasonable person would know it's illegal.

I think half of people's outrage about qualified immunity is simply not understanding what it is.


(Note the headline appears misleading - this is not about staff being able to do what they want, but about whether or not TSA can be sued for damages.)


It seems like TSA actually made that argument "TSA has argued that, even if all of the allegations in Ms. Leuthauser’s complaint are true, the TSA and its employees have absolute impunity. Regardless of what “torts”, even rape, TSA checkpoint staff commit against travelers, the government claims that Federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear lawsuits or consider claims against them."


Same. Even if they had won this case, it would be a massive PR blunder.


Shouldn’t government officials and law enforcement and such be held to higher standards than the general population not the other way around?


The officials themselves aren't in question. These proceedings only concern whether TSA itself (aka the government) can be sued. That's what the 'soverign immunity' part is about.

This case isn't related at all to whether the employee can be prosecuted, sued, whatever.

You could make the case either way imho, pro of having immunity is that our tax dollars ideally wouldn't be spent to try to make up for some stupid thing some bad TSA agent did. Con is that ideally knowing TSA could be sued would make whoever manages the budget of TSA much more afraid to keep poorly-trained or unstable people on their staff, and/or to train and supervise them better.


I suspect it more about having the right processes in place to stop this from happening eg always having two people to hand, having all agents wear body cams etc..

I don't think education or training would stop a oppuntunist from raping someone


Do we really still need such a giant TSA? What would it take to reduce the scanning burden per passenger? The existing process is basically "security theater" anyway.


Adjacent/Off Topic: It's really time we disband or seriously curtail the TSA. Plane travel in the US is absurd. I understand that it is s jobs scheme/work program welfare, but this makes air travel extremely difficult. At a minimum policy should be reworked around shoes & liquids and the TSA itself should be used to optimize efficiency.


Calling it a jobs program is overly generous. It's broken windows fallacy. Considering the ineffectiveness of the TSA as shown by multiple audits, opportunity cost of waiting in security lines, lost revenue to airlines, and increased road fatalities due to flight aversion, it's a massive net loss to the economy for no actual benefit to safety.


Extremely relevant, albeit somewhat dated by now: https://www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Faculty/Glenn_Lo...

I don't know why nobody has maintained this line of inquiry in the nearly 20 years since this was published.


What do you replace it with?

Before you answer - consider the Status Quo prior to 9/11, it was private security, run by individual airlines or groups of airlines as needed. It was not (always) centralized and often was only done at the gate point.

Is the issue with TSA or TSA policies?

I think we can relax TSA policy some, certainly at least on shoes - though many travelers will still need to remove shoes before the shoe has an internal metal support.


9/11 was not a result of lax security in airports, but lacking security measures onboard planes themselves which have since been addressed with reinforced locking cockpit doors being sealed before departure, etc.

It's been proven time and time again even by other government agencies that it is trivially easy to sneak "dangerous" things (including knives and firearms) through TSA checkpoints onto planes. The current state of airport "security" in the USA is 110% theatre which taxpayers and travelers pay through the nose for.


I'm not even gonna go into if lax security was at the root of 9/11, I think it was certainly contributory but definitely not causal.

That does not answer my question - we dismantled the previous system and subsumed private sector expertise in airline security into TSA - so if not TSA, who should be doing it and how should it be done?

Like I think we could just as well have TSA doing it with policies returned back to 2000 (though I'm skeptical of rolling back the clock that much)?

Like, I don't disagree with the idea that TSA is about 50% theatre - it is, its meant to make Bob and Eileen from Cedar Rapids who fly twice a decade feel safe.


The two things that have made airplane travel safer since 2001:

1. reinforced cockpit doors

2. widespread knowledge among passengers that you have to actively fight the hijackers instead of letting them alone (previously, the assumption was that they just want to fly to Cuba or something and it was safer to let them do that and get off the plane)

That's it.

TSA screening is worth nothing, costs taxpayers and businesses enormous amounts of time and money, and is a gigantic abuse vector. Dissolve it and replace it with a simple metal detectors and X-ray machine regime to check for obvious cases of idiots carrying firearms onto the plane; anything more than that is a waste of taxpayer money.


(Edited) Right, okay, but who should operate those things?


I would be supportive of a smaller, better selected, better trained, better compensated cadre of TSA agents. I think a lot of the reason why the TSA is so ineffective, and why so much of the airport experience is just theater, comes down to the fact that it is just a jobs program for people who could not get a job guarding the local mall.


I don't actually think TSA can shrink by a substantial amount and still carry out even the reduced mission we've discussed here. You still need roughly the same number of people operating X-Ray and Magnetometers that you have operating body scanners and X-Rays now, it would go somewhat faster, but not vastly faster, the flow thru say, PreCheck and Regular TSA is within 15% of each other.

I think there is an assumption here that the 'theatre' component adds lots of people to TSA, and I don't think that's the case, just from my own observations - and having some understanding of how you move volumes of people thru a space.

For efficiency - I'm gonna make the assumption that we're still gonna keep a distinction between the airside and landside, and not put ID check back on the airlines at the gate.

Lets look at the staffing of a single TSA checkpoint -

1) Before the queue, you have a guy filtering precheck vs not - that guy could prolly go away. so -1 here.

2) At the end point of the queue, you have the guy doing ID verification and boarding pass check, that step is probably still needed here. So 0 - no change.

3) Pre Magnetometer Assist - This is the person helping pax put their belongings on the belt for going thru the magnetometer, its not always present, but usually is when they're busy. So 0 - no change.

4) X-Ray Operator, the person operating the X-Ray. So 0, no change.

5) Team of two people operating the magnetometer. I see no way to reduce this, you need someone to do a pat down for those who fail the magnetometer, so it's usually a pair of men and women. Again 0 - no change

6) 1-3 people to perform hand inspections of bags that look questionable on the X-Ray. You maybe could reduce this? it depends on the particulars of the details of the inspection.

7) Supervisor. Even in an ideal world, you still need a supervisor, plus the supervisor probably helps give breaks and fills in missing coverage on the short term when people are late.

Now while I can believe that the people at the checkpoints are just the tip of the proverbial TSA iceberg, This is the part that seems even harder to reduce, in any meaningful way.

The long and the short of this, is I don't think TSA can reduce its size in any meaningful way, airlines used to do all this threat analysis themselves in some level of isolation. Now its all centralized, without a probable meaningful level of change in employment.


I wonder if there'd be fewer abuses by the TSA (especially theft, but also assault and harassment) if they had the resources to hire better people. Maybe there is still an opportunity to reduce staff if the quality of the staff still increases.


I wonder what the actual incidents of these are, I suspect it's very low - figure that ~2m people fly in the states every day. Also, its not just TSA that has the chance to steal, airline employees do too, because they ferry the bags to the inspection and from it.

The issue for me isn't that TSA does bad things, it's like the whole debate over LE in the US - Law Enforcement Agencies cannot be held to reasonable account when their employees do bad things. Thats the real issue at hand here.


The airlines, either themselves or through contracted private security.


There was one - count it - case of an attempted shoe bombing, which failed dismally. Billions of travelers have had to take off their shoes and have them scanned by x-ray ever since. This is wildly, pathologically irrational.


I don't disagree with the idea that TSA is about 50% theatre - it is, its meant to make Bob and Eileen from Cedar Rapids who fly twice a decade feel safe.

my shoes must be removed anyhow, because they will cause the magnetometer to go off.

Generally I agree with you - like we don't make people with PreCheck take them off - so why make everyone else?


I think the logic is that precheck requires a background check and interview. I don’t have it so I’m not certain.


There is no interview, its just a fingerprinting.


The OP called for disbanding or curtailing. Allowing for a single agency to carry out the 9/10 status quo would be curtailing. And I think that would be sufficient.

Or you could phase back into airport authorities running the security, but allow for centralized policies and audit. Having local authority subject to central audit and consequences might be a lot better than central authority subject to central audit and no effective consequences.


I flagged on disband, not on curtail and was questioning that - but its clear some of the parallel commenters do want disband - not just curtail.

Yeah, I'm fine with getting rid of the millimeter wave body scanners, the rules on liquids, all of that noise. I think it should be a little more stringent (meaning still centralized scanning, and you can't go thru unless you can go thru a magnetometer clean or get a pat down) than pre-9/11 - but much less than the theatre we have now.


Nothing?


So, something different than the pre-2001 status quo?


no joke intended, some peoples shoes are so beyond nasty, that i would anticipate removal would trigger a chem hazard, or pathogen alert.


I've yet to see much differences in my travels. They run your shit through the machines in europe, just don't take your liquids... kinda a bitch, but people act like they gotta run the gauntlet.


but have you considered terrorism? how will we fight them at the airport instead of american streets?


im not trying to roast you, but i cant find any indication that TSA procedures, policies, or persons, have stopped any terrorist incident.

if you have, please share, as it looks like TSA in the present form is used for something other than transport safety, and duplicates many CBP functions.


I'm strongly in favor of massively de-scoping the TSA, but let's be real — if you could blow up a passenger plane by mailing a bomb, with no screening whatsoever, it would have been tried a few times. It's silly to discount the deterrent effect.

There are not terrorists lurking behind every door, but there are certainly disgruntled people who would do damage if there were no consequences or inhibitions.


the war probably had a major deterrent effect as well.


Is this irony?


Dissolve the TSA. Biggest fucking waste of tax payer money and aggregate loss of GDP ever invented.


There was a thread here that touched on this recently. The number of TSA defenders here surprised me.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=37624112


I mean what do you replace it with, return to the prior status quo of private security? I don't think that's even a good idea, and I dislike the TSA as much as everyone else - nor do I think having Local LE do it makes sense, because then you end up with 900 policies.


Do what all the other countries do, only the US manages to make the whole thing incredibly intolerable, with the ruddest staff they could hire.


As far as I know, the US was among the last countries to adopt what other countries did, which was have some sort of federal police perform airport security.

Also, I fly pretty regularly - about one round trip a month - I find the TSA folks pleasant to deal with, and generally courteous - but I also know I'm an actor in a play, and I need to go thru the motions like everyone else.

Functionally, TSA is about 50% theatre, its meant to make Bob and Eileen from Cedar Rapids who fly twice a decade feel safe.


Based on my experience travelling abroad, the security measures are pretty similar. Some of it could be due to international travel, but I don't think that explains departure security.

In the US, there's basically nothing different. I did fly NL to Germany, and back, and it was the same (obviously still international, but within EU). It seems not that many people fly domestic in NL, and there's little reason for relaxed security (who cares if they got stabbed in NL instead of Germany?)

So I don't understand what would be cut. If the freaking dutch are doing most of the same B.S., are we really out of order? Sure we can't have liquids, but isn't this only mildly bizarre and annoying?


I hate the TSA. But one thing to consider is it's effectively a jobs program, just like the US military. For better or worse these are people to whom we'd likely be funneling money in one fashion or another, at least the security theater makes it more palatable to the masses :shrug:


> it's effectively a jobs program

Then build roads, infrastructure, etc. Don't put a "jobs program" in charge of banning citizens from flying ever again, violating citizen's rights and more.


> in charge of banning citizens from flying ever again, violating citizen's rights and more.

You should speak the language people would understand.

"in charge of banning citizens from ever seeing their beloved on the other side of the country, violating citizen's assess and genitals and more"

That people understand


For better or worse these are people to whom we'd likely be funneling money in one fashion or another

Not a fan of TSA, but the people working there seem like normal, employable people. If we got rid of TSA, ~20% could probably stay working security at the Airports, and the other 80% could move on to actual productive jobs, and instead of us funneling money to them they'd be generating money.


Is that true though? Are there really that many jobs hanging around, in the areas in which these people live, paying an equal or better salary, for which these people are qualified? These aren't people who are going to stop working as a person standing around directing traffic and start coding distributed systems.

EDIT: I'm assuming they're paid more than min wage, I'll admit I don't know.


I'm lazy[0], so the first links:

    TSA (Transportation Security Administration) salaries: How much does TSA (Transportation Security Administration) pay?

    Popular Roles
    Transportation Officer
    $43,454 per year
    Transportation Specialist
    $76,443 per year
    Marshal
    $67,643 per year
    
    https://www.indeed.com/cmp/TSA-(transportation-Security-Administration)/salaries
    
Also see https://www.tsacareer.com/tsa-pay-scale/

[0] well, looks I'm a bit less lazier than you, heh


Only thing I know of is that the people who couldn't qualify to be prison guards would go work at the TSA.


Some of them are nice, normal, employable people. Some of them are angry fascists. Some of them are thieves. Some of them are rapists.


Fix potholes? Pick up litter? Clean up subway stations and bus stops? Maintain trails? Education and youth programs? Learning new skills? Building benches, lean-tos, monuments, and other simple structures? Creating new national parks to cover the recent extreme demand? Planting flowers on the side of highways? Spelling out words for aerial photos?

There are many better ways to productively create low skill jobs than hassling and molesting travelers while on a petty power trip.


Stack blocks or some other completely pointless activity: TSA isn't just worthless, by massively slowing down air travel and making it less enjoyable it provides negative value. We would be better off if most of the TSA staff stood out on the tarmac shuffling around pallets all day long for no particular purpose.


I agree with you.

However for large swaths of the country's population people would interpret all of the above as "socialism" and they'd complain. In contrast "defend our people from evil terrorists", either via TSA or military, does not get the same scrutiny.


Sure, that's called culture. It feeds into itself, and is essentially what we're critiquing. The proto-fascist culture where the only uses of government are domination and control shouldn't be encouraged.


Again, 100% agreed. But for someone wondering "why do we pay these people?", this is the answer.


You're trying to make this weird middleground between normative and positive statements.

In the positive sense, obviously a whole lot of suckers bought into nonsense about terrorists hiding under their beds. We know this is the unfortunate realpolitik dynamic. We don't need to infer unspoken motivations about jobs programs, because the straightforward narrative of security theater blanket is still carrying the day.

In the normative sense, it's nonsensical to treat the broken culture of fear/domination as inevitable. That culture is wrong, regardless of how overwhelming it is.


Sure, some of those sound like socialism, but not fixing roads, and I don't think cleaning up transit stations either (but of course, having transit stations could be considered socialism, and making therefore making the stations better could be too).

Hell, making roads nice and making nice parks sounds a lot like 'make america great again' to me. But maybe I'm not conservative enough to be the sounding board.


Again, I 100% agree with this too. And yet I guarantee that it'd be excoriated on Fox News.


> I hate the TSA. But one thing to consider is it’s effectively a jobs program

How was transferring the security function from private industry to the federal government a jobs program? Its an airline-industry subsidy (and it was lobbied for by the industry for exactly that reason in the wake of 9/11), both by making the government responsible for the direct cost of the function and by the government absorbing (or, via sovereign immunity, eliminating) legal liability for both abuses in carrying the function out and failures resulting in harms to travelers and third parties.


When people say "dissolve the TSA", they don't mean: "I want all the security theatre, it's just that I want private industry to do it". They mean: "eliminate the security theatre, thus vastly decreasing the number of people employed to perform security theatre operations". It's a jobs program because all of theatre needs a huge number of bodies to perform the play.


Yes, exactly this. Further, its a jobs program because it allows for an easy vector to add *more* jobs by adding *more* theater and by and large the citizens are willing to accept it. Because who wants to argue against safety?


Arguably the TSA is actually reducing security by breaking locks on gun cases and such.


The existing security function was transferred, but the scope/intensity increased.

What used to be two, maybe three people running a metal detector and an x-ray machine for parcels, is now probably ten people running a lot more equipment, a lot slower.

I'm not convinced we need the intensity of inspection that we have, especially when passenger education in real time was enough to foil the targeting of the 4th plane, and locked cockpit doors and policy changes should foil hijackings without the participation of the pilots. It's a huge cost for a small benefit.


Airport security used to be two people operating a single metal detector.

Now it's dozens of people operating xrays, body scanners, metal detectors, searches, etc.


>How was transferring the security function from private industry to the federal government a jobs program?

By making it much less efficient.


They could clean the streets instead, that'd be a better use of money and everyone's time.


As I've noted elsewhere in the thread, somehow "clean the streets" is considered to be "evil socialism" to half the country but "stand around looking bored by the security line" is not. And that's why it is the way it is.


But the "work" they do at the TSA wastes immense amounts of time and property, as well as causing untold amounts of stress on people who do actually productive things. Putting them to work planting trees or some other useful activity would be far better for everyone.


I would much rather the government paid people money to dig ditches and fill them back in, or even just give them the money for free, rather than paying people to actively make others' lives worse.


Give them jobs fixing roads then.


Also the job still needs to be done, be it TSA or something else.


We could have jobs programs to green our economy, planet and lives, instead of glorified daycare for adults.


& those are the people we force the rest of the populace to interact with? Perhaps not the best idea.


well then we should fund other jobs programs too like gas station attendants & lift button pushers.


Thinking back on the negative experiences I've had with gas station attendants, suddenly the awful stories about the TSA makes a lot more sense.


well any job where you have some degree of security from being fired and in general somebody being forced to pay for outside of market forces will have negative experiences. so thats a separate problem in itself.


I'm all for creating jobs for people who need them, but can they at least do that where they're not as bothersome and won't go through my luggage because I packed a gel sleep mask? every single time :/


The TSA was literally arguing for more rape, what planet do I live on...


No they are arguing that the TSA itself is not liable for the actions of its employees. Despite the article clearly being written to make it sound like the agents are also free from consequences this is solely about the agency itself.

That said every time they have made their sovereign immunity claim it has been resoundingly rejected at the federal circuit level so it would be the decent human thing to do to just acknowledge culpability rather than constantly fighting it.


The government is never your friend.


On the one run by American military and security empire.




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