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An Adult Talk about TSA and The War on Terrorisim | An Old Soldiers View

Updated on November 22, 2010

Folks, it is that time when we need to have a serious talk about the War on Terrorists and travel in the USA. Recent changes in the screening process have raised an awful lot of hackles and there are some good points brought forward clouded by a fair bit of whining. Time to separate a bit of the wheat from the chaff.

Folks, it did not take the attempt to fire a car bomb in time square to remind me that there are enemy agents here in the US. It did not take the London Bomb Airline Bomb Plot to remind me that these people will use women and small children to conceal explosives. Things like baby bottles, lotion bottles, hair gel containers, were used because evil people had watched the process and determined what the authorities were not checking. That is the nature of warfare. Do I really need to remind you that when we don’t check Nuns and Children or Granny in her chair, or a prosthesis device;. That is where the next device will be concealed? I have read accounts of Palestinian Mothers who were grateful their Children could become Martyrs, this is the enemy we face.

Racial profiling is not the profiling they use in the Israeli model, since if you mixed up 15 Palestinians and 15 Israelis dressed alike you wouldn’t know who was who. There are blonde Bosnian Muslims, and dark featured Iraqi Christians. There are Black White, and Brown American Muslims. So for those that say just profile the Muslims I ask you to tell anyone how you pick them out. If you think you can than I am here to tell you that you underestimate our enemy.
Map of Flight 103 Debris Field
Map of Flight 103 Debris Field
Lockerbie Scotland
Lockerbie Scotland

Are there ways to do these checks better? I would suppose so and as the process continues I expect, and we all should demand that they are brought to bear. Is the TSA a stumblebum? I would point to the fact that no known attempt at hijacking or bombing has emanated from a US Airport since 9/11/2001. Someone in that organization is doing something right. It the process could certainly be better.

I have heard a hue and cry for us to adopt the Israeli profiling model as the primary screening method. It works in Israel for about 40-60 international flights per day, and you have to be there three hours early. But what folks don’t know is that some of the profiling procedures have been in use with the airlines and TSA for many years.

I know this because I traveled in and out of Baghdad every four months from 2004-2009. I was routinely identified by both the Airlines and TSA (and Foreign equivalents) for ‘Additional Screening’ and routinely searched at little old Savannah International Airport every time I returned to work. Often by US Customs on my return to the states I would receive the same treatment of my luggage. This is a statement of fact not a complaint, I have seen up close and personal the result an airplane crash has on the human body and I appreciated it. This process adds to the gate time at the Airport, not a big deal if your arrival and departures are planned for that. But what folks don’t consider is, that at the larger busier US Airports the gate turn around time is already solidly booked, if you increase that time, then you are going to have fewer flights. By probably a third. Think about the economic impact that would have.

Here is the fundamental fact that you must consider when traveling here in the US. WE ARE AT WAR. In WWII aluminum and copper bottom pots and pans were collected from housewives by the government to make the machines of war. Gas was rationed; folks understood they had a part to play in the defense of this nation. This is now the new norm, searches either electronically, verbally, or physically must be conducted for air and probably soon for rail travel (Think Barcelona). You have a choice to use alternative methods, or you can do the equivalent of staring the terrorists in the eye and by your actions say I will not be run off because of you.

Now a word to the TSA in general. If your supervisors haven’t already explained this then let me just remind you that you are in a customer service security business. You have three entities to answer to. Your Employer (TSA), Your Client (The American People), and your Customers (The Flying Public). If you are not approaching your duties in a professional way, be prepared for some significant events. Take a moment at the start of each shift, and after every break, to stop and put yourself in your customers shoes. If you do your duties well, folks will ultimately appreciate the fact that you did. If not, look for FOX, CNN, the Local TV Stations, etc to hear about it and start the poop ball rolling from above. To the flying public I would ask that if you are treated poorly that you get that screeners name and file a report, if not with the government than with one of the news organizations mentioned above. Be specific, with the details date and time, and identify the individual that gave you poor treatment.

I’ve heard one gentleman on TV remind folks that after 9/11 he had to attend 11 funerals and didn’t wish to have to do it again. Well folks when you line up for whatever method of screening please contemplate the more than 500 service members that have given their lives in Afghanistan for your safety. Consider that while they were living the inconvenience of a backscatter body search would have been minor considering where they were living and where the troops that hold that line live now. It is but a small part you may have to play in the war but this is your part; Do your Duty.

I’ll just wrap this up by reminding all sides in this that we face a determined and evolving enemy. Vigilance is a necessity, and a mind set unto itself. One that we would be wise to adopt every time we travel.

Now I’ve given my talk and I certainly would be the last one to tell you I have all the answers. So if we can foster a civil discussion in the comments I’m all for reading what others think, keep it civil, and we’ll have a good time. God Bless you all!


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    • antonrosa profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Very interesting to read!

    • seherb1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Reading your article made me think remember the times when we were able to see each other off at the gate. I used to be amazed that we were allowed to get such a close by send off. Now all that is ruined because of some idiotic terrorists jealous of our freedom of living. I'm not happy about the nature of our high security levels, but I do understand that measures need to be taken, and that TSA is not to blame, though I do wish they'd check everyone, like the entire flight crew. However at the end of the day, I just want to get from A to B in one happy piece.

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      8 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      I don't know why pilots and crew be exempt? Weren't some of the terrorist involved in 9/11 going to flying school?

      If this is what it takes to protect our country and people, so be it.

      Don't like it get out!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Dittos on that Dusty! thanks.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Hammer, good write and many points to keep the scans going forward. I'm not flying anytime soon and may well never fly commercial again. One thing I'm sure of, I don't want to die in a plane cabin where 340 passengers have crapped their pants, all at the same time!That would be a bad day in my opinion, Peace, 50

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Peg - I'm with you on the all for one one for all process. I saw Ms Clinton's comment and thought it was in bad taste. But when the leadership at the very top is poor so it goes throughout the organization. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Safe travels too ya.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      aguasilver - Seems a shame that an old sergeant is the one who has to remind people we are at war. You'd think folks at the top of the chain would get the message and pass it on.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      8 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      You made some good points here Hmrjmr1. From the perspective of a former airline stew (1977) and now frequent business traveler I can see both sides of the screening issue. When you consider that it could be really easy to impersonate flight professionals who are dead heading (flying on board but not working a flight) or even an 86 yo who may or may not be a Granny or whose walker could be compromised, it causes some concern that these folks would be exempted from the process, along with the very real concern that they could be subjected to rude and inconsiderate agents who push their power beyond the necessary.

      Recently I flew home unexpectedly via a one-way ticket due to death in the family. One way tickets are a RED flag to TSA and so I was subjected to a FULL X-Ray and a vigorous frisking (gloved hands under and between my upper body parts). Yes, I was offended and embarrassed. But I was also grateful that my plane made it safely home.

      What really grinds my gears is that certain politicians (whose initials are Hillary) laughingly state they will avoid this process, while the general public like us still have to endure it. I say make everyone do it or not at all, including the top representatives in our government. Even so, the enemy will observe the process and find a way if we are not diligent. As you've said, we're at war.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 

      8 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Like the (new) joke goes... two Palestinian mothers were studying photos of their suicide bomber children, one turns to the other and says "They blow us so early these days" - OK it's a sick joke, I apologise, but thank you for pointing out the fact, which is kept quiet, that WE ARE AT WAR, and as such, need to protect our nations interests.

      On the other hand WW2 cost 60 million lives to win (or lose depending on your side) and so far we have a very low body count in this war, whereas God alone knows how many people on the 'other' side have been killed, participants or collateral damage, they are still dead.

      Like you say, no easy answers, but actually admitting we are at war would be a good start.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for stopping by Mickey. We have to look this situation in the eye and do what we must.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 

      8 years ago

      The enemies "within our borders" should not be overlooked. No secret governments- ever. Thank you Hmrjmr1

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      I'm not an expert so with your concerns I would research it further. Thanks again good luck.

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Hey, thanks for this further bit of info! My understanding is, though, that all that radiation is onto the skin, and a layer or so below, so it is highly concentrated (?).

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Ms Dee - Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I have read that the total radiation from the backscatter machines are like adding 7-9 minutes to your flight. at altitude. Fairly small amount. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

    • Ms Dee profile image

      Deidre Shelden 

      8 years ago from Texas, USA

      Appreciate this experienced perspective. I'm trusting that the TSA's doing of their duties will improve with more experience, even with keeping up the same intensity of security search. All new procedures go through a breaking in period and a bit of vetting. I, myself, am waiting to fly until more information is available on the effects of the radiation all focused on the skin, as I am a high risk for skin cancer. Great hub!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Pam Thanks for stopping by, I think if we had a real leader at the top folks would be willing to follow and understand when distasteful things or sacrifices must be done. Unfortunately we do not have such a person in place. God Bless you and your Family and a Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      hmrjmr, You made some relevant points and I know there is a need for vigilance. I don't think pilots should have to be scanned either.

      They always search my mother (age 86) as she has a prosthesis, which seems like a waste of time when there are so many more likely people they could search.

      I have heard her stories of all the things people were willing to do during WWII, and they sure made sacrifices willingly. People aren't willing to do that anymore. We don't have the patriotism in this country that I remember in my childhood either, which is sad. I do think profiling is warranted in these times.

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      eovery - I couldn't agree with you more about needing to be smarter than the bad guys. And I do not say there isn't some stupid mixed in with it all as well. Yep it seems reasonable to exempt pilots and crew.

      If I had young daughters I would seriously look at driving everywhere instead of flying. That is a reasonable choice with the threat at hand.

      No good answers for the whole situation but you have to ask yourself, andthe country has to define for the leadership clearly what is the acceptable level of risk? Thanks for stopping by and commenting I hope you and your family have a Happy Thanksgiving. God Bless!

    • eovery profile image


      8 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

      hmrjmr, I know this is a security issue, but it seems to be getting out of hand. The pilot, who can crash the plane at anytime, has to go through this. Come on this is out idiotic.

      I am not planning to fly anytime soon, and I am very reluctant to take my daughters through this security.

      How many terrorist have been caught by this? I know it is just a deteriorate method, and it may be keeping the terrorist off from our airlines.

      The will of the Al Quada is to hurt us financially, and they are winning because the large defense budget is bankrupting us. We must be smarter and more thrifty on defense strategy, or else the beatle will kill the large tree.

      keep on hubbing!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Pop - As I said above you re correct that racial profiling is not an effective technique and that Verbal and behavioral profiling is a part of an effective program. I inculded that because I have read opinions to the effect that we pick out granny so as not to offend the Muslim next to her in line. Fact is they pick out granny and everybody else to keep em guessing as to who will or will not screen.

      Common sense is a necessity, not a luxury. But enhanced screening of everybody when the threat level is high (like around the Holidays) is a proven prevention measure as it tends to make the perpetrators regroup. I don't think anybody has to like it or even think its a good thing but War is full of stuff we don't like to do. It just is what it is. Thanks for commenting and Happy Thanksgiving! Love ya POP XXOO

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Profiling is not necessarily racial profiling. It is the implementation of intelligent techniques designed to ferret out the potential threat. I believe in it. My 86 year old neighbor flew to Rochester this weekend and was asked to walk through the scanner. This is ridiculous as was the humiliation a young boy who was subjected the groping idiotic hands of a TSA agent. Use common sense when it comes to utilizing these procedures. Is this too much to ask for?

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for your comment tndrhrt, Happy Thanksgiving!

    • tnderhrt23 profile image


      8 years ago

      I fear we have become a people unwilling to endure "inconvenience" for any reason. I had the lovely opportunity to travel to Europe a few years ago during the winter. On my journey home, one of my flights was postponed three times at the airport in Rome. When we finally boarded our now very late flight, the pilot announced, after a 30 minute pause at the gate, that there were technical difficulties with the aircraft, due to the current weather conditions. He apologized, but regretfully informed us that our flight was canceled and we had to de-board the plane to await a flight in the morning. The overall attitude and response of nearly all passengers was rude, angry and ugly. I, for one, would prefer a temporary delay for the sake of my safety over a risk that was carelessly taken resulting in my plane falling from the sky due to ice...It is the same issue concerning security...I would rather sacrifice a bit of inconvenience for the sake of safety. And I so agree with enemy underestimated is an enemy that conquers! We can not afford to become complacent or lazy, for that is what the enemy counts on! Diligence that costs a bit of inconvenience is certainly worth it in my book...I will gladly pay the price!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Thanks for stopping by Simey have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 

      8 years ago from NJ, USA

      Very interesting article. Personally I'd like to see some form of profiling - but this is probably in addition to heightened security! It's amazing the outcry because of scans etc, but I pointed out in an earlier hub - this isn't a game, it's life and death - and you summed it up better - WE ARE AT WAR.


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