TSA: Anonymity Breeds Contempt

I don’t, as a general principle, allow anonymous comments here. Chief among the reasons is that the more anonymous people are, the worse they behave. People do things behind tinted glass on the freeway that they would never do on the sidewalk. They say things from the cover of darkness that they would never say in the light of day.

Why do TSA goons steal? They steal because they can. They steal from your checked luggage because when you get to Chicago and your cufflinks are missing, there is no way for you to track down the guy in the Atlanta airport who stole them. If TSA wanted to stop its employees stealing from checked luggage, there’d be a simple solution: any TSA employee who opens a bag puts his name in it.

But that would create accountability, and the security state cannot operate if its functionaries are accountable. If screeners knew that their mothers were likely to read on the internet about what they were doing on the job, they would be on much better behavior, which would not aid in the government’s avowed program of unquestioning compliance.

If We the People don’t create accountability, they will never change their ways.

One of the weapons the People can lawfully use to create accountability is publication of the truth: “naming and shaming.” While a complaint through official channels goes nowhere (we have investigated and found that ze agent vas chust follovink orders), publication of an offending TSA employee’s name gets her attention. Some day she might want to get a real job, or rent an apartment, or date a decent human being; the fact that she once abused authority in the name of safety might get in the way of any of those projects. (As, I would argue, it should: any TSA employee or former employee who has not publicly denounced the agency should feel more ostracism than that with which our society treats sex offenders who don’t work for TSA.)

A blogger who has been vigorous in promoting TSA accountability by naming and shaming its criminals (see Thedala Magee and Tiffany Applewhite) is “Advice Goddess” Amy Alkon. Thanks to Alkon, when you google Thedala Magee’s name Simple Justice pops up—an unenviable position for a government bully. We know that the naming and shaming is working because Thedala Magee lawyered up and made a hollow threat to sue Alkon.

Alkon seems to be a frequent target for TSA abuse, whether because of her figure (“It is odd that I, like many large-breasted women am always chosen—always by men at the metal detectors—to go for further screening. Every time I fly.”) or because she is an outspoken critic of the agency’s security theatre (buxom revolutionaries, beware!).

Most recently at JFK Terminal 2:

The light-skinned black woman who screened me, last name “Moore,” was wearing her photo ID upside down so her first name could not be read. After she ran her hands, most disgustingly, all over my body, grazing my labia and touching my breasts and inside my turtleneck on my bare skin, I told her I needed her first name. She refused to give it to me.

Moore’s supervisor, Roger Grant, also refused to give Alkon Moore’s first name; he also refused to give her a complaint form.

Eventually the world will learn who Ms. Moore is. It may happen because TSA’s flack answers Alkon’s questions; more likely it will happen because one of Alkon’s readers passing through JFK gets Moore’s first name, snaps a photo, and sends it to Alkon. In any case, Alkon will do a follow-up post. And when she does, woe betide Ms. Moore if her name is as googleable as Thedala Magee’s.

I would like to make this little contribution to the revolution: Good on Alkin for demanding names (and for having the will to publish them and the readership to make a difference) but she’s doing so at the wrong time.

I don’t fly out of US airports anymore, but if I did I would ask to see ID—including first and last name—before allowing the gropedown to begin. If Alkon started demanding names before being touched, she would be much more likely to get them (it’s not an unreasonable request that she know who is touching her before the festivities begin); the person giving her name would be more likely to be circumspect (I assume that a less-offensive encounter is one of Alkon’s objectives); and in the likely event that she did behave in a way that Alkon thought inappropriate or excessive, Alkon would immediately have a name to share with the world.

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