Bill to strip TSA agents of their badges and the title “officer”

Per CNN:

The nation’s 44,000 airport screeners would lose the title “officer,” their metal badges and maybe even the stripes down their pant legs under a bill sponsored by a Transportation Security Administration critic.

Called the “STRIP Act,” for “Stop TSA’s Reach In Policy Act,” the bill was introduced by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, on Thursday in response to a series of alleged strip searches by TSA officers.

While I doubt the bill will go anywhere, this actually makes a lot of sense. TSA agents are government clerks, whether or not they want to throw around the term “officer.”

I once got in a bit of an argument with a TSA agent who I referred to by his last name, “Mr. Williams.” I was trying to be respectful by doing so, though he insisted that he was worthy of being referred to as “Officer Williams,” so I requested to be referred to as “Officer” as well. He then asked me if I’m a law enforcement officer, to which I responded “no, I’m a chief executive officer… are you a law enforcement officer?” Of course he just shrugged his shoulders…

Seriously though, TSA agents aren’t law enforcement officers, and I think the lack of a badge or title “officer” would help remind them of that.

Comments

  1. I always feel bad for the inordinate number of women that are barefoot after having to remove their shoes at security, since the floor is usually so dirty I’m loathe to even walk on it with socks on! Besides, if the radiation scanners cant see through sandals, how effective could they be?

  2. Even if the bill passes, I’m lukewarm to its goal. While I agree they shouldn’t have the word officer as part of their job title, I think the officer / federal officer complex is low on the list of offensive things they do. Does anyone truly believe changing their job titles will do anything to fix the systemic problems that even congress has documented in a recently published report?

  3. He then asked me if I’m a law enforcement officer, to which I responded “no, I’m a chief executive officer… are you a law enforcement officer?”`

    sassy 😀

  4. I think it is a hard job. I think Rep. Blackburn is taking some publicized cases that have yet to be determined to be true (I am not saying it isn’t true), and taking some TSA workers bad judgements and painting them all with one broad stroke. Many of these men and women fulfill do their jobs with no violations/problems. This is like her saying that because some politicians are corrupt that they all should be voted out of office. This should not go through. Sorry Rep. Blackburn but your logic is flawed.

  5. Lucky, to be honest I find your occasional nasty interactions with TSA employees to be rude. They are doing their job and they have an important one to do. I would rather have them be too extensive than miss something. Have we forgotten 9/11 or the countless attacks and attempts since? There really is no reason to be rude to them.

  6. Other Ben,
    I totally agree there’s no reason for excessive rudeness, Lucky is not being at all nasty or rude here. I think he was just standing up for himself (in a rather hilarious fashion that incidentally also brightened my morning). Many people switch behavioral modes once they enter an airport as they are herded from one place to the next and it seems they forget a lot at home — sense of propriety, sense of humor, etc. — Lucky isn’t this kind of traveler. This was probably a subtle reminder to that TSA agent to actually do his job (which isn’t to get caught up with silly titles) and remind him of the notion that he has to deal with actual individual people.

  7. Other Ben: Mr. Williams is a pompous arse. Lucky was being cheeky at worst (or best).

    And no, we’re not mice. We haven’t forgotten that danger is an enviable part of life. I’m sure most appreciate and are willing to pay for secure air travel. However, the public’s generally poor impression of the TSA speaks volumes as to how it’s been implemented.

    And before you get too excited about the job they’re doing, here’s my experience. I travel domestically with a classic safety razor. Though managing to be rude and unfriendly about 50% of the time, not a single TSA screener has noticed. On every single trip through HKG, they’ve removed the razor with a smile.

  8. @Other Ben — Accepting that because we were attacked by terrorists we must subject ourselves to a ridiculous intrusion into our lives is just sad. I will completely agree that most TSA employees are trying to be courteous and do their job well. That doesn’t change the fact that there are some jerks with big egos working those jobs or that the restrictions TSA implements are mostly security theater that just causes more harm than good.

    Government almost always acts reactively rather than proactively. In focusing entirely on past events while ignoring other changes that have occurred since those events, we are probably LESS safe. The public at large figured out how to deal with a 9/11-style attack on 9/11. There’s a memorial to that fact in Pennsylvania. After 9/11, the only significant change the government should have taken is to require that the cockpit doors be reinforced and more secure. In any event, never again was control of a commercial airliner going to be given to terrorists. The crew and the other passengers would have guaranteed that without the government doing a single thing.

    With respect to the shoe and underwear bombers, it has been pretty clear from TSA and outside experts that not a single one of the security “enhancements” undertaken since those attempts would have actually prevented those attempts. They just make it look like TSA has taken steps to prevent people from smuggling bombs in on their person. It’s a farce. Airport security is an important task, but TSA does not implement effective security and imposes significant costs upon our country, in terms of both loss of privacy and convenience and actual financial losses to the airlines and the public at large.

  9. I believe most TSA agents(?), are cop “wannabes” and crave authority. As Federal employees, there are times they forget who they work for. How often are travelers addressed as “Sir” or “Madam” by TSA personnel?

  10. @autolycus et al. +1
    Lock down the cockpit so planes can’t become missiles; any other airport security should be left to the airlines getting paid to efficiently move people from A to B. Every time a TSA screener tells me about moving his hand to the point of “resistance,” the terrorists win.

    (I was afraid of getting pulled into another hopeless heated policy debate, but Lucky seems to like those in his blog comments so I bit.)

  11. The TSA is just security theater as has very little impact on safety.
    Those who travel frequently have many stories about items which they discovered were still in their luggage or jackets when they have returned.
    Knives, razor blades etc…

    The most recent absurd item was watching the confiscate the tiny louisville slugger bats from kids while letting us through with a wooden walking stick.

  12. Body Imaging Screening.
    During consideration of the Transportation Security Administration Authorization bill (H.R. 2200), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (RUtah) offered an amendment that would prohibit the use of Whole-Body Imaging (WBI) as the primary method of screening at airports. The amendment would allow passengers the option of a patdown search rather than being subjected to a WBI search that shows extremely intimate details of one’s body. The Chaffetz amendment would also prohibit TSA from storing, copying, or transferring any images that are produced by WBI machines. Since its creation, TSA has become infamous for its meddlesome searches and disregard for an individual’s right of privacy. Evidence shows that corruption and mismanagement have been commonplace within the relatively new federal department for years. The Chaffetz amendment would do very little to scale back the power held by the TSA, but it does offer some hope that our representatives are not wholly unaware of how the TSA and its policies would threaten the privacy of American citizens through a process that has been called a “virtual strip-search.” The House adopted the Chaffetz amendment by a “Committee of the Whole” on June 4, 2009, by a vote of 310-118 (Roll Call 305). Such technology is obtrusive for American citizens and violates our right of protection against unwarranted searches and seizures.
    Marsha Blackburn voted AGAINST this bill.
    Marsha Blackburn is my Congressman.
    She is no conservative.
    See her unconstitutional votes at :
    http://mickeywhite.blogspot.com/2009/09/tn-congressman-marsha-blackburn-votes.html
    Mickey

  13. lucky –

    Your arrogance is not appealing. You need to show respect if you want to earn respect.

    TSA personnel are doing their jobs, and most of them are hard working and sincere.

    If you don’t agree with the TSA policies and procedures, contact your representatives in Congress instead of arguing with TSA personnel.

  14. I agree with Uwr. And everyone says “Lock the cockpit” ummm what about keeping the plane from blowing up?? I guess everyone forgot that happens too or some people just like jumping on other peoples band wagons without making their own decision. Oh and like someone may have said, every agency has bad apples, INCLUDING true law enforcement officers, yet people don’t want them the have badges removed or guns taken away. Some people amaze me by te tunnel vision they aquire.

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