The TSA, aside from its amusing Internet presence, is arguably one of the most annoying government agencies to exist. These guys can’t really need all this time to bomb-squad your bag, right? Turns out that they probably don’t.
Jason Harrington spent years working as a TSA agent, and enjoyed it just as much as you’d think. Writing for Politico, Harrington breaks out what it’s like to be the guy feeling your testicles. And if you thought groping people for money was bad, oh, it gets worse:
Once, in 2008, I had to confiscate a bottle of alcohol from a group of Marines coming home from Afghanistan. It was celebration champagne intended for one of the men in the group—a young, decorated soldier. He was in a wheelchair, both legs lost to an I.E.D., and it fell to me to tell this kid who would never walk again that his homecoming champagne had to be taken away in the name of national security.
Harrington also lays out TSA slang, which unsurprisingly mostly revolves around telling other male TSA officers that there’s an attractive woman in the line, and why, precisely, the TSA is accused of racial profiling pretty much constantly. It’s not because they’re racist, necessarily, but because of the arbitrary list of countries posted on the back of their badges:
…all TSA officers worked with a secret list printed on small slips of paper that many of us taped to the back of our TSA badges for easy reference: the Selectee Passport List. It consisted of 12 nations that automatically triggered enhanced passenger screening. The training department drilled us on the selectee countries so regularly that I had memorized them, like a little poem:
Syria, Algeria, Afghanistan
Iraq, Iran, Yemen
People’s Republic of North Korea.
As Harrington notes, these countries were picked for political reasons, not reasons of actual safety. Harrington claims this policy ended in 2010, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it continued in some airports. Or the TSA screeners are just really racist.
In short, the TSA is every bit as incompetent as you think, and it’s not going anywhere. Hooray national security!
(Image courtesy of billypalooza on Flickr.)