Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


First Hand Report about New TSA Indignities

In “GE Puffer Stinks of Dr. Strangelove,” Kim Cameron writes about his experiences with the new explosive detection machines:

People, I really hated the GE product. It is tiny, and closes around you. I felt seriously claustrophobic. Then it shot bursts of air at me so hard it actually hurt.

I had been told there would be “puffs of air”, but these were not, by any definition, puffs.

“Puffs” make me think of cigar smoke. Or “Puff the magic dragon”. Puffs of wind. But these were hurricane strength blasts.

Meanwhile the machine barks orders like a concentration camp commandant. Where did they get the voice? It speaks in a chilling metallic imperative borrowed from a really bad science fiction movie. In fact it was barely believable that adults would unleash this contraption on anyone.

I have a number of quick thoughts and questions:

  • Doubtless, TSA will be rolling these out nationwide shortly.
  • Did they make you take off your shoes? Of course. The indignities are never reduced, or tested for efficacy.
  • Wait till you see what they mean by “consent to search.”
  • Private to Kim: If you find this happening again, you might print your own backup boarding passes. It’s what all the cool (and uncool) kids do.

(Thanks to Gunnar Peterson for the pointer.)

4 comments on "First Hand Report about New TSA Indignities"

  • SFO Airport Security Notes

    Passed through SFO yesterday. A few notes: They’re still asking you to take your shoes off, but at least when you tell them you don’t want to they directly tell you that they’ll give secondary screening if you don’t. Well,…

  • Nikita says:

    It may not be as simple as printing your own boarding pass, since it’s possible (I don’t know) that the computer at the gate tells the agents which people were SSSSelected, so that they can look for the marker the TSA people left. So even if you print your own “all clear” boarding pass and use it to get past security, they will notice that there’s no mark on your real pass.
    Of course, the identifying mark the TSA in O’Hare used last week was a star-shaped hole-punch. I guess someone cracked their previous technique of a pink marker!

  • Adam says:

    I bet the pink markers were for sale inside the security perimiter, too.

  • Oh, I’ve been through it, and it’s not that bad.

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