Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Highly trained" TSA agents

The TSA has been making much lately of the "fact" that their airport security gropers are "highly trained" in what they're supposed to do when they screen you. I have not gone through the exact same training as the TSA, but I have gone through similar training in the past for a different government agency. So let me share with you exactly what this training consisted of:

We were placed in a large conference room. There were 40 of us, and two trainers. We were given a workbook and then shown a film on the technique we were being trained in. We were then expected to fill in the blanks in the workbook. This first part of the "highly trained" coursework for this technique took approximately one hour.

Once the trainers had come around and checked that we had properly filled in our workbooks, and gotten us to correct whatever we'd written down wrong, the trainers then demonstrated the technique. One trainer performed the technique upon the other trainer. We were then allowed to ask questions. This second part of the "training" took one hour.

So with two hours of "training", we were supposed to have mastered the technique we were being taught. Note that we did not actually perform the technique ourselves while under the supervision of the trainers. That would have opened up the trainers (who were contractors from some "center" that had been contracted to conduct the training) to potential sexual harassment lawsuits or personal injury lawsuits if someone performed the technique wrong and managed to grope the wrong thing or managed to injure someone. Rather, the workbooks were picked up and kept on file to "prove" we were trained, and we were issued a certificate that "proved" we were trained. We were then sent into the actual environment where we were supposed to perform the technique under the supervision of an experienced person... who had received the exact same damned training, and thus was as clueless as we were but was expected to correct us if we did it wrong.

One thing that has become obvious, from reading the reports on the TSA gropings, is that the gropings are being done differently at different airports. At some airports prosthetics must be removed and examined personally by the groper to verify that they're not explosives. At other airports the person with the prosthetics gets them felt, but then gets sent onward without having to remove them. This is a sign of "training" conducted in exactly the way I describe above, which is laughable and ridiculous but that's what happens when you have contractors doing the training -- they're lowest bidder, so they cut down the "training" to the least possible (2 hours in our case) and they're lawsuit-averse, so they don't allow you to actually practice what they're training you to do. So it goes in Soviet America... where our government gropes us, and most of us like it.

-- Badtux the Sovok Penguin


  1. It’s another representation of how the whole fascisecurity system exhibits NO common sense. Instead of hiring/training guards with PERCEPTION of who might be a threat and who’s just an old white guy, it’s one of these “zero skill set” jobs. They’re designed so you can plug any monkey off the street into the spot next to the scanner, and as long as they follow the written procedures of “hassle people just like THIS.”

    I think the system isn’t designed to prevent terrrrrrrrrrist attacks. It’s just so that when a plane DOES blow up, the TSA’s ass is covered because they can claim “We were doing our job! We hassled everyone just like the manual said. Don’t blame US because the eeeeeeeevil ones came up with something that was outside the manual. We’re writing a new hassle manual right now so they won’t do THAT again.”

  2. Off-topic, but I just read an essay titled "The Federal Reserve and the Pathology of Power" which touches on two things you write about, economics and power dynamics. It's from a blog titled "Of Two Minds" by a guy named Charles Hugh Smith, who you might have heard of. He's a conceptual thinker type, neither Left nor Right. Some of your other readers with an econ mindset might be interested in it too. Discusses issues like how power not only corrupts, but it perverts the very things it's supposed to be protecting.

  3. This reminds me of how I got certified to do A/C repairs back in the mid nineties when they came out with the new refrigerant. I watched a fucking video with forty other guys and was handed a certificate.

  4. With the TSA training, they actually do the pat-downs on each other. Been there, done that. If I hadn't had to deal with the idiot public, I would have lasted longer than a month!!!


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