The TSA Is Making a List and Checking It Twice

When you travel on an airplane in the United States you must first subject yourself to the depravities of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). Usually your options are to either walk through a slave scanner so a pervert can look at your naked body or submit yourself to sexual assault. It turns out that not everybody meekly rolls over when given these options. When air travelers decide to do anything other than shuffle through the security line with a submissive downcast gaze, their name goes on the TSA’s secret naughty list:

I thought of this exchange last week when the New York Times revealed that the Transportation Security Administration has created a secret watchlist for troublesome passengers. The TSA justified the list by saying that its screeners were assaulted 34 times last year, but did not release any details about the alleged assaults.

Naturally, the TSA’s official definition of troublemaking goes well beyond punching its officers. According to a confidential memo, any behavior that is “offensive and without legal justification” can land a traveler on the list, as can any “challenges to the safe and effective completion of screening.” Anyone who has ever “loitered” near a checkpoint could also make the list. So could any woman who pushes a screener’s hands away from her breasts.

The memo would be more accurate if it stated that anyone who fails to unquestioningly submit to all the TSA’s demands would be found guilty of insubordination. As an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Hugh Handeyside, told the Washington Post, the policy gives the agency wide latitude to “blacklist people arbitrarily and essentially punish them for asserting their rights.”

According to the New York Times article mentioned in the above except, landing on the list doesn’t prohibit you from flying… yet. However, governments frequently use lists to punish people in the future. There may come a time when landing on this list will prohibit you from flying just as landing on several other secret government lists can currently prohibit you from flying. If that happens, you flying privileges will be in the hands of a flunkies who were probably bullied in high school and took a job with the TSA so they could live their revenge fantasies. But, hey, the United States is the freest country on Earth!