Thursday, December 15, 2011

Response Posted to White House We the People Petition

We the People banner. If you’re not familiar with We the People, it’s a new web platform created by the White House that gives all Americans a way to create and sign petitions on a range of different issues.

A petition was created asking for TSA to be abolished, and TSA Administrator John S. Pistole has just responded.

Take a look at the response and feel free to leave a comment here on the TSA Blog.  

TSA Blog Team
If you’d like to comment on an unrelated topic you can do so in our Off Topic Comments post. You can also view our blog post archives or search our blog to find a related topic to comment in. If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact a Customer Support Manager at the airport you traveled, or will be traveling through by using Talk to TSA.


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Anonymous said...

Why am I required to take off my shoes? This simple thing is the number one reason I think that the TSA is security theater, not real security.

Anonymous said...

Why are you required to take off your shoes? Because of the "shoe bomber". But, I think that's kind of silly, myself. How is an x-ray machine suppose to find plastic explosives in shoes? There are other ways to test for explosives (perhaps a sensor similar to the "puffer" that works as you walk through the metal detector). But, then again... I think the TSA needs a complete overhaul, if not complete elimination. And, so do most of you that read this blog. Isn't it interesting the the TSA has not bothered to even respond to this blog? They don't care what we - the citizens - think.

Eternal said...

Oh, look, the will of the people ignored, once again.

"When even one American -- who has done nothing wrong -- is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril."
-- Harry S. Truman

"One cannot wage [a] war [on terror] under present conditions without the support of public opinion, which is tremendously molded by the press and other forms of propaganda."
-- General Douglas MacArthur

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
-- Abraham Lincoln

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."
-- Samuel Adams

"The cardinal rule of a closing or closed society is that your alignment with the regime offers no protection; in a true police state no one is safe."
-- Naomi Wolf

Anonymous said...

Well, another small shred of faith in my government has disappeared. The only thing TSA has prevented has been loads of tourists from making their flights when trying to fly home out of the US.

Anonymous said...

I don't seem to remember the "abolish the tsa" section of this petition. As I remember it, the petition I signed called for the replacement of the current passenger screening method with something less invasive. Imagine my surprise when the TSA sends me an email telling me that I tried to have them abolished? I'm pretty glad that the TSA has caught so many bad guys and brainless people that try to bring stupid things on planes. I would be pretty happy if they continued to do so. But current screening methods are making TSA agents into boogeymen.

Anonymous said...

There are two things that have contributed to airline security:
1) The cockpit doors have been reinforced to prevent entry.
2) The response to a hijacking is no longer "Let them fly us safely to where they want to go, and we'll get home eventually.

The latter is arguably the biggest deterrent to terrorists. Terrorists don't prefer planes, they prefer crowded places that don't expect them. Because passengers actively resist terrorists now, commercial flights aren't worth it to them. Consider also that the TSA only enacts new measures in response to methods that have already been tried. This money should be going to predict what will be tried next, whether it's on a plane or in a mall—and I really doubt it will be on a plane.

Unknown said...


Lladro said...

I am not a hater of the TSA. I just think we have traded the feeling of security for true security. We lost 3000 lives in 911. We have lost freedom since and lost an unbelievable amount of time waiting in line for planes.
The public is strange and has a herd mentality. One plane crash and people run from the airline industry. It would be interesting to know what the TSA thinks about true security.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, that petition was WEAK. Someone needs to write a well informed petition that will force the respondent to answer to fact-based questions. Watch them try to wiggle out of it. The original person that started the petition didn't take nearly as much time and effort to really drive home key issues.

Anonymous said...

The cost to the nation of TSA is greater than the cost of airplanes crashing into the ground. The 9/11 hijackings only succeeded the first three of the four times -- Al-Qaeda was not interested in plunging Flight 93 into an empty field. Armored cockpits are sufficient to prevent planes from being used as weapons; excessive resources used for plane screening simply means future terrorists, if not caught in time by intelligence effects, will hit other targets.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that only 31,000 people out of a nation of 400 million can sign a petition. Once a response ( a canned propaganda piece)is given there is no opportunity for others to continue to sign the petition, instead lets talk 'offline' over here on this google blog which is basically just a place for people to complain. Why are the airlines are going bankrupt? Because no one wants to fly anymore with high costs and high amount of hassle with no regard for civil liberties.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to put this in terms my fellow Americans fed up with the TSA can clearly understand. The TSA represents not only a major new government department and thus the perfect fuel for higher federal baseline budgeting, but also a unionized workforce of ~65,000 who will continue to vote for whoever feeds their agency more pork. Only 32,000 signed the petition. In Washington speak, that's 33,000 more votes to be gained by continuing to sell us out in favor of the TSA's union: the AFGE. On top of AFGE's kickback patronage, and the administration's only credible claim to "creating jobs", the TSA represents the perfect storm of patronage from the new security industry, specifically its monetary ties to Rapiscan. Something I invite administrator Pistole to comment on at any time.

If we want change, we've got to get angrier than this. We need to convince everyone we know to stay off the airlines, flood DC with petitions and march on Washington. They won't back down from trying to take our rights unless they are reminded who it is they work for.

Yours truly, a concerned Citizen.

Anonymous said...

How about conducting a national survey or petition to see how many citizens agree with terminating the TSA?

As a parent with a child with disabilities and as a citizen of the US that feels the TSA is essentially worthless, I would definitely add my name to the list of people that believe the TSA needs to be cut from the budget like the cancer it is.

Anonymous said...

I find it troubling the government has refused to respond to the nation's outcry about the TSA's massive and embarassing failure. We deserve better. MUCH better. Think of us the people as a single employer, and think if we asked our employees to work on reforming or shutting down a program because a set of facts has showed it's an epic waste of time and money, and that employee came back and said "no, it's great! And we really need it, you know"

The government is a bad insurance salesman. The TSA is a bad insurance salesman who has stolen our credit cards and gone to vegas to live in a 12 bedroom villa at the bellagio, get drunk on johnnie walker blue, and push people around in the lobby while simultaneously paying off hotel staff to let them stay and when the police come, pointing to some scary guys with guns, standing outside, who will come in and kill you all and rape your wives if you don't let him continue.

The TSA, aside from costing billions in tax revenues, costs us time. About 6.8 Million man hours PER DAY, almost 2.5 BILLION man hours per year. $115,600,000 per day in lost productivity. $42,194,000,000 annually. End the madness.

Daniel Chege said...

TSA job is hard enough, people should stop complaining and start contributing to better solutions rather than rant about it. We all want a safer America for our Kids.

Johnny X said...

flew through LAX last weekend... the TSO touched my testicles not once, not twice, but FOUR times just to make sure i had no explosives in my underwear... the TSA is unconstitutional and a threat to American liberty. Thank you so much for not listening to this petition at all...

Anonymous said...

"In the end, more than they wanted freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all -- security, comfort, and freedom. When ... the freedom they wished for was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free." -Edward Gibbon

Anonymous said...

I think you missed the point of the petition. It is not about JUSTFYING the TSA to citizens but rather citizens (the ones who make up the government and for whom the government is supposed to be for) saying to government and legislators "hey we are not okay with the TSA" we feel it's is broken and not how we want to be protected. That is our right regardless if whether you can justify what the TSA does. Don't want your justification just your change.

Publius said...

Having read TSA Administrator John Pistole's response to last year's petition to abolish the TSA (, I had a few things I was curious about, and was wondering if he (or someone else with the TSA) would explain further:

1. Mr. Pistole wrote that "... 100 percent of passengers flying to, from, and within the United States are prescreened against terrorist watch lists under TSA's Secure Flight program."

However, what if there is an error on one of these watch lists? For instance, what if someone is put on one of these by accident? Can they be taken off? What process would they need to go through to accomplish this? How long would it take? Also, what if some passenger shares the name of someone on one of your watch lists? How would they be taken off?

2. Mr. Pistole indicated that the TSA uses "advanced imaging technology" to scan for potential threats on passengers. However, how well does this actual technology work? For instance, from what I've read, the machines you use for this tend to be rather limited (among other things, they can't pick up objects inside a person).

Put another way, how effective are they at detecting potential threats?

3. As a follow-up on the second question, what studies have been done on the potential long-term health effects of these machines on passengers who pass through them? How would you ensure that using them on people wouldn't potentially increase their risk of cancer or other unknown future health issues (even if it's very slight, if not miniscule)?

Publius said...

In addition to the questions I asked in my previous post, I was curious about a few other things, and was wondering if you would elaborate on them:

1. What steps have you taken to protect airline passengers' civil rights and liberties during security screenings? Put another way, how do you ensure that, by conducting "pat-downs," sending people through full-body scanners, randomly inspecting their luggage, and doing other security procedures, you are not, in some way, violating their fourth, ninth, and fourteenth amendment rights?

2. I have personally experienced two TSA-administered "pat-downs," though, when I asked the agents why, neither of them told me why they were giving them to me. This greatly bothered me.

So, how can an airline passenger find out why they have been selected for one of those?

3. Few Americans like to be touched, especially by someone whom they do not personally know.

This would be especially true of survivors of abuse or assault, be it physical, or sexual, or some other kind. In fact, quite a few of them may see it as important for them to decide who gets to touch their body, and may find it traumatic if some TSA agent touches them without their explicit permission (or even without an explanation of why they are doing that).

Furthermore, they may not wish to tell a TSA agent about their past history of abuse, even if they can merely write it on some piece of paper and show it to a TSA agent (or to their supervisor). It may be important to them to decide whom they tell about their abuse to.

So, given that, how do you ensure that, when doing security screening, you are not inadvertently retraumatizing someone?

4. Although your agency's spokespeople have repeatedly insisted that images that are collected are not stored or transmitted, how do you ensure that this cannot happen? What steps do you have in place to ensure that no image of a person's body is ever stored or otherwise leaked (to the internet, or to some other medium)?

5. From what I have read, the TSA has started to perform security checks in such places as subways, train stations, bus terminals, and trucking weigh stations. Yet, given everything, how does doing that make people safer? Put another way, how effective are those measures when it comes to everyone's security?

6. According to the TSA's website, your mission is to protect "...the Nation’s transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce" ( So, how well do you think you are fulfilling this mission?

7. Finally, what do you think you can do to better protect America's transportation network, while at the same time preserving American citizens' civil liberties?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to reading your response.

Mike H. said...

Anyone else notice how the TSA response just keeps reinforcing security and yet does not state anything about personal or social liberties? I guess the government forgot that their main reason for creation was the protection of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. TSA and the government is blindsided by the latter and ignores the formers.

Mike H. said...

Anyone else notice how the TSA response just keeps reinforcing security and yet does not state anything about personal or social liberties? I guess the government forgot that their main reason for creation was the protection of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. TSA and the government is blindsided by the latter and ignores the formers.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I don't have time to read all the comments to see if anyone has mentioned this yet, but almost all the links in this "response" link to 404 pages. The link for "Advanced Technology X-ray" directs you to a press release from 2007 regarding Pan Am Flight 103. Between that and the complete failure to address any of the topics brought forth in the petition, it's pretty evident how little thought was put into this (likely canned) response.

Ellis Steinbeck said...

Mr. Burns...

You need to address the requests to have passengers understand their explicit rights during an enhanced pat down. It is only appropriate for passengers to understand where TSA authority ends and personal rights begin, especially in the sensitive matter of intimate touching. Certainly nothing can be a more fundamental right. Knowing what the SOP for enhanced pat down...what touching is allowed and where...would greatly diminish the complaints even if it complicated your work a little. TSA regs state that a passenger has the right to know exactly where they will be touched before the search begins. Doesn't that imply a certain measure of personal authority in regards to searches? This is my fourth request about enhanced pat down SOP. I will continue to publish your lack of response.

Anonymous said...

I'll likely get in trouble for saying this but we didn't even need to step up security because the supposed hijackers if you go with the official 9/11 story all had 100% legit boarding passes.

Therefore preventing people from the concourse was a totally wasted effort but most people were focusing on "The Boogeyman" at the time so did not even think once to protest.

Anonymous said...


Uncle Jack said...

I think TSA is one of the greatest joys of my life...really!

Every time I fly I make a game of them. I try to hold up the line as long as possible..use up several bins, and (this is kinda gross) wear really smelly shoes so that it stinks up the entire area.

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