TSA Lockout: Can't Anyone Think Anymore?

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I was stumbling through the Web the other day and came across some video that nicely summarized what anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows: Lou Dobbs is a paranoid lunatic. But even lunatics have moments of lucidity, and so does Dobbs. He was talking about the rising anger in the U.S. concerning the erosion of rights and government intrusion and lack of responsiveness. Jon Stewart, who was doing the interviewing on his Daily Show, essentially (and effortlessly) shredded Dobbs' arguments with a few key facts, but Dobbs' point about unfocused populist anger is correct. He just doesn't do much to put a finger on it--the argument is all heat, no light.

I can offer one small example from the world of aviation. On Friday, we reported on a TSA decision to lock out a group of hangar owners from having access to the Punta Gorda airport here in Florida. The owners are in a hangar condo configuration on private land adjacent to the airport and they arranged a through-the-fence deal to gain access to the runway using radio controlled gate openers they carry in the airplane. Simple, effective, cheap. But TSA didn't like it and shut it down, requiring a lineman from the FBO to let them in, if a lineman is indeed available. These are the same linemen who have minimal security screening, if they have any at all.

Now, is this the kind of fundamental erosion of rights that Dobbs and the tea party street people are talking about? Not really, because it isn't an erosion of basic rights. There's general agreement that access to airports is not a freedom-of-the-commons right, but a controlled privilege. Some kind of security is a necessity, even if it just keeps the animals off the runway.

What it does represent is the kind of pointless government interference that accomplishes nothing other than irritating the citizenry. It further infuriates because it's an example of a government agency or a highly-paid government official or two making a decision that defies common sense. And none of us can stomach utterly stupid behavior, even if it doesn't affect us directly.

But there's another issue: lack of balance. It's not just about blind fear of terrorism attacks against aviation, but also the need to keep our airports alive and thriving. Those pilots at Punta Gorda pay the airport for their access, they buy gas and services. Measure that against the microscopically small probability that this gate will be the weak link that allows terrorism another opportunity.

A bunch of pilots being locked out of an airport is not the moral equivalent of the French Revolution. This is not the ragged leading edge of the unraveling of western civilization. But when people like Lou Dobbs beat the drum of wild-eyed populist rage and the spittle flies, it's incidents like this that come to mind.

I suspect the pilots and the airport administration at Punta Gorda will work something out with the TSA and things will go forward. But they shouldn't have to. Our government and—more important—the people who work in our government should do better by us. They should just be smarter, that's all. As citizens, we should insist that federal agencies stop using fear mongering as a primary tool of governance.

The continuing—and maybe inevitable—alternative is the sort of diffuse anger that fuels people to scream about getting their country back. After all, even lunatics are right once in awhile.

Comments (84)

After 9/11, most pushed their leaders for the Patriot Act, and were hungry for a strong security apparatus, pretty much across party and state boundaries. DHS/TSA employees need to do something -anything- to justify their budget. America now reaps what was then collectively sowed. Don't blame the TSA for doing what they were asked to do. Blame yourself for being part of the 'fear-mongerers' at the time (or at least not stopping your congressman from going overboard). And as a result, don't fight every single silly measure taken by the TSA on a case by case basis, but demand a dismantling of the whole DHS/TSA setup. That should fix the DC ADIZ, the secret blacklists without legal recourse, airport access, silly license revocations etc.

Posted by: Peter De Ceulaer | December 7, 2009 4:10 AM    Report this comment

The idiocy of unknowing bureaucrats making decisions which adversely affect millions of innocent people, ignoring the potentially guilty people -- illegal aliens (P.C. Violation: undocumented immigrants), while costing those same innocent millions BILLIONS of dollars is far beyond just being out-of-control. Now, if someone complains about the inexperienced people now in the administration, including its "leader", the FBI/Secret Service/etc. come knocking at ones door. How many hundred-thousand barely literate people have been hired, at our expense, to control US, while claiming to be protecting us? The T-baggers have it right. We must regain control of our country or we will no longer have a country.

Posted by: Charles Svoboda | December 7, 2009 7:36 AM    Report this comment

It's pretty simple the pilot that didn't wait for the gate to close ruined a good thing for all the others. As pilots we are part of the very few people that have access to the other side of the fence. We have responsibilities to ourselves and others to take those responsibilities seriously. Even though we all feel our liberties are being eroded I'm not sure we can blame the TSA in this situation. I haven't read anything that condemns the person responsible for what could be considered a security breach.

Posted by: Brian Bailey | December 7, 2009 7:39 AM    Report this comment

I really feel for those Punta Gorda pilots - yes, the FAA (and now the TSA) are completely out of control (they were out of touch years ago). You are right - pointless harassment of pilots accomplishes nothing! As an airline pilot - I deal with their mentality on a daily basis. They are now the largest single employer at many major airports. Imagine the irritation we feel while standing 10 deep in the crew line (behind 8 non-crewmembers), and doing a headcount to find about 15 of those types standing around doing absolutely nothing. No opening up another line and using some of the other machines the taxpayers paid for is not an option. In Chicago, they would actually park a team outside of the elevator to operations and harass pilots and flight attendants who are guilty of nothing more than simply trying to go to work. TSA - another bloated government bureaucracy desperately trying to justify their existence and extend their overreaching tentacles.

Posted by: Mike McCann | December 7, 2009 7:47 AM    Report this comment

"As citizens, we should insist that federal agencies stop using fear mongering as a primary tool of governance."

Many of us have been complaining to our congressmen about out of control government agencies capriciously ruling by fear (like the EPA just today ruling that CO2 is a pollutant - good grief). I suspect that many brave citizens in 1939 Germany complained about overstepping government too. At least we're not being into labor camps for complaining...yet.

Posted by: Douglas Abbott | December 7, 2009 7:49 AM    Report this comment

What's next. Will TSA be shutting down private airports because they represent a risk. When will the government start limiting the use of Hiways because of the risk od a car bomb?

Surely there has never been a large vehicle or large airplane used as a terrorist tool. I'm sure TSA would restrict them if that were the case.

What is wrong with these idiots?

Posted by: James Stack | December 7, 2009 8:09 AM    Report this comment

Don't expect common sense to prevail anywhere within the TSA anytime soon. The methods used to accomplish their "mission" such as searching 85 year old grandmothers and 20 something mothers with 3 little ones in tow should give you a good idea of how much common sense these robots (aka TSA agents) have, notwithstanding the other mindless procedures they subject all air travelers to. I agree with previous comments - to re-evaluate all their procedures and policies, dismantle the entire army that snoop through private citizens' personal belongings in the name of "national security". Their presence in disproportionate numbers is an affront to me and many others that must endure all the nonsense that they choose to inflict upon us under their paranoid and reactionary "national security" mission umbrella. Very few of their current policies or procedures can be justified, based on any criteria you wish to use. As a licensed pilot, former military aviator and officer and private citizen I am ready to do battle with them and work toward a common sense, well devised approach to protect our air travel system more than harassing our private citizens. Sooner or later political correctness will have to take a back seat to profiling if we are ever going to defeat and contain terrorists (isn't that our goal?) Our national leadership seems to have adopted the management style of a 60 year old popular group that some may remember: "Curley, Moe, and Larry"

Posted by: Terry Dwyer | December 7, 2009 8:39 AM    Report this comment

While I agree with the premise of this article, I would ask the author to please refrain from using the term "teabagger". This is a perjorative term which refers to a certain homosexual practice, and it is used by the leftists in government and media to denigrate anyone even loosely affiliated with the so-called Tea Party movement. While I have not been to any tea party event, from what I have seen it is composed of ordinary Americans from all walks of life and all political persuasions, most of whom heve never been to a protest before or ever taken part in a political event. Like me, they are justifiably frustrated and righteously angry about our unaccountable ruling class in Washington that is willfully ignoring the clear will of the people and instead enacting their own agenda. So do not refer to these people as "street people" or as "teabaggers" because these people are ordinary, decent Americans, and they have the right to express their opinions without being denigrated and called names for doing so.

Posted by: George True | December 7, 2009 8:43 AM    Report this comment

I second the comments of George True above. The growing sentiment around the country shows definite declining support for the elected elites in Washington, and there will be more Tea Party events in the future - by ordinary mainstream Americans - not "community activists" being paid to protest the current "inhumanity du jour" - that want to recover the erosion of our liberties such as we've experienced in the simple process of traveling through any airport in the country.

Posted by: Terry Dwyer | December 7, 2009 8:54 AM    Report this comment

Re. James Stack's remarks: Those of us who live on small community airstrips out in the boonies have a real concern about the possible security restrictions TSA might decide to capriciously impose. We have about 12 rental hangars and 12 families (mostly retired fixed-income types, one small maintenance shop, and one fellow who just lost his job as a production test pilot at Cessna) on our 3,000 ft strip. If TSA decided, for instance, that we had to fence it all in, we'd be in deep doo doo. No way could we afford the two miles of chain link and secure gates that would be required. Such a dictum would immediately trash the value of our property, and we'd likely have to close the strip. Seems to me if TSA is going to arbitrate security measures on the homes of the private flying community, they should have to do an impact assessment and pay for the costs their decision incurs. Otherwise it's the worst form of unfunded mandate, denying the private citizen due process or recourse.

Posted by: warford johnson 11 | December 7, 2009 8:54 AM    Report this comment

Unless I'm misreading the article, the hanger area adjacent to the airport is also a secure area, requiring a security pass for access. This means the pilots are going from one secure area to another, not from an unsecured area to a secure one. The sudden requirement to have a non-TSA employee "guard" against illegal access is entirely bogus, as the pilots in question have already provided the required security pass just to have made it to the hangers within which the planes are parked. Double checking at the gate to the runway is an unnecessary impediment, besides which, the person performing this double check is not an employee of any legal agency tasked with the TSA's duties.

Posted by: Fritz Stout | December 7, 2009 8:55 AM    Report this comment

Well, folks, I do believe there is a global war going on between us and the Islamic terrorists. It is clearly global because of airplanes. As with past world wars, some limitation on "normal" personal freedoms is necessary. That being said, I do believe it is not too much to ask of our tax-payer funded civil servants for them to develop and use "common sense." Surely it must now be understood by even the dullest knife in the drawer that light general aviation aircraft can not contain enough energy to do more than break a few windows (C-172 example of a few years ago) AND that aircraft based in a live-in, fly-in community are in one of the best "neighborhood watch" communities available. If "diversity training" is required of civil servants, "common sense" training should be also.

Posted by: Bill Castlen | December 7, 2009 8:58 AM    Report this comment

For what it's worth the nonsensical security OTT behaviour is also being applied in Europe. Our local airfield in Co. Kerry, Ireland is about as desirable for terrorists as the moon is yet we need police vetting & security passes to go airside and we and our bags must pass through security scanners to go fly our own aircraft. It's madhouse stuff imposed by our national aviation authority.

Posted by: James McErlain | December 7, 2009 9:06 AM    Report this comment

The TSA is not really supposed to combat terrorism, in any cost-effective way. (And, contrary to popular mantra, "If it saves one life," it ISN't necessarily worth it. If that were all there is to it, we wouldn't be allowed to drive at all... or to fly.) The TSA's mission is a small part of any established-government's mission: to grab every opportunity to expand ruling class power over the ruled class. So, stop complaining -- they're doing a fine job.

Lou Dobbs aside (since he is neither the first nor the most-important to mention it), it is indeed true that the American people are starting to see through the diaphanous clothing worn by our rulers. (That is, assuming they're really wearing any clothing at all; it's hard to see clearly, since we're kept at such a distance from them and we have to squint through all their smoke.)

It's about power, nothing else. In that context (alone), the TSA makes perfect sense.

Posted by: Tim Kern | December 7, 2009 9:14 AM    Report this comment

Gee Karl, by your ad hominem attack you just made on me you sound just like the people who attack anyone attending a tea party event. Like you, I am a pilot, I work hard and pay my taxes, and I take a dim view of our out-of-control federal government spending trillions of dollars they don't have, and will need to steal from all of us, just so they can "remake" America. So if that makes me an idiot, so be it. And no,the Tea Party activists most assuredly DO NOT call themselves teabaggers. It is only those who wish to smear them who call them that.

Posted by: George True | December 7, 2009 9:16 AM    Report this comment

Just a reminder everyone: I removed a message in which one commenter was calling another a pejorative name. Please refrain from personal attacks on people who aren't public figures.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 7, 2009 9:18 AM    Report this comment

The initial and lone problem was the the failure of the aircraft owner to WAIT for the gate to close, PERIOD ! The pilot, if the IQ was above shoe size knew the rule. Though I believe most of TSA are under achievers just doing their jobs ... the reaction was simply an ego driven decision. The pilot made the first mistake ..... then the stupidity snowballed!

At SNA in So CA, the new flight students would rightfully be talked to if spotted NOT waiting for gates to close behind them .... long before 9/11.
Simple rule.

Posted by: Jim Vroom | December 7, 2009 9:23 AM    Report this comment

911 was as much fraud as fact. This is more window dressing for the charade. Neo-Capitalism gone completely out of control. "Give them fear and sell them protection".

Posted by: mike castillo | December 7, 2009 9:25 AM    Report this comment

Interesting, the FAA opposition to "through the fence" agreements lists safety and security usually at the bottom of the priority. Since the FAA and TSA have signed off on the AOPA's Airport Watch program, someone must know that having people live near the airport increase public surveillance and thus, security. This issue is beyond rationality.
Please sign up for Email updates on the TTF issue at www.throughthefence.org.

Posted by: Brent Blue | December 7, 2009 9:35 AM    Report this comment

This ridiculous action doesn't surprise me. Our small turf airport which is home for a few Cubs, Champs, etc. is bookmarked for a security fence and video cameras. Those antique tail draggers would be a serious security threat... to a grass hut.

Posted by: Rick Martin | December 7, 2009 9:44 AM    Report this comment

So many good comments here, but are we not preaching to the choir? We ALL know how stupid TSA is in the aviation world. Why not submit some of these well thought comments to editors of local newspapers?

Posted by: kt jarrett | December 7, 2009 9:50 AM    Report this comment

I find I often agree with your editorial comments. Again, I agree with your basic point. The TSA (and most of the rest of our government) is out of control.
Dobbs' problem is that he became politicallly incorrect by attacking the real sources of some of our problems, i.e. the Congress, and some particular ethnic groups who are given immunity to criticism by those who use them to perpetuate their "constituency".

Isn't it a little disingenuous to remove a perceived "ad hominem attack" against Mr. True, (whom I completely agree with), but then make just such attacks on others? You say that Lou Dobbs has a point. But you still call him a "pejorative name". And then attack the very people who are trying, through peaceful dissent (supposedly to be the highest form of Patriotism during the last administration) to stop the freight train of government intrusion into our lives. Calling Lou Dobbs a "paranoid lunatic", and using the marginalizing tactic of making fun of the REAL patriots trying to take the country back is not what we've come to expect from AVweb, and not what we come here to read.
As your own Commenting Rules just to my right say:
"Please keep it civil. Save the name-calling and insults for private e-mail or newsgroups."

Hear, Hear.
Ron Cox (One who agrees completely with most of the Tea-Party "street people" you disparage so glibly and immaturely.)

Posted by: Ronald Cox | December 7, 2009 10:06 AM    Report this comment

Shortly after the TSA was created, a friend of mine was hired by a firm that was conducting the initial interviews of the throngs of people who were applying for the many thousands of new job openings with the TSA. After just a month or so, my friend quit in disgust. He told me that the great majority of the people he interviewed were uneducated, ill-mannered, and in his words "as dumb as a box of rocks". And yet the TSA was hiring these people en masse as screeners, supervisors, and managers. I do not wish to slander an entire group of people, and in truth I have encountered at least some TSA screeners this year who seemed very pleasant and courteous. Perhaps TSA is working to reform its image with the public. But even so,many of the policies dictated by the bureaucrats in charge of Homeland Security and TSA seem ill-advised and counterproductive to me. The issue highlighted in this article is just one such example out of many that I have seen and heard about. And in the name of "security" TSA has already made GA airports off-limits to the general public. The long-term damage that does to GA cannot be calculated. It flies in the face of reason and common sense. Will anyone be able to hold them accountable?

Posted by: George True | December 7, 2009 10:20 AM    Report this comment

The only requirements for TSA hires seem to be (1) No common sense and (2) A desire to impose their will on others.

I have encountered surly and racist TSA agents at Love Field in Dallas and incompetents in many large airports. They seem to be only reactive to things that have happened and are not proactive to look into the future (I guess that is the "no common sense" thing again).

I keep my airplane at a privately-owned airport with over 500 aircraft based there. Our Champs, Cubs and Stearmans are not national security threats, yet I am afraid of our TSA and our government officials who will inevitably want to "secure" our airport or shut it down.

Posted by: Steve Fremgen | December 7, 2009 10:51 AM    Report this comment

Lots of good comments on this one. As a pilot, aircraft owner, small business owner, I agree with the insanity of TSA and frankly out of control government. One size fits all seldom works in fashion and government. Unaccountable bureaucrats with power are very dangerous to all those who value freedom. I also take exception to Paul's comments about Dobbs and those who attend tea parties. My wife and I have never participated in a protest, until last month and it was a tea party. The people there were from every walk of life, with a few zealots and a vast majority of ordinary fed up citizens. I even found out my banker was there. All present were well behaved, non violent, despite a high level of anger at government.
The point is, in this case, one person violated one procedure, not waiting for a gate to close. OK, oops, bad form, no excuse. But the extreme reaction to restrict access to the airport is typical bureaucrat over reaction and abuse of power. This looks more like a case of running a stop sign than endangering national security.
The real risk is time and money wasted on this and bigger real threats ignored. But thats what government does- they reward activity, not results.

Posted by: Fred Ashman | December 7, 2009 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Just how ridiculous this whole thing is can be illustrated by what I observe at my home airport (which will remain nameless). It's located in the desert a few miles from the small town it serves. They have two large rolling gates at different points which have to be activated by a four-digit code to allow entry. The fence around the airport? A four-strand barbed wire job which I could almost step over without pushing down on the top strand. If I wanted to drive a vehicle through it, a pair of wire cutters would take care of it in a few seconds. It takes about 15 seconds for the gate to roll open, and another 15 for it to close. I have never seen anybody wait for it to close before driving away. However, I guess we are secure, as I have not seen any cows on the runway in the years I've been using it.

Posted by: DAVID ROBBINS | December 7, 2009 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Mr. True: Teabagging is not the exclusive domain of homosexuals as you incorrectly claimed and your sidelong reference to 'leftists' shows your bias. I merely replied in kind. I do realize that a prepondance of pilots are conservatives, and they often work against their own best interests to maintain the appearance of virtue. It is mostly hypocrisy and the teabaggers aren't even close to representative of Americans as a whole...most of them are poorly educated racists. A big chunk of them are the kind of nutbags who think Obama (who is far from my favorite person) is a Muslim or a foreign-born something-or-other. All of which does not mean I support the meatheads in the TSA or indeed most of the federal government. To infer that I do is a logical fallacy.

Posted by: Karl Schneider | December 7, 2009 11:44 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I completely agree that Fed Gov should stop using fear mongering as a primary tool of governance. But that is what ALL governments throughout history have done. That and use force. It is government nature. That is why a Fed Gov limited by the US Constitution is desirable. However US citizens have allowed that document to be shredded. You don't find the terms "teabagger street people", "wild eyed populist anger", "the spittle flies" and "lunatics" pejorative? I do and I disagree that a public figure is fair game for that. T.axed E.nough A.lready. The anger is focused on intrusive big government, out of control government spending and high taxes. Quoting Hillary Clinton: "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism."

Posted by: Steve Hooley | December 7, 2009 11:48 AM    Report this comment

TSA=The new "brown shirts" observe their numbers increasing exponentially, observe them walking through air terminals in pairs and in force, having their way with the very people that are paying their salary.

Posted by: DAVID AKEL | December 7, 2009 11:48 AM    Report this comment

As soon as Berto used the "Tea Bagger" label, he lost the moral position to comment or limit the nature of debate. That is one of the most pejorative, disgusting characterizations of a group of people excercising there right to dissent. Exactly the intent of Berto's article above.

Users of that term are by default, placed in the same unthinking, shallow realm of Olbermann and Moore, where the smart assed comeback is somehow superior to factual reasoning and a reverence for truth. No one with any intellectual curiosity has reason to listen, resulting in a low probability of return to credibility once someone chooses to go there.

Posted by: Max Buffet | December 7, 2009 12:04 PM    Report this comment

I attended the winter Olympics briefing for TFR that reaches across the boarder into Washington state.

Thankfully it only mildly affects one of the airports that I use that is close to the 30 mile radius that it encompasses.

Here’s the kicker if you are flying a private aircraft into the TFR you have to go though the normal expected reservation slot, but you also have land at a gateway airport and run your baggage though normal airline security, so guess what?

Yep the 3oz rule for liquids is in effect if the passengers can access the baggage in flight!

And if you have a fast airplane, they suggest you be talking to someone well outside of the TFR.

Posted by: CRYSTAL PT INC | December 7, 2009 12:14 PM    Report this comment

Mr Schneider: Thank you for expressing your opinion in a civil way. Now we can have a productive exchange of viewpoints. We are a bit off-topic (sorry, Mr Bertorelli), but I would like to respectfully address several of your points. First, it IS largely those on the left who disparage the tea party movement. It certainly isn't the conservatives or the libertarians. Second, how do you know the tea party activists are not representative of America? Did you conduct a survey or something? From every newes report I have seen, the participants appear to be from every walk of life, every age group, and every socio-economic group. And finally, how do you know they are poorly educated or racist? Again, from what I have been able to glean, the educational level runs the gamut from high school grads to PhD's. Finally, what does grassroots political action against a fiscally irresponsible government have to do with, of all things...racism??? By the same logic, you might as well say that we who are upset over TSA policies run amok are also racists....It makes about as much sense.

Posted by: George True | December 7, 2009 12:27 PM    Report this comment

Fair enough. Tea baggers changed to tea party. But Dobbs is still a public figure and still a lunatic. But no one who contributes to this forum is, unless Dobbs rings in, in which case he can defend himself.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 7, 2009 12:29 PM    Report this comment

Fred, from being North of the border in Vancouver I can tell you the Olympics are a complete waste of time. The security restrictions have closed down a couple of airports in Vancouver for two months including one of the busiest training airports in the country (Boundary Bay). Many schools and businesses will be going out of business because of this. Where did the Canadian Gov't come up with the draconian security procedures for this? Well...they turned to the TSA of Course, since pressure was applied from our Southern Neigbours due to our slack security procedures at Canadian Airports. I guess fences, locks and security codes to gain access are just not enough for some people.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | December 7, 2009 1:28 PM    Report this comment

"Users of that term are by default, placed in the same unthinking, shallow realm of ..."

That's some first-class irony, Harry. Thanks, you gave me a good laugh on a long Monday afternoon.

Then, to continue with "where the smart assed comeback is somehow superior to factual reasoning and a reverence for truth..." implying that teabaggers, er Tea Partiers, er, whatever, have somehow gained notoriety through reasoning and reverence for truth! Why, that's just comedy gold!

Harry, no doubt you went to different town hall meetings than I did this summer. I didn't see a whole lot of reasoned argument from your buddies at the ones I attended. Must suck for you to (probably) have reasoned arguments and a real respect for the truth and have that preempted by the behavior of the vast majority of your compatriots. Ah well, lying dogs with fleas and all that rot.

Back to reality, if you want TSA to change, maybe you should visit your representative at their next townhall meeting. Oh wait...

Posted by: Jeffrey Boatright | December 7, 2009 1:32 PM    Report this comment

BTW, as an ex-cop and ex-military intel officer I simply can't see the reason for all this paranoia about GA and light airplanes. If I was a terrorist it would seem to me that a UHAUL truck and some readily available material from a farm supply and hardware store were a far easier and more effective way of doing some damage. Where is the TSA on this, surely they should be fingerprinting renters of UHAULs and checking to see how much liquid they are carrying, what about security at these UHAUL Storage areas and around trucks. Seems to me trucks are 'Transport', maybe you yanks should try to refocus the TSA on other more probable, more potentialy lethal and more easily accessable threats than pilots of small aircraft.... ;)

Posted by: Trevor Evans | December 7, 2009 1:38 PM    Report this comment

You could not have made my point any better! I rest my case, Jeff.

Posted by: Max Buffet | December 7, 2009 2:02 PM    Report this comment

Thanks! Your condescension could not have made my point any better. I rest my case, Jeff.

Posted by: Max Buffet | December 7, 2009 2:05 PM    Report this comment

The important thing to remember here is security has not be the issue when through the fence agreements have been threatened. It is a control issue by the FAA.

Posted by: Brent Blue | December 7, 2009 2:09 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Bertorelli...if you think Lou Dobbs (pilot) is a "paranoid lunatic", but Jon Stewart is the consummate journalist, you've spent too much time in the flight levels with no oxygen.

Posted by: GM Lane | December 7, 2009 2:22 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Bertorelli...if you think Lou Dobbs (pilot) is a "paranoid lunatic", but Jon Stewart is the consummate journalist, you've spent too much time in the flight levels with no oxygen.

Posted by: GM Lane | December 7, 2009 2:24 PM    Report this comment

Mr. Bertorelli...if you think Lou Dobbs (pilot) is a "paranoid lunatic", but Jon Stewart is the consummate journalist, you've spent too much time in the flight levels with no oxygen.

Posted by: GM Lane | December 7, 2009 2:25 PM    Report this comment

...sorry for the multi-posts! gml

Posted by: GM Lane | December 7, 2009 2:29 PM    Report this comment

It's interesting to see which side of the "debate" has resorted to the use of supposedly objectionable "pejorative" labels.

The contrast with the relatively civil tone and reasoned comments of the "other" side indicates how we got into this predicament in the first place. The lack of substance is pervasive in our government and the society as a whole these days.

Let's see: "teabaggers", "poorly educated racists", "nutbags", "meatheads"... "To infer that I do is a logical fallacy."

Were it not for this evidence of the same lack of reason, (and civility) no one would ever infer so...

But with your response, as Harry A. so ably stated, you and Jeff made his point better than even he could have done.

We all need to remember who the "enemy" is, and it ain't us... (Sorry, Pogo.)

Posted by: Ronald Cox | December 7, 2009 3:10 PM    Report this comment

As shown in these posts with misunderstandings and misreadings of descriptive words used, there's nothing more uncommon than demonstrable common sense and understanding. And we want the government to lead the way on this, particularly the lower ends like the TSA? Take responsibility at the airports for our use of them and quit whining about the big bad gov't. Where were all you whiners while this government was being established This Way over the past years?

Like Paul said this isn't the 'unraveling of western civilization.'
I don't care how something is phrased or stated, it's up to me to decide if what was said rings true or not. The 'Stupid Motorist law' we have here in our state for thoughtless, moron drivers is perfectly named - get over it, as the Eagles sang awhile back. We sound like a bunch of spoiled kids at recess.

Posted by: David Miller | December 7, 2009 3:28 PM    Report this comment


One of my points was that, ironically, Harry was doing exactly what he was criticizing others for doing. Just seemed funny to me. Heck, anyone who identifies himself as a tea partier and then decries the lack of civility in any particular discourse is a master of irony and/or just not very self-aware.

More generally, people who self-identify as tea partiers have lost legitimacy, and they've lost it for the very good reason that an awful lot of them made up a bunch of stuff that was demonstrably false and then presented it as offensively as possible. Short term gain, long term epic fail, especially for those otherwise uninvolved conservatives who get painted with the broad brush meant to be applied to tea partiers. We are judged on our previous actions, and sadly, sometimes by the actions of those we identify with.

The TTF ship has been heading in this direction for a long time. FAA has wanted to suppress TTFs since at least 1982, but more recently it's come to a head by the publishing of the 691 (!) page FAA Airport Compliance Manual. Now with TSA getting on board, it is going to be even more difficult to steer the Titanic clear of the iceberg. Because it's political, even though I may agree with some who identify themselves as tea partiers, I wish we weren't on the same team. I'm not saying they're the enemy, as you suggest, but I am saying that self-identifying as a tea partier makes one a liability for reasons noted above.


Posted by: Jeffrey Boatright | December 7, 2009 5:19 PM    Report this comment

Again, Jeff makes my point by assuming, then attacking personally with snide accusations and vacuous assumptions.

At no time did I mention my political views in any manner. No one here knows what my views. My point was directed at the use of the disgusting term that is shouldn't be used if the writer is to be taken seriously on the merits of his logic. Paul evidently agrees to some extent as he retracted the use of the term in question. All it did was derail his original premise, with which I agree with respect to TSA overreaching and accomplishing little in the process.

Paul is quite capable of making his points without being nasty or condescending. Unlike Olbermann, Savage and the rest of the intellectual lightweights out there pretending to be serious players.

Posted by: Max Buffet | December 7, 2009 7:11 PM    Report this comment

I guess that some problems come without solutions. I can see no way to take our country back, as our rights as citizens erode and more and more of our day-to-day activities become controlled by government. A six year old child is suspended from school for kissing a classmate (a form of greeting); a pilot wanders too close to a stadium during a ballgame, while flying through an area he is not familiar with and is answerable to the FAA; a mother carrying a six month old child must relinquish jars of babyfood to the TSA because she has "too many," despite the fact that planes can be delayed and there may be no other source of food available for the child; etc, etc. The problem is not that the TSA has power over the citizens, but that the people employed by TSA (and many other government agencies) do not have the ability to utilize discretion, and blindly revert to following a rule book that can never cover all contingencies. Government will continue to grow and swallow us whole unless we can force it to become answerable to "we the people" and responsive and reasonable in its actions. Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen.

Posted by: NORMAN BEST | December 7, 2009 7:41 PM    Report this comment

edited to fit
Isn’t it nice to be able to drive anywhere you want to, whenever you want to? Isn’t this one of the freedoms we have come to expect here in the US? Sure, you need to be responsible, possess a license, and be physically able. But you can do it without the government watching to see who you are with, where you are going, and when you plan to be there. But if the rules being imposed in the United States take their full course, folks with boats wanting to go out on the river and folks wanting to go somewhere in their cars will have something entirely new to deal with – restrictions on their freedom to travel.

Yes, as it stands right now regulations are in place that severely limit the ability of US citizens to travel freely around the country by personal aircraft. Efforts to enforce ID requirements are being imposed on airfields, passenger manifests are being scrutinized, and entire blocks of airspace are being deemed off limits to these special citizens. Is this the way we want to live in the USA? Did our forefathers die for these restrictions on our freedom? I don’t think so…

Imposing blanket restrictions does not solve the basic bureaucratic problems that exist in our government, nor does it add any safety to our citizens. When we allow our freedoms to be compromised in the name of safety then we will have lost some of the inalienable rights that this country is based on. We must not let the sacrifices of those that have gone before us be for nothing.

Posted by: Dan DeVillers | December 7, 2009 8:06 PM    Report this comment

Is it just me, or is it ironic that most of the posts in this blog have been sent Dec 7, 2009. Those guys in Hawaii died for a free America.

Posted by: Dan DeVillers | December 7, 2009 8:09 PM    Report this comment

The TSA is another government agency with many "little fish" that think they're going to be "big fish" if they do a what they consider a good job. And maybe like the FAA, they work on a points system- to get promoted you have to write xx violations per month/year.
The real bottom line is the TSA wants to have 100% control over any and all forms of transportation- if a TSA person sees Joe Mechanic on the ramp, walks up and asks him a question, dosen't like the answer, the TSA knucklehead can revoke/suspend Joe's licenses on the spot. Same for pilots- TSA asks a question, doesn't like the answer, tickets are gone.

Same bunch of clowns that won't allow a 10 inch replica Hockey stick (it's a WEAPON!!!) but still allow a tennis racket on a commercial flight.

Posted by: Tim Tyson | December 7, 2009 8:10 PM    Report this comment

Someone show me anywhere the FAA, DHS, or TSA has ever increased safety or security.

Posted by: Duane Hallman | December 7, 2009 8:35 PM    Report this comment

Maybe I am coming in on this too late, and I don’t understand what juts happened. Being an airline pilot, its been a long time since I have visited a small GA airport. However, I have endured the TSA’s long list of hoops to jump through at the biggies. I’ve heard some rumblings of securing GA airports, but I thought it was for larger FBOs at commercial airports.

So let me see if I have this right. A small airport in Florida, with some adjacent property owners / pilots, now have to have “someone” open a gate for them, that they previously could open themselves? Additionally, the adjacent property is fenced, and connected to the airport?

Posted by: Howard Dennis | December 7, 2009 9:15 PM    Report this comment

I just went and looked at this on Google Earth. (BTW, the terrorist have access to GE as well). It appears that the airport is surrounded by some type of fence. It didn’t appear that the fence was of “maximum security prison” quality. It appeared to be some chain link fence with barbed wire in places, apparently designed to keep animals from reaching the runway!

I didn’t read the rule of the TTF agreement, but whomever put up the fence should guard the gate. Since when is it the pilot’s responsibility to wait for the gate? If I go through a door at the airport, I don’t wait for it to close! So, I have to turn my airplane around to see behind me? I don’t get it.

Posted by: Howard Dennis | December 7, 2009 9:16 PM    Report this comment

If the TSA wants it secure, then they should hire a guard, 24/7/365 and put them in a little building, additionally requiring them to walk the fence line and clock their travel just like a night security guard. What good does a line guy do to open and close the gate? Meanwhile, like most small airports I used to fly from, the neighborhood kids slip under the fence and steal the runway light glass jugs when no one is looking. BECAUSE the fence is designed to keep animals out, not teenagers or terrorist!!! 

I’m so sorry that is has come to this. If you really want the airport secure, do like they did in SLC during the 2002 Olympics. Put about 100 military personnel with loaded weapons stationed around the facility. Then, we are secure.

GA won’t survive this. X raying your own baggage,,, badges for all,,, and no airplane watching for the locals?? Where will our students come from?

I am really disappointed. Where is the AOPA with all of this. It appears that they are concerned about Wind Mills, and making it easier to kill yourself with laxed training. I recently read they are lobbying to get the regs laxed again?

Sorry to vent, but I am just beside myself on what I just read. WE are THEM. I though we had voices!!!

Posted by: Howard Dennis | December 7, 2009 9:16 PM    Report this comment

Howard, we do have a voice. Unfortunatly, TSA has yet to listen. OR even simply apply just a tiny bit of common sense.

Posted by: Tim Tyson | December 7, 2009 9:23 PM    Report this comment

The classic incident illustrating what is wrong with the entire TSA mindset was the TAT probes being damaged by an agent. That TSA employee was climbing on aircraft to check to see if airlines were securing their aircraft. Instead of tasking airlines that don't have the resources of the US Government with security, TSA should be guarding those aircraft, patrolling perimeters, fuel farms and communications centers, including ATC facilities. Reduce screening, hire effective people with the skills to provide a real deterrent.

Posted by: Max Buffet | December 7, 2009 9:32 PM    Report this comment

I'll go back to what I said originally, what have I been paying APOA the past 30 years for? I’ve looked around their website, and all I see is where they are trying to get the rules changes for flight training, having Cell Phone towers torn down, and Wind Mills banished. I did see a little effort back a few months ago, but this should be on the top of their list. If this kind of action can’t be rectified, then there will be no pilots to support AOPA.

I have taken the time to write some friends of mine in the political arena, and the media. One, to my amazement, seemed a bit interested, and promised to look into it, but from what I have heard through the grapevine, no one wants their name mentioned in front of the TSA in fear of being labeled “Trouble Maker” But again, I though this is what we paid our dues to the AOPA for.

I’m all for security. There’s more out there that we should be afraid of than terrorist. But there has to be some common sense involved.

Posted by: Howard Dennis | December 8, 2009 1:07 AM    Report this comment

This editorial makes too much sense to have been written these days. Keep em coming Paul!

Posted by: Steven Sacco | December 8, 2009 2:29 AM    Report this comment

Paul, I cannot imagine the TSA has any GA pilots on staff in policy making or policy reviewing. It's like they have the same types of sheep dog following bureaucrats that are in so many of our government agencies with no vision of the scope of what they do and whom they affect. I would think that any who really understood what is of import in the GA community would provide constructive input. The Punta Gorda pilots plight would be a good start.



Posted by: John Willingham | December 8, 2009 3:54 AM    Report this comment

I am frightened by the fact that some tsa agent was somehow there to witness the pilot not waiting until the gate closed. Do they pay a tsa jerk to wait there-maybe at any airport with a through-the-fnece agreement?

ON another note, jon stewart did not even give Lou DObbs a chance to respond. He constantly interrupted him. I KNOW there is a lot worng in our country today. I don't think we are being represented by either side of th eaisle anymore. I would encourage people to read what Paul Craig Roberts has to say.

Posted by: RUTH PRESTON | December 8, 2009 8:27 AM    Report this comment

Paul, great editorial. Responders, great comments (mostly). Looks all the important observations have been made and I've had more e-mail notices of response to this issue than my inbox or brain can handle. Now, how do I unsubscribe to this thread...?

Posted by: warford johnson 11 | December 8, 2009 9:00 AM    Report this comment

Just unclick the box below the "enter comments" box or click on the "unsubscribe" at the bottom of your email notification. :)

Posted by: Duane Hallman | December 8, 2009 12:12 PM    Report this comment

All you people who blame the pilot for not waiting for the gate to close, would you care to list the rule that states that we have to? We never wait for the gate to close here, nor should be have to. Airport Watch works very well. We know who belongs on the field and who doesn't. If we see someone new we talk to them.

Does anyone really think that the fences and gates really curtail terrorism anyway? I guess everyone thinks that if a terrorist wants to steal a plane they won't hop the fence or cut through it, and if they want to use a plane as a weapon of mass destruction they won't make an off-field landing to prep it.

All these new "safety rules" due is inconvenience the law abiding citizens. Those who wish to do harm will do so. The only thing that could possibly prevent and aircraft from being used as a weapon would be to eliminate VFR and Class E & G airspace, put up 100% radar coverage and make EVERY flight controlled. You show up without clearance or deviate and you get a fighter on your tail.
Is that what everyone wants?

Posted by: Lawrence Williams | December 8, 2009 2:40 PM    Report this comment

Fellow Pilots, if you're AOPA members you should bombard them with emails threatening not to renew your membership. That will make them sit up and take notice. After the ignored an email I sent them a couple of years ago I didn't renew my membership and they begged me every month to renew and even today I still receive all kinds of free offers to encourage me to rejoin.

Posted by: James McErlain | December 8, 2009 7:07 PM    Report this comment

As poster Bruce Liddel mentioned he contacts his Congresscriter regularly, I suggest we all do the same. Repetitively. I know some in Congress are well aware of the TSA "excesses" and have heard some intend to author bills to review TSA authority and re-read the Patriot Act for it's diminishing of our freedoms. There is an ear - in fact, many ears - in Congress and we should all jump on the chance to bombard them with our concerns not only about how it affects GA, but all of our fast disappearing constitutional rights.

Posted by: Alfred Brown | December 8, 2009 7:39 PM    Report this comment

I thought I would share something that dawned on me tonight while watching TV.

Why is it that the TSA will create havoc in the GA arena, over a gate closing, but yet, we can call “Technical Support” on the phone, get someone in a foreign country , and give them access to our computer to fix the problem.

So, 80 year old Senator “so-in so” has a computer problem, calls Microsoft, and the next thing you know, India has the National Security Plan plastered all over the world wide web!!!

You want to bring jobs back to the U.S.? Give the TSA that tid bit of information 

Better still, we get charged long distance for calling across town, but can be connected to the Philippines, and can talk to them for hours,,,free !!!

It’s late and I am bored!

Posted by: Howard Dennis | December 9, 2009 1:25 AM    Report this comment

I was liaison to the Feds for my company for several years. I worked at all levels with OSHA, EPA, and civilian DOD staff, both in DC and in the field. I learned that the idea that a bureaucracy is capable of acting in a customer service role is an illusion.

This occurrence is but a single manifestation of an inherent and therefore insoluble problem with bureaucracies: bureaucrats’ street cred with their peers goes up based on how difficult they make life for those they regulate. Bureaucrats who reasonably accommodate those they regulate are deemed as weak sisters by those they work with. When the boys and girls get together around the proverbial water cooler and brag, it’s not about how they fixed a customers’ problem, it’s about how they made the civvy dance to their tune.

It is human nature to want to advance ourselves, to exercise power. With a vanishingly small chance they’ll get into any real trouble and a seniority system that uncouples advancement from actual merit, most bureaucrats’ primary means of exercising power is to jack with those they regulate. There are exceptions of course, but those individuals with any hint of customer service mentality tend to leave government and those who enjoy the power trip advance. Radical downsizing in numbers and in regulatory scope is the only viable long term solution. Think about this the next time a bureaucrat says the solution is more bureaucracy—and the next time you vote.

Posted by: David Kruger | December 9, 2009 7:34 AM    Report this comment

There is only one way we can begin to resolve this problem as well as the general loss of our freedom in the USA, and that is to make our desires to the government known and make it clear that if they don't react we will vote them out of office, and then do it. I for one want to see most of the so called security measures that interfere with our lives done away with. I am willing to take my chances and live free. If I die because of this, will it be any more of a price to pay for freedom than our troops are paying in our wars on terrorism. If we are willing to send them into harms way, how can be justify being such cowards ourselves.

Posted by: riley meeker | December 9, 2009 8:08 AM    Report this comment

>>general loss of our freedom in the USA

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | December 9, 2009 8:42 AM    Report this comment

As pilots, we are now having to serve two masters, neither of which has any authority over the other and both are typical bureauocracies. I need not elaborate on the absurdity of the TSA as anyone with an I.Q. higher than their number of teeth can attest. Let me deal with the FAA and leave the TSA to explore something of importance like terrorists arming wild animals with bombs that detonate inside airport boundaries. Wait - that's a bad suggestion. Sorry.

Posted by: Jud Phillips | December 9, 2009 8:52 AM    Report this comment

Loss of liberty is perhaps a more accurate descriptive than loss of freedom. In America, We generally think of liberty as freedom from interference by the government. The Declaration of Independence: We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." England, from afar, could do little restrict our freedoms. Freedom of association, religion, travel, et al, was not all that limited in colonial times. However, liberty was jeopardized in the form of excessive taxation, regulation, and strict limitations on private property rights. Liberty is what we fought for; freedom is what we gained by winning. History shows us that if liberty is allowed to erode unchecked, loss of freedom will follow.

Posted by: David Kruger | December 9, 2009 10:52 AM    Report this comment

Maybe it says something for my level of awareness, but I find no erosion of freedoms in my life. Liberty, the state or condition of being free to choose, I think is being misinterpreted today as eroding because we have to do more homework to keep the freedoms we enjoy - like security measures at airports, added requirements to fly out of country, etc. All of the heat on this board and from the summer's town halls to me is based in fear of losing freedoms we are not in danger of losing.

Fear has a lot of people riled up from the potential of sudden terrorist bombs to a nation dumbed down from drug use, etc. Maybe we need a war on fear - no, bad idea, we don't need another war, of any type.

Posted by: David Miller | December 9, 2009 11:41 AM    Report this comment

Paul, you ask what I can't do now that I could 10 years ago? Before retirement I owned and operated various twin and single engine aircraft doing aerial survey work through out the country, a lot of it for various government agencies under contract, and at various flight levels,even in the current ADIZ. You can imagine the red tape nightmare that is required now to get the permission to do that now, even though it is for the government itself. I also at one point in my career,had a job flying a twin Beech, and Navahoe under contract with the military, transporting various loads of amunitions from one military base to another. One such trip required me to be diverted to National airport because the weather was below minimums and couldn't get into Quantico. The aircraft was loaded to the brim with various munitions. Can you imagine the uproar that would cause today from both TSA, and the media, not to mention the FAA. Because of the regulations, and parinoid view point of different agencys, and the fact that the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing is but just one of many problems that we face.

Posted by: Gene Cook | December 9, 2009 11:48 AM    Report this comment

>...what can't you now do that you could 10 years ago?
For starters, Paul, stop by the airport on a whim and take my kid up to visit the local controllers. Now I can point to the combination-locked vault door to the tower stairs and tell him I'll show him pictures when we get home. And yes, that does impact my life in a "meaningful" way. The small things add up.

Posted by: Glenn Killinger | December 9, 2009 12:06 PM    Report this comment

Most cars have a higher useful load than my 172, many SUVs and pickups can tow a 7,000 lbs trailer, and anyone can still rent a 45 foot moving truck, any of which can be driven most anywhere undetected (as in not tracked on radar)! The car is the number one choice in IRAQ for bomb delivery by terrorist! I think the TSA has lost there way!

Posted by: ROBERT JOYE | December 9, 2009 12:21 PM    Report this comment

Trevor, good catch. At least someone at TSA got dinged for the breech and Congress is moving towards an independent investigation of the agency, called for by both Ds and Rs. Good. Hope the press does it job and keeps stories like this front and center. Probably too optimistic...

Posted by: Jeffrey Boatright | December 9, 2009 12:34 PM    Report this comment

Robert, I agree that the little things add up. For me, loss of privacy was a biggy. One thing we can't do today that we could a few years ago was jabber on our cell phones or communicate otherwise without having the federal government monitor every single conversation (not in depth of course, but through various levels of data mining). It's not like I have anything to hide (except I'm boring conversationalist), but there is a chilling effect.

Like Robert's missing his trips to the control tower, the chill is a small thing, but the small things add up.

Within the bounds of your question, the impact on daily life is small. However, the loss of privacy, and more importantly, a Justice declaring that Americans don't have a right to privacy, is a much bigger deal to me.

Big and small, these losses are like the frog sitting in a bucket on a hotplate. If the temperature is brought up slowly enough, the frog never knows he's about to pop.

Posted by: Jeffrey Boatright | December 9, 2009 12:46 PM    Report this comment

Darn - sorry. It was Glenn, not Robert, who wrote about the loss of visits to control towers.

Posted by: Jeffrey Boatright | December 9, 2009 12:48 PM    Report this comment

I very much enjoyed just walking on the field and in and around aircraft and hangars. Same on military airfields after going through the gate. Even back then military posts were pretty much open to everyone. Many's the time I was preparing for an MX test flight on a weekend day and have local civilians wandering around asking questions about the various flying machines. Most had their young children with them, an inumerable number of whom I lifted wide-eyed into and out of the cockpit. Lots of interest lost with them, now.

Lying in the warm grass watching the tow planes and sailplanes coming and going in the spring and fall was priceless. Go try that now...

Posted by: John Willingham | December 9, 2009 12:52 PM    Report this comment

Lunatic? Fox News is an asylum!

Posted by: Larry Fries | December 9, 2009 8:50 PM    Report this comment

Sorry lw fries, CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS,etc., are the places where the nuts reside. FOX news is the only refreshing breath of air on the market today.

Posted by: Duane Hallman | December 10, 2009 2:52 AM    Report this comment

....Hahahahah...good one Duane...and of course Anne Coulter is a bloody genious too..;) I guess you also think invading Iraq was a master stroke by the neocons...obviously it has all worked out very well, as predicted by all the pundits at Fox...clearly as they predicted the world is now a much safer place for all and everything has worked out swimmingly.

Posted by: Trevor Evans | December 10, 2009 10:09 AM    Report this comment

The action doesn't make any sense. What will the TSA do about air parks where there is no FBO and multiple access routes. Heaven forbide having to have TSA officals in everyone's home for screening purposes. This type of decision making happens when government beaucrats they are not in touch with their citizens. Pray that health care reform fails,

Posted by: Ronald Lowery | December 10, 2009 4:53 PM    Report this comment

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