Updated: The Real Meaning of the TSA's FFDO/Pilot Punishment

Since Drudge’s current headline story has broken out everything but the red police light for the TSA Pilot Punishment story (video), it appears the early and limited facts are not in dispute. Baaaa

What’s also brilliantly clarified in my mind is the TSA’s real agenda around flight security.  Bolstered by the highly controversial new radiation-or-grope procedures and the recent news that the TSA failed to detect 20 out of 22 flight threats (guns, simulated bombs, etc) in covert tests, supportable conclusions are rather easy to reach.

To summarize the current story, an airline pilot (an armed Federal Flight Deck Officer and reserve helicopter pilot) posted half a dozen youtube videos pointing out serious flaws in our airport flight security systems.  Days later, the TSA arrived at his house and confiscated his government issued sidearm.  They were accompanied by a local Sheriff’s deputy who also took the pilot’s concealed carry permit.  All this prior to a review to determine if the pilot violated transportation security regulations in disclosing the security flaws he documented.

One of the serious security flaws he ‘revealed’ was one known to anyone who has watched only a few action thriller movies in the last decade: the fact that any ground mechanic, catering employee, aircraft cleaning crew or baggage handler has almost totally unrestricted access to the aircraft while you are boarding.  Yep, it’s the old cleaning-crew-member-hides-a-Glock-in-the-bathroom-wastebin-for-the-terrorist-to-recover-after-takeoff ploy.

And you and I watched those movies ‘knowing’ that the security practices in the real world would prevent this.

Apparently not.

It’s been suggested for some time now that the TSA’s actual practices are no more than security theater, but there is genuine purpose to this theater in which you and I are the unwilling participants.

That true purpose is to tame the independent-minded average American into a pliant supplicant petitioning the government on a boarding basis for freedom of movement.   Baaaa.

Now let’s back up a bit and take a look at the quality of the man to whom this happened.  He’s been a captain with the same airline for 10 years.  He’s a Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) – a federal agent with the smallest jurisdiction in the world: the flight deck of an aircraft.  His jurisdiction does not extend beyond the cockpit door.  He’s a reserve officer aviator.  He’s a concealed carry permit holder in the state of California where it’s all but impossible to get a CCW permit.  To become an FFDO, he had to attend the FLETC school in Artesia, New Mexico where he underwent psychological evaluation and training relevant to his duties — in the same school that trains our border patrol, air marshals, and many other federal agents.

In the neighborhood that I grew up in, this man would have been regarded as a ‘serious dude’ and an asset in the community.

What arouses alarms with me is not simply that this officer is obviously being punished for revealing information we all need to know as our federal government successfully turns us into compliant sheep, but also how deeply and vigorously they can reach into other branches of our security infrastructure to ensure that the ‘guilty’ is well-punished prior to indictment.

Consider the Sacramento Sheriff’s part.  The laws in California for obtaining a CCW are widely and well-understood.  The problem is getting the local sheriff to issue you one.  Somewhere, somehow (federal grant money? task force participation?) some pressure was brought to bear on the Sacramento Sheriff’s office to deprive this federal and military officer of his constitutional right to bear a firearm (well-earned I’m willing to assume for now) and confiscate his CCW permit without a conviction or even an indictment.   Baaaa.

Big sister practices are not only turning individual citizens into sheep, but local security agencies that we depend on as well.

Next, I expect we will learn that his reserve unit has taken him off flight status ‘pending a security review’ and thus the TSA will deliver the first blow to this hero’s pocketbook.  I suspect that will we also learn shortly that he had attempted earlier to deliver his security observations through appropriate bureaucratic channels with no response and no action.

We are willing to become sheep in order to enjoy our wealth as a nation.  Drudge, in the approach to the Thanksgiving holiday took some serious heat from some commentators for becoming nearly shrill on the TSA groping issue.  I thought Drudge was right on with his alarums about the diminishment of our rights and freedoms.  More worrisome were the comments following many of the stories he linked to.  Many sheep posted that they didn’t mind the intrusiveness that much if it would get them to Aunt Carol’s safely and on time.

The wealth of our capitalism has delivered riches that cannot be counted in our bank balances and paychecks.  Just one of these is cheap air travel that frequently places travelers in the company of other passengers so poor that they use trash bags as luggage.  Such riches can be very, very persuasive in getting us to consider selling out our freedoms.  We could easily become the richest slaves in history in just a few short years.

Today, it’s air travel and large stadia.  Tomorrow, it will be rail travel and commuter rail as is already widely discussed online.

Then the day after, every click on the internet and every swipe of plastic will be a suppliant bleat to big sister to allow us to take the next trivial step in our lives.


Update: according to an update from Channel 10, the investigation will be closed once his resignation from the FFDO program is accepted.  The pilot has already tendered that resignation.