TSA Complaints On The Rise

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that complaints regarding Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening at airports have risen over the past several months — but the reason for the increase in complaints depends on who you ask.

The TSA says the increase has occurred because they weren’t counting all the complaints before. Until May this year, the TSA was losing customer complaints and under-reporting traveler gripes. To some travelers, security screening at the nation’s airports remains as big a hassle as ever, and screeners are even grumpier nowadays, which could obviously lead to an increase in complaints.

Recent totals of complaints regarding TSA service (not including reports about damaged luggage) supports the theory that the TSA did have a hard time keeping up with big crowds this past summer.

In the first five months of this year, complaints to the TSA about security courtesy were down. September of this year, the most recent month reported by the government, saw a 71.4% increase in TSA complaints.

Actual damage claims numbers were also down earlier this year, peaking in July with a 7.9% increase in checkpoint and checked baggage damage claims.

TSA Better Equipped To Handle Complaints

Kip Hawley, TSA Administrator, says the increase in complaints is largely due to changes made in May of this year when the agency moved its customer service department out of its headquarters to a new site. Telephone lines, computer bandwidth and better software to track complaints was added, so they’re now able to receive all the input everyone calls in. Whether or not anything gets done to resolve the complaints remains to be seen.

In 2003 Congress ordered the TSA to report its complaint totals. In September the TSA reported 2,502 complaints about its service and baggage damage. Complaints about screener courtesy were up 138%. Complaints about processing time were up 430%. Complaints about screening procedures were only up 5.4%.

The TSA has conceded it was missing and underreporting complaints in the past. Travelers were frustrated at getting busy signals on phone lines, never able to record a complaint and emails were not being properly handled. Apparently the TSA was missing a substantial number of complaints.

TSA Has Been Unresponsive To Complaints

In September Tom Zanecchia and his wife complained to the TSA after watching their 20-year-old daughter go through a checkpoint at Denver International Airport without removing her iPod and camera from her bag, watching as a screener began berating her, and watching as the screener threw the items into a bin, damaging the camera.

When the Zanecchias called the TSA to complain, a TSA representative told them the screener was out of line, but that without a name, the agency couldn’t do anything. Mr. Zanecchia says it’s important for anyone that is treated badly to get the security person’s name and badge number, assuming the TSA really cares about the treatment of travelers. The family filed a damage claim on the camera but has received no response as of yet.

Others hate the rushed, stress-filled security lines, with TSA officers loudly and rudely shouting out routine orders over and over while callously searching travelers while inconsistently enforcing seperate sets of rules from one city to the next.

Mary Ann Ramsey, president of a travel agency in Florida, was told by a screener in Fort Myers, FL that her quart bag of bottles was too full — the screener insisted there had to be an empty space at the top of the bag — citing a requirement never before mentioned in her previous travels. She doesn’t understand why the screener had to use such harassing tones while scolding her.

TSA Contact Center

If you have a problem with a TSA official, don’t complicate matters further by losing your temper. The three paragraphs directly below are directly from the TSA Contact Center tell you how to file a complaint:

If you would like to pass on any positive feedback or concerns to TSA regarding your experience, feel free to contact a screener supervisor while you’re at the airport.

You may also contact the TSA Contact Center toll-free at 1-866-289-9673 (open 24 hours a day), or by e-mailing us at TSA-ContactCenter@dhs.gov.

TSA takes all input very seriously and will respond promptly and appropriately to all complaints or comments.

Links To More Information

Links to the information above and numerous other interesting tidbits can be found below:

Complaints Against Airport Security Surge article from The Wall Street Journal

TSA Contact Center

American-backed killer militias strut across Iraq article from The Times Online UK

Feds’ budget tricks hide trillions in debt article from MSN Money Central:

“Every year, tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars are quietly added to the national debt — on top of the deficits that we hear about. What’s going on here?”

Who’s buying the next president? article from MSN Money Central:

“Big money is flowing to the 2008 presidential candidates. Tracking the cash can yield valuable tips for investors…so check out the signals from the investment, legal, oil and drug industries.”

A decade of John Howard has left a country of timidity, fear and shame article from The Guardian UK:

Sounds eerily similar to what’s going on here in the U.S.

“His power resided in his ability to speak directly and powerfully to the negativity at the core of the Australian soul.

John Howard famously said the times were his, and for more than a decade it seemed they were. Australia experienced the greatest and most sustained boom in its history. Yet at its end Australia’s indigenous population was in a ruinous state, its extraordinary environment was threatened on numerous fronts, and its people were beginning to ask where the wealth had gone: public schools and public health were in crisis, social welfare was straitened, housing was unaffordable for many, and wages and conditions were being cut under Howard’s industrial reforms.

Howard had promised that Australia would be relaxed and comfortable under his rule, yet this year Australians had become more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever, a state of affairs that Howard’s government seemed happy to exploit.

Howard’s divisiveness and his skilful manipulation of public opinion obscured the strange paradoxes of his era. If he flirted with racism, it was nevertheless under him that Australia ended up with the largest immigration programme in its history. His foreign policy was notoriously sycophantic to the Bush administration. Yet while he often seemed little interested in Asia, over the past decade Australia became far more closely tied in terms of trade to China, India, Japan and Indonesia, and its destiny ever more deeply enmeshed with the coming Asian century.”

FLASHBACK: As Halliburton CEO, Cheney evaded U.S. Law To Do Business With Iran article from Think Progress

Giuliani’s Henchmen Working in CA to Steal the White House article (with video of the tricksters caught on tape) article from OpEdNews

The Bush Touch: Turning Friends into Enemies article from Harper’s Magazine:

“George W. Bush came to power on January 20, 2001. He inherited the most powerful military force ever assembled in human history, and the most significant system of military alliances that any nation had ever constructed. It would be wrong to say that this was the product of the Administration of Bill Clinton. More accurately, it was the result of a bipartisan tradition in foreign policy and defense planning that stretched back to the era of Truman. Bush, however, was intent on using foreign adventures as a partisan political tool to enhance his grip on the helm of state. And he had little patience for or interest in alliances. The theme of his seven years of foreign and defense policy has been unilateralism.

One by one the leaders on the world stage who put their faith in Bush and thoughtlessly did his bidding have fallen in disgrace, usually rejected by their own voters. The first to go were Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi and Spain’s José María Aznar. Then Britain’s Tony Blair was forced to surrender 10 Downing Street to his Chancellor of the Exchequer, to give Labour a fighting chance to hold a majority in the next election. In the last week, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a conservative ally in Poland fell, and over the weekend, Bush’s most faithful follower in the entire pack, the veritable boot-licker John Howard of Australia. In each case, the association with George W. Bush was electoral cyanide to voters back home.”

The Ordeal of Catherine Wilkerson, M.D. article from Counter Punch

Lies, scares and deception on FISA article from OpEdNews

Railroading A Journalist In Iraq article from The Washington Post

Dan Rather’s Last Big Story Is Himself article from the New York Magazine:

“When Dan Rather sits on a bench in Central Park to tell how his 44-year career at CBS News ended in ignominy and humiliation, he is in fact still waging a war, a bitter and personal one. And the memories of the battles that undid him are still fresh on his mind. “Monday morning, about 8:49—and I think that is the time precisely,” he says. He’s recalling January 10, 2005, when he first received the 224-page report commissioned by CBS that excoriated his infamous 60 Minutes Wednesday segment on President Bush’s National Guard service. Of that report, Rather says, “When I read through it, all I could say to myself, on each page, is, ‘What bullshit. What pure, unadulterated bullshit this whole thing is. What a setup. What a fix.’” He nearly spits the word fix.

It was only three years ago that Rather reported the story that would cost him his career, but the world was a very different place back then. It’s easy to forget now, when prosecuting Bush in the press has become commonplace, that in the lead-up to the 2004 election, much of the mainstream media was in a defensive crouch. “This administration was hammering people for much less controversial stuff,” says a veteran TV news producer. “When they were at the height of their power, post-9/11, they would call about anything, yell about anything, pressure people about anything.” And it seemed to be working. Rather claims CBS dragged its feet on his scoop on Abu Ghraib prison abuse, which ran only after the network learned it was about to be beaten by The New Yorker. (CBS says it held the story because it wasn’t ready.)”

Disgraced General Who Pushed for Torture in Iraq Is Now a Spokesman for Democrats? article from AlterNet

Barbarism on the Rise – Civilization on the Wane article from The Smirking Chimp:

“Democracy has become an empty word that the world leaders kick around like an inflated balloon when it serves their interests. What is of importance to the Corporatocracy that is running the planet is very much the opposite of democracy. What the leaders are depending on for the continuation of the current misrule of the world is centralized power and dumbed-down, apathetic and poverty-stricken masses who pose no danger to the status quo.

Democracy doesn’t promote the interests of the ruling plutocrats. Their goal is to concentrate all the money and power in the tiny elite that hold the strings of the dancing puppets who are politicians. Government and business are all one and the same. Or different parts of the same monster. Some hold the strings of power, others do the kicking and dancing.

What is the difference between a totalitarian state which controls all the means of production and one where the owners of the means of production control the state? A different brand of totalitarianism but the contempt for the people could not be more deadly.”

‘State secrets’ doctrine draws scrutiny article from MSNBC News and The Associated Press

SCOTUS Non-ruling: More Chips in the Constitutional Foundation article from Daily Kos:

“With their refusal to hear a San Diego County case yesterday regarding unannounced searching of homes of public assistance applicants, the Supreme Court once again turned noted English jurist William Blackstone on his head. In the view of the Roberts court, it is better that ten truly needy people suffer than one potential fraudster escape.

Think about it. If you apply for public assistance in San Diego County, Ca., you are granting agents of the government the right to come into your house, unannounced and without a warrant, and examine every nook and cranny to make sure that you’re not committing welfare fraud. The usual “proof of need” is no longer applicable. If you are poor in San Diego County, you are presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Like the  random drug testing before it, the excuse of prosecutors is that, well, if applicants don’t want their homes searched, they are free to refuse. And then not receive public assistance. Let’s also posit that a vast majority of public assistant recipients are young, single mothers who have few other options in terms of feeding their children or keeping the lights on or paying the rent.”

DiFi’s Husband Invests In Firm That Pays Commission To Deny Payment To Hospitals For Elders’ Medical Care article from CorrenteWire:

This would explain why Dianne Feinstein has turned on her constituents, as well as fellow Senators:

“At the end of September, I posted on how some private contractors for a Medicare audit had turned into bounty hunters eagerly savaging the bills of rehab hospitals providing services to Medicare beneficiaries. The audit was a trial run ordered by Congress and involved three states: California, Florida, and New York. In California, records show that the auditors routinely rejected bills (up to 90%) from those rehabilitation hospitals providing services to those who’d had total knee or total hip replacements. As a result, several of those hospitals have closed or are about to.

The private contractor doing the audit in California is PRG-Schultz. Among the investors in PRG-Schultz is Blum Capital Partners, headed by Richard Blum of San Francisco. Blum is married to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.”

Rove: “Congress Pushed Bush to War in Iraq Prematurely” article from The Huffington Post:

Old habits are hard to break. Once again Rove is lying through his ass:

“You are not going to believe this, well, actually you will… According to Karl Rove (on Charlie Rose), the Bush Administration did not want Congress to vote on the Iraq War resolution in the fall of 2002, because they thought it should not be done within the context of an election. Rove, you see, did not think the war vote should be “political”.

Moreover, according to Rove, that “premature vote” led to many of the problems that cropped up in the Iraq War. Had Congress not pushed, he says, Bush could have spent more time assembling a coalition, and provided more time to the inspectors.

If you are like me, you have stopped reading/listening, and are rushing to get your anti-emetic.

It is worth remembering that the Senate in the fall of 2002 was controlled, barely, by Democrats. Get it? George Bush, we are being told, wanted to delay, wanted to hold back, wanted to take the time to build a coalition and let the inspectors finish their job, but that damn Congress just pushed him into it. George Bush, you see, is a careful, prudent, leader, deeply concerned about the consequences of premature.

Get it? If Biden, Clinton, Dodd or Edwards is part of the Democratic ticket, the Republicans will run a campaign charging the Senate Democrats with rushing to judgment, of pushing the poor President to premature…(well, you fill in the blank)….”

Hey, Young Americans, Here’s a Text for You article from The Washington Post:

“Is America still America if millions of us no longer know how democracy works?

When I speak on college campuses, I find that students are either baffled by democracy’s workings or that they don’t see any point in engaging in the democratic process. Sometimes both.

Not long ago, I gave a talk at a major university in the Midwest. “They’re going to raze our meadows and put in a shopping mall!” a young woman in the audience wailed. “And there’s nothing we can do!” she said, to the nods of young and old alike.

I stared at her in amazement and asked how old she was. When she said 26, I suggested that she run for city council. Then she stared at me– with complete incomprehension. It took me a long time to convince her and her peers in the audience that what I’d suggested was possible, even if she didn’t have money, a major media outlet of her own or a political “machine” behind her.

This lack of understanding about how democracy works is disturbing enough. But at a time when our system of government is under assault from an administration that ignores traditional checks and balances, engages in illegal wiretapping and writes secret laws on torture, it means that we’re facing an unprecedented crisis.”

Russians say their bosses are telling them where and how to vote in Sunday’s election article from The International Herald Tribune:

“MOSCOW: With the Kremlin determined to see a high turnout for Sunday’s parliamentary election, many Russians say they are being pressured to vote at their workplace under the watchful eye of their boss or risk losing their job.

They say they also are being told to provide lists of family and friends who will vote for United Russia, the party of President Vladimir Putin.

United Russia is expected to win handily. But after Putin turned the election into a plebiscite on his rule, the Kremlin appears to be pushing for nothing short of a landslide. The constitution requires Putin to step down in May but with the support of a strong majority of Russians he could claim a popular mandate to retain power.

“The plebiscite will become a mockery if only slightly more than half of the people vote and if only 60 percent of those vote for United Russia (as the latest polls predict),” political analyst Alexei Makarkin said.

In the push to get out the vote, a technically legal — but democratically dubious — voting scheme has become a popular tool.”

Giuliani: Earmarks for me, but not for thee article from Crooks and Liars:

“This may come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but what Rudy Giuliani says and what he does are frequently at odds with one another. In the latest example, Candidate Giuliani hates earmarks, but Businessman Giuliani loves ’em.

Giuliani, the Republican presidential front-runner, last month pledged to “get rid of” so-called earmarks, which cost taxpayers about $13 billion this year, saying his party should promote “fiscal discipline.” Just weeks later, Bracewell & Giuliani LLP won $3 million worth of projects for its clients in defense-spending legislation. […]

In all, Bracewell & Giuliani sought federal earmarks for 14 companies this year, 11 of which hired the firm after Giuliani joined in March 2005, Senate records show. Giuliani, 63, isn’t registered as a lobbyist. The firm paid him $1.2 million last year, according to his personal financial-disclosure form.

The defense-spending legislation approved this month by Congress contained funding for three of those clients, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based advocacy group that opposes special projects that lawmakers insert in spending bills without public debate.

Republican consultant Eddie Mahe responded, “It’s a bit hypocritical. He profits from it. I don’t think Joe Sixpack is going to buy into that.”

Everything that is rancid and corrupt with modern journalism: The Nutshell article from Salon News

Fake News and Propaganda: Shaping Our Reality article from OpEdNews:

“The mainstream media is dominated by a handful of mega corporations who control what many of us hear, read, and believe. The propaganda masters are censoring and suppressing the truth from the American people. There are many reporters who know the truth but dare not talk or write about it, and what some report they don’t even believe themselves. Those who are courageous enough to stand up to the establishment are often ridiculed, intimidated, and blocked by editors and producers who are acting as gatekeepers to the truth.

There have been calls for the arrests and even death of those who criticize the government. You know you have slipped into a fascist dictatorship when those who dissent are treated like traitors, terrorists, and enemies of the state. We are being brainwashed with all the propaganda that we are subjected to in our everyday lives in an effort to control our minds and shift us into massive groupthink. We are being told that we are spreading democracy around the world while our own freedoms are being systematically taken away.

There is a war on the truth, and we are partly to blame as we have lost our respect for genuine news. Dissent is an important ingredient in any free society, yet there is an effort to silence those who criticize the government. Through propaganda, the global elite wish to control our thoughts and perceptions. Just as there is an assault on our personnel freedoms, there is war on the freedom of the press. When journalists are threatened for doing their jobs, the big loser is the free flow of information and ultimately the truth.”

Olbermann and Huffington: Rove Launches Attacks on History, the Truth article and video from AlterNet:

“Keith and Arianna analyze and ridicule Karl Rove’s latest attempt to re-write the history of the origins of the Iraq War. “This the work of a shameless and perhaps soulless political animal,” says Huffington.”

Lerk’s argument: to those who disparage “conspiracy theories” article from The Democratic Underground:

Only one example is listed, but he goes on (convincingly well) to point out several more, including US attorney firings, special rendition of detainees for purposes of torture, extortion and malfeasance during natural disaster and falsely claiming ironclad intelligence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq:

“OUTING A CIA COVERT AGENT
It is a known conspiracy involving more than one person without broad public knowledge to:
A. leak the identity of Valerie Plame to several reporters in order to punish Joe Wilson
B. Deny the leak occurred from the administration, lying to the public and congress
C. Shut down an ongoing covert operation to detect and interdict programs of weapons of mass destruction.
D. Instruct underlings to lie under oath to a grand jury to protect upperllings in the administration

There are many, many more, evidence of conspiracies within this administration which hopefully other dutiful DU members will affix to this thread.”

Pentagon Forcing Wounded Soldiers to Repay Bonuses article from OpEdNews

Huckabee’s Record: Freed a Rapist Who Became a Killer, Destroyed Gov’t Hard Drives, Misappropriated Funds, Raised Taxes article from The Pensito Review:

“The scandals associated with the Huckabee administration in Arkansas include:

A rapist released at Huckabee’s behest who went on to murder his next victim;
Accusations that Huckabee and his family misappropriated tax-payer funds for personal use;
The charge that at the end of his term, Huckabee ordered the destruction of government computers worth over $300,000, apparently to obstruct possible future investigations;
While he was governor, the state of Arkansas raised taxes by hundreds of millions of dollars;

Details follow:”

Rudy Giuliani Does Business With Sheik Who Helped 9/11 Mastermind Elude FBI article from Crooks and Liars

Military Slaughters Iraqi Civilians article from AlterNet:

“Mainstream media would have you believe the U.S. military has only killed Iraqi “militants,” “extremists” and “criminals” — even when the people gunned down are women and children.

The pattern for reporting on such attacks has remained the same from the early years of the occupation to today. Take a helicopter attack on October 23rd of this year near the village of Djila, north of Samarra. The U.S. military claimed it had killed 11 among “a group of men planting a roadside bomb.” Only later did a military spokesperson acknowledge that at least six of the dead were civilians. Local residents claimed that those killed were farmers, that there were children among them, and that the number of dead was greater than 11.”

Army Captains Critique Iraq War article from NPR

CheneyBush Burned Again: Too Near the Plame article from The Smirking Chimp:

“Bush and Cheney being fingered in the Plamegate scandal by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan is not news. More than a year ago, Americans learned about CheneyBush’s complicity ( www.buzzflash.com/articles/editorblog/009 ) in the outing of Valerie Plame as a covert CIA operative — a treasonous act that put America’s national-security at risk — and about the coverup that followed.

We learned all this partially from good journalistic reporting and partially from Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in his 2005 indictment of Cheney’s then-Chief of Staff Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction, and from Fitzgerald’s May 2007 comments about Cheney ( www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/003319.php ) after Libby’s conviction.

No, the news now is that the political situation is far different than it was in 2005. Now, Bush and Cheney are much more politically vulnerable to impeachment and criminal prosecution. Also newsworthy is that the mainstream media this time around, at least currently, is mostly treating all this as a non-story, with barely a follow-up mention of McClellan’s bombshell and its implications. And I’ve seen no story in the corporate media that mentions Bush’s granting of clemency to Libby as a possible obstruction of justice by someone who stands to benefit by his aide’s continued silence.

If a scandal falls in the forest, and nobody hears it, did it happen?”

Cloning Dubya article from The Smirking Chimp:

“While George Dubya Bush will be in office for fourteen more months, many have already labeled him the worst President in modern American history. They complain that the Bush legacy will extend well beyond January of 2009 when the next President takes office. Political observers lament he has had the “reverse Midas touch,” where he’s worsened every aspect of American foreign and domestic policy he’s blundered into. Bush’s most lasting negative legacy is his autocratic leadership style, which has inspired other politicians to emulate his tactics and ethics. As a result, we see mini-Dubyas running for President and Dubya clones ruling other countries.

Bush has had a distinctive and destructive presidency. One characterized by dogmatic inflexibility: he came into power with a militant conservative agenda – cut taxes, reduce government restrictions on business, expand role of the military, and promote American empire – and has not deviated from this. Even in the face of evidence that it was counterproductive, Bush has steadfastly pursued his program: when he launched his “war” on terror, he could have asked the American people to make a common economic sacrifice and pay higher taxes, but he refused to do this. His administration ran up unprecedented deficits while claiming to be “stimulating” the market.

President Bush does not believe in the balance of powers doctrine prescribed in the Constitution: the notion that the executive, judiciary, and legislative branches of government are co-equal. Since he initiated the war on terror, he has acted as if he was above the Constitution. He invaded Iraq on false premises, filled the American media with misleading propaganda, and ignored the modern rules of war regarding treatment of prisoners and civilians. Building upon his manufactured image as “wartime” commander-in-chief, Dubya has operated more as a despot than as a democratic leader.

Bush feels the American people pay more attention to what he says than to what he does. His speeches are filled with platitudes about democracy and liberty; according to Dubya everything the US does in Iraq is intended to produce a model democracy. Nonetheless, the policies of the Bush Administration have diminished freedom in the United States and created a police state in Iraq.”

Turley: “It Is Rather Clear That What The President Ordered Was A Federal Crime” article and video from Crooks and Liars:

“The Bush administration has been using the “state secrets” defense in order to have federal law suits challenging their illegal eavesdropping programs thrown out of court. So far, they have been successful; thanks, in most cases, to lazy or partisan judges who have given little or no scrutiny of the validity of their claims which, according to Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley on Tuesday’s Countdown, are nothing more than unconstitutional attempts to cover up their own federal crimes.”

Dragnet That Ensnares Good Samaritans, Too article from The New York Times:

It’s a real shame that a police department once known for their heroic actions has resorted to something this low.

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