From: John S. Pistole, TSA Administrator

To: TSA Employees

RE: Policies & Procedures Update

Summer's here! More Americans are traveling, and I thought I'd just take the time to drop a note to my big, happy family of TSA line agents.

1. Hygiene Reminder: People, people, please remember to wear your gloves! It's summer, and it's hot, and you're probing the groins of a higher number of people, and lots of them are sweaty, and . . . I'm just saying. I don't want to be presiding over some sort of outbreak scenario here.

2. Working For the TSA Is a Privilege: Always remember that you have grave responsibility and power conferred upon you: the power to grope the genitals of complete strangers. Better yet, they aren't allowed to grope you in return. No backsies! Tell me, do your friends working a shift at Dairy Queen have those sorts of perks? But look: this brings up a slightly uncomfortable subject. Human sexuality is wondrous and beautiful. It's completely normal to have certain feelings and urges, even when you are working, especially when your work requires you to touch the primary and secondary sex characteristics of strangers. But the time to express those urges openly is not on the job — it's after work, or at least during an approved break.

3. Substance alert: I've been getting some questions about people carrying the ashes of loved ones here, and I understand there is some confusion about proper protocol. What it comes down to is this: I trust you, people. If your instinct is that ashes are dangerous, you just go ahead and poke around in that flier's grandma. I've got your back. Maybe the person's dead, but that doesn't eliminate all threats. Jesus Christ came back from the dead, and he was Middle Eastern, amirite? See, that's just the type of levity that will help lighten the mood when you're sorting through the remains of dead people in front of the bereaved. Logic also works: tell the passenger that you would have full authority to probe their father if he were alive, so it makes no rational sense to complain about you doing it when he's dead.

4. Hiring Alert: I'm excited to announce that we're increasing our presence at Amtrak stations. We believe that Amtrak's commitment to efficiency and safety and our commitment to customer service and good judgment make a winning combination. As a result, we're hiring again! Got a friend who has been out of a job? Have they been drifting through life aimlessly? They can find pride again searching random strangers at a train and/or bus station!

5. Regarding Pay: Look, people, I'm doing everything I can on the Hill to get your salaries bumped up. But let me remind you: self-help is OUT as an option. You'll get raises. Just keep your eye on the balls.

6. Kudos Time: I just wanted to give a shoutout to my dear friend, Blogger Bob, who writes tirelessly to promote the idea that what the TSA does is necessary and appropriate. Bob's a bit of a jokester! Just the other day he said to me, "Hey Johnny — what would happen if the American people started probing all these lists of items seized and asking hard questions — like 'how does this compare to what was seized pre-TSA?' and 'did any of these people have terrorist ties, or was there any indication that they meant to do harm?' or 'how are these seizures from bags connected to touching the genitals of grandmothers and children?'" And then I said — and I kept a straight face, people — "Yeah, what if the media started asking tough questions, too?" And then we busted up. That's just the type of team we are around here.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Chris R. says

    Thank god they didn't give me any crap when I was flying with my mother's ashes. I would have probably gone to jail. I am not a violent person, but seriously, you spill my loved one's ashes, I am going to punch you.

  2. says

    Ugh. It's too early for this, Ken. By which I mean I haven't had time to go home and start drinking to dull the pain of reading the various artciles this links too. Now what am I supposed to do for the rest of the day? Hit my head against the wall? Maintenance has already hollered at me twice about the dents I keep making!

  3. Reformed Republican says

    Finding these types of items in areas where explosives could also be hidden is a testament that the technology works.

    Yes, but finding explosives would be a testament that the technology is needed. Since they are not finding explosives, I would argue that they are a waste of time and money.

  4. Gal says

    I checked Amy Alkon's blog and where the search-box on the side says "search blog" I first read it as "search bag." I think that qualifies me as a TSA agent.

  5. Jess says

    “In a Travel Leader's Group 2012 survey, they found that respondents were also asked if full-body scanners are a concern. Nearly three-quarters (74.4%) said that they were not worried about the scanners, which recent studies claim to use safe levels of radiation.”

    I’ve noted that nowhere does the TSA state the sample size of the respondents surveyed by the Travel Leader Group’s group or if in fact these respondents were frequent travelers. Doing a survey about opinions on the porno scanners using a statistically irrelevant pool of only .0005% of the traveling public is about as meaningful as conducting a survey to find out if people care if cows fart in space.

    Frankly though, the 74.4% that are not worried about the scanner are the same 74.4% who are willing to erode the rights of the remaining 25.6%. I find the ignorance and apathy of the 74.4% far more frightening than the TSA itself.

  6. says


    Do you have some kind of clairvoyance regarding the TSA? I just saw this on Teh Intarwebz, and you already had it read, analyzed, and written up. I salute you, sir!

  7. Janet C says

    Well, apparently if you work for the TSA and spill ashes of human remains, the procedure is to laugh. Good to know, and thanks for keeping it dignified TSA.

  8. Amanda says

    As far as the full body scanners, I know many in Europe were found to put out a dangerous amount of radiation. As far as I know, they have not been tested by anyone other than the TSA in America. Does anyone know if they do anything to make the whole experience more tolerable for people who have been sexually assaulted other than lie back and think of England?

  9. Keith says

    I was at JFK on Saturday. Terminal 5 was evacuated due to a "security issue".

    I later heard two TSA workers talking to one another. Apparently some dumbfuck had forgotten to plug in the metal detectors, and had not noticed for a couple of hours that nobody set it off, nor that none of the lights on the machine were lit.

  10. says

    That's the usual level of TSA IQ,Keith. I once waited for three hours at DIA because some TSA twit let someone jump a rope. They cleared the entire secure area of DIA, and even required a half dozen aircraft to return to the airport.

    Complete morons.

  11. MJ says

    I love how the old mantra was that if you didn't want to be molested by the TSA, you shouldn't fly. Of course this was said in a way to imply that you were somehow not patriotic enough. Now the TSA is extending their reach, like submitter msa indicated above, into rail travel. We have their VIPER teams on highways, and I've read about programs for local public transit. We are frogs in a lukewarm pot of water, just getting used to the ever-increasing temperature.

  12. Angela says

    Due to disgust with the security theater at airports, I took to traveling Greyhound whenever I could stand to (and my time was flexible enough for it) some years ago. Never fear, though, CBP has plunged their hand into that, too. Now on a trip from Buffalo, NY to Cleveland, OH you can expect armed agents to get on somewhere in Pennsylvania and question you about your citizenship and immigration status. (I hear it happens on other routes, but don't have first-hand experience with those.) So far there's no strip searching or groping, but how far behind can that really be?

    Right now they ask if you're a citizen and if you say yes, they move on to pester the next person along, but if they ever decide to ask me to prove it … I've told my family that if they don't find me turning up when I am due, be sure to hunt pester Homeland Security about me. I'm a citizen, but I am not going to prove that just for the dubious privilege of taking a Greyhound from Buffalo to Cleveland.

  13. marco73 says

    The Orlando ashes story was mindboggling.
    You are a TSA agent in Orlando Florida, and you have never seen human ashes?
    After oranges and sunburn, the largest export from Florida is dead bodies. (What, you think we want to bury all those old folks here?)
    If you fly on a flight that has originated in Florida, chances are that there are at least 2 dead bodies travelling in the cargo hold.
    That agent was just stupid or malicious, take your pick.

  14. Saedi Folluf says

    I sincerely hope (but hopelessly, I feel) that this is one of those jokes. Some kind of satire, sarcasm, humor…anything but what I afraid it is – a clear sign that we are being herded into a cattle pen society while required to leave our brains out at the door.

  15. jess says

    Correction to my earlier post. They surveyed exactly 855 people. If my math is right that's actually only about .0001% of the traveling public. But trust the TSA to tout this survey as proof that all the rest of us believe in and trust the TSA and enjoy having our naughty bits ogled at and/or groped.