Reader Mail : “How Can You Possibly Defend The TSA All The Time?”

Well today seems like as good a time as any for a reader mail, one of more than 2,200 I woke up to this morning, after posting Did The TSA & JetBlue Deny Travel For Looking Muslim During Ramadan? Nope yesterday evening.  I only read a little more than 100 of these emails, as the were largely filled with threats, hatred and other less polite things … however I grabbed one based on the email subject title.


Ravi, no last name or other information provided (with an IP Address going back to Arlington, TX) wrote “How Can You Possibly Defend The TSA All The Time?”  That was it, nothing else in the email, just a subject header.


So Ravi, let me address your question.  I am sure the thousands of visitors to my Flying With Fish in the past day have likely never been to my blog before, nor have they taken the time to get past the blog post they came to read.  So for the new readers, who will probably never read this post, let me clear some things up.


First off, thank you for taking the time to read Flying With Fish. I have been covering aviation security since the 15th of September 2001, after covering Ground Zero in New York on September 11th 2001 and began covering the Transportation Security Administration on the 19th of November 2001.


For more than a decade I have diligently covered the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), along the way have maintained a fairly neutral stance.   I try and keep myself in blinders when researching a story.  Some days I rip into the agency and some days I defend the agency because being biased is counter productive to what I do.


For those who think I have some sort of stake in promoting the TSA’s “company line,” you should probably I know that I have been on the wrong end of the TSA more than most people and in ways most people cannot possibly begin to fathom.  Due to my coverage of the TSA, and publishing of security directives the TSA at one point sent two Federal Agents to my house three times in two days; the TSA took my laptop and the U.S. Secret Service ended up destroying my hard drive in the process of seeking out who my unnamed sources were (they never found the names of my sources nor will I ever reveal them); the TSA has been in my email without a warrant; the TSA has detained me for lawfully taking photographs of security checkpoints in an airport.


If you think I defend the agency let me point you in the direction of six (well seven) of my personal favorite posts over the years:


Is 100% Of Air Cargo Really Screened Under The Certified Cargo Screening Program?  … this post was written on the 3rd of August 2010, much to the TSA’s disapproval, just three months before two bombs were placed into the cargo holds of two aircraft bound for the U.S.


Airport Security & Humanity … This Should Piss You Off … this post was written just a month ago and as the title says, this should piss you off.


The Legality Of The TSA’s ‘Enhanced Pat Down’ Authority … this post addresses three senior people in the TSA failing to provide any answers to the TSA’s Enhanced Pat Down Authority


The TSA Rereverses Its Already Reversed Decision On Knives As Carry On  … the post is related to this post … The TSA, 2.36″ Knives, Lack Of Threats & Real Threats


Airport Security Searches Of Children & Children As Legitimate Threats …  this post is probably one the TSA-haters won’t like. This is where the TSA caved to public pressure and they did so creating a gap in aviation security


Are TSA Behavior Detection Officers Effective? No This one is an interesting read, at least I think so.


Have I defended the TSA over the years?  I have as well, and not just yesterday with Did The TSA & JetBlue Deny Travel For Looking Muslim During Ramadan? Nope .   


Other posts that have riled people up and left my email box flooded include:


Debunking TSA Incidents – Passenger vs TSA & Austin Police


Debunking TSA Mistreatment Of A Dying Woman


… so, while you new readers may view me as … if I may quote some of the emails I read this morning …  a TSA apologist, hack looking to curry favor, blind follower,  TSA employee masquerading as a blogger, Republican racist (FYI:I am neither), and quite a few other less pleasant terms … let me explain this, I have been able to maintain long term trusted sources within the TSA and other agencies for years because I take no sides.   Many of these sources have sent me information that has helped me rip into the TSA and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as well as security directives and other information that has made the agency look less than favorable.



My research is done under the assumption both sides are trying to pull one over on me then use my experience to figure out a picture what occurred.


So Ravi, if you think I am defending the TSA all the time, may I suggest you get past the first post on page one of this now seven year old blog. But if you choose to read through my blog be prepared to read both sides of the fence when it comes to the TSA.


Not everyone has to agree with me, heck, maybe no one will agree with me, but I take my coverage of the TSA and aviation security seriously because it is an important topic. If I covered aviation security with a blind bias then the impact of what I do would be diminished.  Being neutral is not always easy, but it is the right way to ensure disseminated information is based on fact rather than emotion.



With that, I leave you with possibly my favourite post of all time on Flying With Fish“Two Men Enter Two Airports, One With A Rectal Bomb…” (this is not a typo)


Happy Flying!






  1. To call Steven someone who defends the TSA all the time just shows how people just jump onto one post, make up their mind and run with it instead of reading the full story.

    I enjoy following your blog because you do what most so called journalists don’t do these days, fact check, provide both sides of the story and leave it to the reader to make up their own mind.

    Who can forget the TSA investigators showing up at your home because of the information you published, it’s interesting that someone who was investigated by DHS/TSA is now supposed to be a mouth piece just because he did what other should have done , look at the post of someone which clearly was not telling the whole story and give the readers the option to form their own opinion.

    I’m going to continue to have flyingwithfish in my feedly to get all updates never mind what 2000+ plus idiots have to say.

  2. This is one of the most objective blogs I’ve ever read, and I take the time to read every post.

    If you’ll take the time to read what Steven suggests, you’ll see that his well-reasoned thoughtful approach is exceptional journalism – in an age where well-reasoned thoughtful journalism appears to be frowned upon in favor of FOX- or MSNBC-style ranting.

  3. Sir, I have always found admirable your focus on objectivity and neutrality, when the popular thing to do throughtout the internet (and the blogosphere, including some of your fellow BoardingArea bloggers) is incessantly bashing the TSA (and to be clear, they deserve a large portion of their bad-rep).
    Keep up the good work, they (the idiots) will come and go, your real readers will stay.

  4. Very nice post. You have an excellent blog, thoroughly objective. Ignore the trolls.

    Eric Welch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *