The Alphabet Soup Of Security

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Security yes, but remember we "allow" personal searches by TSA, ICE etc. The government and these agencies must respect that agreement between the citizens and the government. Act like you work for the American people, respect our rights as we acknowledge your responsibility. You are all engaged in these activities to serve the public by making us safer. If you want to be abusive of us, act arrogantly, stupidly, lazy or try to be a tough guy or gal, than you need to be either trained better or fired. As clarification I do fully understand the times in which we live and the security necessities for our nation.

After traveling to several countries the treatment on re-entry into the US was both disrespectful and shameful. How can Americans allow public employees in such important positions as Immigration, Customs and Transportation (TSA) to be so inept, indifferent and really just plain nasty to people? Naturally there are decent professionals doing their job in a proper manner.

While traveling abroad I visited Amsterdam, Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic. The security and customs procedures in each country were humane but thorough in their treatment of people. Customs personnel actually spoke to people, asked logical questions, reviewed their paper work and offered assistance to help expedite people through the review process, even those who did not speak their language.

For any Americans who have not experienced the arrogance and attitude of "some" US Customs and Immigration personnel, not all but many, let me explain. We are demonstrating shameful behavior to our citizens and foreign visitors in the name of making us safer. We need to look at what we are doing and decide if our actions really address the problem or only pay lip service to it. If you think what we have is the best we can do, then shame on you and that includes our elected leaders sitting on their exemption from what we experience due to their positions in Washington. I found my treatment and that of others by this alphabet soup of security agencies to be less than our best. Is there no one in our government with the knowledge and brain power to properly administer these agencies? The solution can't be more money and more people. That is apparently what we are currently doing and it's costing us a fortune for mediocre service. Upon arrival in the US after a lengthy international flight a rest room would have been a great relief. Instead long lines greeted us, double and triple lines, with no apparent effort to expedite their movement. No verbal help or directions. An electronic check in with finger prints and photos being taken even of infants being held up to cameras by adults. Three additional times checking in with actual personnel. Although never being outside of the secured areas, we still had to exit and pass through security again. Really, is this the best we can do? How can some government workers act responsibly and be helpful while performing their job properly? Others leave much to be desired. We need to place the blame at the top, directors, supervisors and our elected leaders who never quite experience what we, the general public, go through. Maybe that's the answer. Let's have our leaders actually be subjected to the same lines and searches that we are. I thought these important people did, that's how they knew where we need help. Shame on me for being so naive.

When I was in the army the best training instructor told us that we can never be as cruel as our enemies can but if we use our heads we can always outsmart them. It is time to be smarter. It will make us safer and show others who we are because we do it better. Let's use our heads. 

Comments

Autumn Cote Added May 14, 2017 - 5:39am
Please note, the second best way to draw more attention to your work is to comment on the work of others.  I know this to be true because, if you do, I'll do everything in my power to draw more attention to your articles. 
 
PS - There is a lot I can do and would like to do.  
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 14, 2017 - 9:52pm
Thanks for the follow up.  This is my first post since returning to the US.  I have also commented on a post and now intend to be more involved.
Autumn Cote Added May 15, 2017 - 5:47am
Great!  Please note, this article wold be a lot easier to read if you added some white space between paragraphs.  As always, many thanks for your participation with Writer Beat!
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 15, 2017 - 5:53am
I have also experienced the mistreatment you describe. Frankly most on WB could care less. My solution is never ever go there ever again for any reason what so ever. Easy peasy. 
George N Romey Added May 15, 2017 - 6:35am
And with all of this "security" we are no less safer-whatever that might mean.  Another example of government that is pretty much useless and expensive and "woe" that we might redirect that money really helping Americans.  Welcome to Big Brother.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 15, 2017 - 10:41am
Not quite sure why paragraph spacing is not appearing. The original writing was spaced.  I'll figure it out.  Thanks for the heads up.
Ari Silverstein Added May 15, 2017 - 11:29am
I’ve traveled abroad many times and have never noticed much of a difference between customs agents or the process.  Do you have any data which supports your accusations that American lines are longer, didn’t review paperwork or that our agents are ruder?  I suspect this article is simply more anti-Americanism, hence the lack of any factual information. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 15, 2017 - 12:18pm
Don't mind Ari Phil, he has the obtuse market cornered.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 15, 2017 - 12:32pm
I didn't take photos or make recordings.  I used personal experience while still fresh in my mind which I discussed with my traveling companion.  Since I did defend my country in  Vietnam and volunteered at various times through my life in the interest of my country, I resent the assumption that what does not match your agenda must be Un-American.  Regardless I will defend your right to be "obtuse."
Joanna Nutile Added May 15, 2017 - 4:36pm
It sounds to me like you’re comparing travel within the EU to travel from the EU to America.  That’s an unfair comparison, as travel within the EU is similar to travel within the United States (as in from one state to another).  I can’t stand dealing with customs officials, but have noticed nothing overly negative about American customs agents versus customs agents elsewhere.  Scratch that, I had one terrible experience with Jamaican customs officials.  One of my bags was filled with toys for the kids and they decided I intended to sell them and forced me to pay a fine to bring them into the country.    
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 15, 2017 - 5:13pm
Never mind this one either Phil. Same affliction as her tribe mate. 
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 15, 2017 - 6:33pm
I know the average American understands  the difference between traveling to Europe and within the European Union.  Some of us understand the difference between the organization of the states in this country and that of the European Union.  It is usually easier to criticize the person than to consider the validity of what is said.
Dino Manalis Added May 15, 2017 - 7:22pm
Security has to be both thorough and humane!
John G Added May 16, 2017 - 3:35am
American customs officials are the worst on the planet in my experience. 
American airlines are also the worst in terms of service. The UA thing recently wasn't actually surprising to me.
Mind you, Australia has JetStar which treats its customers much the same way.
Jenifer Frost Added May 16, 2017 - 6:00pm
John G writes "American customs officials are the worst on the planet in my experience. 
American airlines are also the worst in terms of service." 
I couldn't agree more, I 100% boycott all American air travel. If land connects it I'll drive there, if not I'll take a ship or drive to Canada then fly from there. I'll NEVER subject myself to the fascist un-American TSA or pay hyper-premium airline prices for hyper-sub-standard service. Never. 
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 16, 2017 - 6:49pm
Jennifer,  I certainly don't disagree with you and appreciate your comment.  We have two problems one is the treatment of us by our government officials the other our treatment of us by an industry which holds us in low regard.  Not sure what the remedy is to each of these but I expect the solutions can work together.  If I can refer to one of your articles we need a superhero.  Since I am much older than you may I suggest Clark Kent from the original (to me) Superman series on TV.  Sorry just wishful thinking.
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 16, 2017 - 7:28pm
 Not sure what the remedy is to each of these but I expect the solutions can work together
 
The remedy is simple. EVERYONE stop going to the airport for a week. One short week is all it will take. They'll be begging for you to come back.
Jenifer Frost Added May 16, 2017 - 7:57pm
Good solution Jeffry! The bottom line is all the scumbags pay any attention to, that's for sure. What most amazes me is through their neglence the American airlines (& specifically the carrier American Airlines) were indirectly responsible for 9/11 and the thousands of people killed. They should be groveling for forgiveness and our business not the opposite. Beyond outrageous. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 16, 2017 - 8:03pm
Imagine Jenifer what could be accomplished if no one went out their front door for a week. No work, no buying their shit, no nothing for a week. They can't fire everybody. 
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 16, 2017 - 8:18pm
Economic boycotts are certainly an option to consider.  Most of us don't have the financial means to make an impact individually.  The airlines do hold us somewhat captive because our travel choices are limited.  Cars mean time lost and high speed trains don't really exist in this country.  We can have an impact in numbers.  We don't need to boycott all the airlines.  We need to pick one and clearly state our grievance, such as spacing between seats has legs up to our chins but pay more and you can get adequate leg room.  This is absolute BS.  It helped M. L. King when it came to bus service.  How do we get huge numbers of people to act is the question?
Ari Silverstein Added May 17, 2017 - 9:50am
All both of us have to go on as it relates to the theory that American customs officials are ruder or the process is more difficult, is our personal experience.  Seeing that you’re the one that wrote this article, I believe the ball is in your court to provide your readers something other than anecdotal evidence presented as fact. 
 
I apologize for my remarks about you’re anti-Americanism, I frequent this site quite a bit these days and that’s seems to be the nature of most of its participants.  However, because you served doesn't automatically make you pro-American.  If you're saying you aren't biased against America, I'll accept that.  For many others, we know based on past submissions and comments, they have extreme bias against America.  
 
One thing I’ve noticed about the customs process that’s worse in places outside America is the requirement to inform customs officials where you’ll be staying.  I don’t think it should be the government’s business where one decided to sleep. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added May 17, 2017 - 10:17am
One thing I’ve noticed about the customs process that’s worse in places outside America is the requirement to inform customs officials where you’ll be staying.
 
Expats and foreigners are ALWAYS asked by DUHmerican agents where they'll be staying. I tell them its none of their fucking business. If they insist I tell them I have no idea I'm not some loser DUHmerican that makes one trip a year and is afraid to go somewhere without a hotel reservation. Fuck'em none of their business.
 
I also leave that info blank when traveling anywhere else. I'm seldom challenged and I always say the Hilton though I never stay there. 
Stone-Eater Friedli Added May 17, 2017 - 1:01pm
The more wrong someone does the more afraid he has to be.
 
So much for this one.
Shane Laing Added May 18, 2017 - 6:14am
When I flew into Houston the immigration officials were very polite and efficient. I just answered their questions, its quicker than arguing and I was gasping for a cigarette. I should also add us brits are world beaters when it comes to standing in queues so I was used to it.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 18, 2017 - 1:47pm
Thanks for your comment.  Standing in lines or queues is something we all have adjusted our lives to doing particularly since 9-11 in this country.  I have returned to the US through a couple of different cities but not through Houston.  I would expect that the area of the world from which a person is returning would and should raise the alert of our various security agencies.  My questions or concerns are, are these security checks or methods specifically the most effective?  These are working apparently but that doesn't mean they are the most effective both for security but also for the treatment of people not just US citizens.  In my experience governments tends to enact "solutions" which may in fact work but then seldom look for feedback to anticipate changes to improve the security and general operation, unless there is an incident.  Putting out fires is only part of the job.  Preventing them is just as important and I am talking about the process as much as some terrible incident inside our borders.  Under our form of government the treatment of people must always be a consideration while maximizing our security.
Mircea Negres Added May 20, 2017 - 3:39pm
After years in the industry, before leaving I concluded that security is not for stupid people, but because of low wages, lack of proper resources, antiquated management techniques and other problems, it's pretty much the retreaded retards who end up filling most positions because the good people leave. That at least is the situation in South Africa, and I've never been to the U.S., therefore I can't offer an opinion on the professionalism and effectiveness of those who work for TSA and ICE, though there have been quite a few incidents reported by witnesses and journalists which don't exactly paint a rosy picture. Nice post.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 20, 2017 - 3:54pm
Thanks for taking the time to comment.  I am just now reading your "spook me.......". Good read so far.
Mircea Negres Added May 20, 2017 - 4:48pm
Phil, that was only the first part of a four part series I wrote and am glad to hear you're enjoying it so far. I'm currently busy writing part 2 of a series on race relations in post-apartheid South Africa, but these are not published on Writer Beat because they're long (one in the Spook Me! series was 19 pages) and do not generate a lot of comments.
Phil's Personal Perspectives Added May 20, 2017 - 7:18pm
Thanks for the update.  Although I have never visited South Africa I am somewhat familiar with the history.  I look forward to future readings.

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