Wednesday, January 16, 2013

...and that's not even how you spell "viper" anyway.

It's hard to decide what would win the prize as the single dumbest artifact of the Global War on a Noun.

The knee-jerk response would be the way everybody has to take their shoes off at the airport like it's a teppanyaki restaurant and not a flying bus station, all because some guy tried to set off a "shoe bomb" a decade ago and got the crap pummeled out of him by his fellow passengers (which seems to be the standard penalty for Allahu akhbar-ing while flying these days anyway.) I'd gladly sacrifice the occasional planeful of strangers to not have to shuffle through everybody's foot funk any time I wish to avail myself of the marvels of Twentieth Century transportation.

But no, the winner of the prize by far is the "VIPR" team, headed up by the same TSA that brought you the goofy shoe thing above.

Taken off guard when the events of Summer '04 in Spain showed that bombs could be placed in conveyances other than airplanes and seized by the governmental imperative to Do Something (and, more importantly in a nominally democratic society, to Be Seen Doing Something) they came up with the idea of random mobile checkpoints made up of transit cops, federal poultry truck inspectors, Coast Guardsmen, anyone else who fell in the loose catch-all bailiwick of the TSA, and local po-po.

Said clusters of Keystone Kops would descend upon some "intermodal transit point" (bus or train station, truck weigh station, or wherever) and Look Busy, protecting us from terr'rists and "Never you mind about the Fourth Amendment, little Missy, this is for your own good. Are you with us or with the terr'rists? [Cue Lee Greenwood.]"

Fourth Amendment issues aside, this is akin to pulling over to the side of the highway and everybody running out into the field and tearing apart a random haystack because you heard there might be a needle in one, then billing the farmer for keeping him safe from needles.

It'd be nice to think that there was a malevolent plan behind this, meant to accustom Americans to probulation, but sadly that's probably just an unintended side effect. The whole thing doesn't really have that "plan" vibe about it at all, "lack of planning" having become practically the thumbprint of the TSA. No, the TSA is the Maginot Line of federal agencies, always reacting, ever-vigilant against the previous tactic.

It'd also be nice to think that at some point we'll declare victory on the terr'rists and disband the TSA like it was Pershing's AEF, but... Hahahahahahaha! Eliminating federal jobs! That's a funny one! No, the TSA and its VIPR teams aren't going away like the World War I army; they'll linger on like the Korean War-era mohair subsidies that made sure Mark Clark's boys had warm wool trenchcoats to wear in the trenches along the 38th Parallel (where they still squat today, with nary a stitch of wool in sight.) A federal bureaucrat is the only thing known to dig in tighter than an Alabama tick.

As a bonus? The catchy acronym intended to make a bunch of glorified federal meter maids sound sexy and dangerous to those evil jihadists also makes it easy to come up with conspiracy theories, like this Euro website that is to our own domestic Reynold's Wrap yarmulkes what a Bentley is to a Buick when it points the finger at Obama's VIPER death squads.


Woodman said...

Wow, I almost went all the way down the rabbit hole on that one. But I'm at work and I'm worried the crazy might be contagious.

I think it's interesting how many advertising links there were on that article. Conspiracy theories always seem to pay off someone.

MizuBob said...

Jesse Ventura would agree with your Alabama tick comparison.

Anonymous said...

I am proud to be Obama voter
cause I get lots of stuff for free
I don’t give a shit about the
rights they take away from me.

Tam said...

Uh, you can't lay the whole VIPR thing at Obama's feet.

This is a genuine 'Murrican Texas-accented Dubya GOP thang.

Leatherwing said...

I just hope they don't name one of their task forces FIST. That will be a little too eery.

Anonymous said...

I imagine the shenanigans will increase at DHS/TSA to justify budgets.

ATF did the same thing to justify their budget at Waco.


Shrimp said...

I'm waiting for them to name an organization either KAOS or CONTROL. That would at least fit the overall competence level for the TSA and similar groups.

Frank W. James said...

Obama has 'Death' squads but they're not part of the TSA mob, rather they are part and parcal of the ObamaCare package. After you turn 70, they decide if you need or deserve life saving surgery or not and they only meet during daylight hours Monday through Friday, so those over 70 can't get sick or injured in the middle of the night or on the weekends.

Yep, he does have Death Squads, but they work in Hospitals NOT TSA...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Anonymous said...

There was an amusing incident a while back at an Amtrak station, I want to say it was in either the Carolinas or Georgia. The TSA tried that, and their agents promptly got arrested by the railway bulls for trespass. I don't know if charges were filed, but the TSA did get firmly removed from the property. Apocryphal reports embellish the story with cheering travellers.

Cormac said...


I read that...and my brain don't feel right.

They're a couple extra shades of crazy.
And I'm kind of worried about a few of the commenters who probably believe themselves to be "on the same side"

Robert Fowler said...

Leatherwing said...
I just hope they don't name one of their task forces FIST. That will be a little too eery.

I see what you did there. Bracken just has a way.

Anonymous said...

So what does ViPR stand for?

Verified Incompetent Pedophiles & Reprobates would be my guess

Joanna said...

All these acronyms put me in mind of a joke about SPECTRE, but they were more a multi-/extra-national thing, weren't they? So that won't work.

I'm not sure if I'm more relieved, or disappointed.

Anonymous said...

It must be because I'm getting older, but I reach the point in the day earlier and earlier when I look at the ceiling, and think when did the world get so goddamn STUPID.

It's not because I'm a genius or anything, but EVERY SINGLE day it's like people who are adults and everything seem to go out of their way to do stupid stuff.

Stuff that not even NEW and stupid, but proven stupid after centuries of observation to a very high degree of confidence.

It's like I'm an a open age lunatic asylum.

Steve Skubinna said...

Yeah, Joanna, all VIPR allows is the "Revenge" part.

But if you're an entrenched bureaucrat that's probably enough.

On the other hand, did we ever find out if VIRTUCON is an acronym?

Woodman said...

The times this was tried in the past they just didn't do it smart or hard enough.

They know better now.

Jon said...

VIPR, huh? Does this mean we an start calling Obama "Cobra Commander"?

Anonymous said...


Not in his direct chain of commmand but close.


Robin said...

This is classic Tam snark.

** applause **

Windy Wilson said...

The older I get the more I am -- peeved and dismayed by our government's need to put some cutesey acronym on all the legislation the founding fathers would be in arms over.
Patriot Act
At least that last one is bilingual. Teatro de la Seguridad del Absurdo, to qote Joe Huffman.

Tam said...


"I imagine the shenanigans will increase at DHS/TSA to justify budgets.

ATF did the same thing to justify their budget at Waco.

If the BATFEIEIO was in charge of the VIPR teams, they'd stack outside the doors of the Amtrak station, lob in some bangers, and storm in and prone everyone out.

They make the TSA look like the epitome of low-profile professionalism.

Geodkyt said...

Leatherwing said...
I just hope they don't name one of their task forces FIST. That will be a little too eery.

9:14 AM, January 16, 2013


"Our fingerprints on your colon mean Freedom from terrorism, Citizen!"

Bubblehead Les. said...

If TSA has that many People that AREN'T Groping Kids at the Airport, maybe they should all be transferred to Mexican Border instead and wallk the Line at night. Or Fire them.

There IS a Budget Deficient, you know.

Firehand said...

Yeah, there was an Amtrak station where these clowns showed up without letting the railroad cops know in advance, and were thrown out of the station; basically a 'You pissed on my fire hydrant without my permission!' situation.

Screw 'em both. It was Amtrak that wouldn't let you ship a firearm as baggage because 'it's too dangerous' even though airlines do it. And when ordered to change, too a friggin' year to 'research the matter and decide on procedures'.