Playing “Freeze Tag” is Another TSA Safety Protocol

There’s this fairly new TSA “security” procedure where TSA agents instruct those that have already gone through security to “freeze.” It’s actually not that new, but it’s taken the TSA forever to acknowledge that it’s part of their security measures. After travelers have taken their shoes off, put their belongings on the conveyer belt, had their liquids tested for “terrorism,” subjected themselves to the naked X-ray body scanners or the prodding of Agent “Soft Hands,” they want everybody to just stop in their tracks and hold still like manikins. Brief video footage shows the agents ordering a crowd of post-security people to “freeze,” and one agent can be heard instructing a man to “stay right where you are” when the man tried to make his way through the still crowd. After a couple minutes of this freeze, they were told they could continue walking.

What in the world does this accomplish? How in the world does this have anything to do with the safety and security of passengers? It has nothing to do with safety or security and everything to do with training us as if we’re animals. They’re trying to turn us into a bunch of mindless automatons who are programmed how to “sit,” “play dead” and “freeze” on command. And there’s not much that can be done about it. If you decide to travel by airplane, then you have no choice but to be subjected to ludicrous and humiliating “precautions.”

Last year, Joe Sharkey of the New York Times wrote an article about this procedure. He had first hand experience with it in Atlanta and LA. In one of the occasions, he had just been cleared out of security and was about 30 or 40 feet from the TSA checkpoint when an officer yelled, “Freeze!” He said that he didn’t think anything about it and just kept going until someone barked at him to stop walking. It wasn’t even an officer that scolded him. It was another passenger who had apparently done this before. He snarled at Sharkey, “You’re supposed to freeze!” I guess the TSA’s practices are working and people are getting it that we’re supposed to follow orders blindly with no questions.

According to a TSA spokeswoman, these “freeze” exercises are not meant to train passengers to be subservient, but to train TSA officers how to deal with a security breach. The idea is that in the case of a potential security hazard at the checkpoint, they want to be able to get everyone to stop until the security issue has been resolved. The spokeswoman said that these exercises are typically done during off-peak hours only once a year and are done for only a minute at a time.

But even she said that passengers weren’t really required to “freeze like statues.” She said that while the TSA has the authority to carry out a wide range of security measures, forcing people to freeze is not one of them unless the travelers were still in the checkpoint area. So I guess it depends on how big the “checkpoint area” is. That may be their stated policy, but according to travelers who have witnessed this bizarre practice, it definitely didn’t come across as optional.

I don’t buy the TSA’s explanation. This doesn’t make people safer. It doesn’t make terrorist attacks less likely. Given how easily bought TSA agents are, if a terrorist wanted to sneak in a bomb, he’d just pay a couple agents to sneak it through for him. Agents have in the past been more than happy to smuggle in drugs for money. If they’d do it for a drug dealer, they’d do it for a terrorist too if there was enough money involved.

The dark irony here is that the event that inspired the creation of the TSA could not have been prevented by the TSA. There were no bombs or guns involved. Only box cutters. There’s no way that the TSA could have figured out with all their fake security rituals that a few men were going to carry out a murder-suicide mission with only box cutters. If at least the pilots were allowed to pack heat, 9/11 would not have happened, and maybe we’d be TSA-free today.