The idea behind the blog, according to TSA administrator Kip Hawley, is "to provide here a forum for a lively, open discussion of TSA issues. While I and senior leadership of TSA will participate in the discussion, we are turning the keyboard over to several hosts who represent what's best about TSA (its people). Our hosts aren't responsible for TSA's policies, nor will they have to defend them--their job is to engage with you straight-up and take it from there."
Well, so far, at least, it appears the public has grabbed its opportunity to speak directly to the TSA and is, well, shall we say, expressing itself rather vehemently.
"The TSA liquid policy is ludicrous and indefensible," wrote a commenter called "doctor anonymous." "It suggests that 6 oz of liquid can blow up a plane but two 3-oz containers can't. In addition, it was instituted in the wake of an impossible plot--the London bombing plot in 2006 supposedly entailed the manufacture of TATP aboard an aircraft with precursors brought aboard. But, of course, this is impossible. Synthesis of TATP is difficult--as I learned long ago in Chemistry class in a pre-9/11 world--enough in a laboratory, requiring careful control of temperature, and many hours of drying time. It couldn't be done in an airplane lav."
Or this one, from an anonymous poster: "Dear fear mongering air gestapo, While I appreciate your attempt to tell people that your agency is staffed by human beings with a difficult job, that doesn't mean their job is worthy of respect.
"TSA: Preventing implausible threats while unable to cope with tests for real ones, all the while saying 'papers please' and destroying America."
Of course, some comments are more positive than that. Many TSA employees, for example, have written in to praise their organization for launching the blog, on the theory that opening a dialog is a good thing. And even some purported passengers seem to think the TSA is doing the best it can.
On the whole, however, I hope TSA personnel are able to hear the kind of criticism they're sure to get over the next few days and weeks without pulling the plug on this.
I actually think the blog is a very good idea if some sort of progress comes from the back and forth. If the TSA simply ignores the comments and the suggestions made by the people who fly every day, then it is a useless waste of bandwidth.
Though, giving frustrated people a place to vent is always valuable, right?