The TSA, Blogger Bob and George Orwell

There’s been a lot of discussion going on at GovLoop about a post I did about the TSA blog. In it, I asked whether the TSA blog was supposed to be propaganda or the unvarnished truth.

GovLoop is an online community designed to be “Facebook for feds”.

I objected to the fact that “Blogger Bob” from the TSA categorically states that no one is being groped at airport checkpoints. This is so far removed from reality to be laughable. Anyone who has opened a newspaper or turned on the news has seen countless reports from ordinary citizens about being felt up at TSA checkpoints.

Blogger Bob responded to my post on GovLoop. He accused me of spreading misinformation. He puts “groping” in quotes as if it’s all a big misunderstanding. This agent of the government is disappointed in me. That’s a bit worrisome, considering the tools the TSA has to make my life difficult.

Friends of Blogger Bob defended him in the comments. One person even texted me privately. They say he’s a good guy. I’m sure he is. I’m sympathetic – being a blogger for the TSA has got to be an impossible job.

I’m a big fan of government blogging. When I worked at NOAA, I set up a blog and advocated for greater blogging within the organization. The scientists at NOAA do fascinating work that deserves greater coverage.

But government bloggers work for the people. They have an obligation to be truthful. They’re not supposed to do propaganda – that’s expressly illegal. When I was at NOAA, the feds I worked with stressed to me that we were public servants. All of us, contractors and feds, united to provide quality, vetted information to the public.

“Our work speaks for itself,” one veteran fed told me, declining to do any PR at all about what they did.

Government bloggers have an obligation to be truthful. When they deny the obvious (no one is being groped) that destroys their credibility. And the Orwellian language is even worse – “enhanced patdowns” for that hand on your groin.

Winston Smith rewrote history in 1984, changing the facts to match the policy of the day. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia…

It’s a dangerous path that the TSA is on. Instead of providing factual information, they give us taxpayers self-serving spin. I hope that the TSA and government bloggers turn away from this future. Because at the end of this long road lies Winston Smith, in a cubicle, sending inconvenient facts down the memory hole.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

2 thoughts on “The TSA, Blogger Bob and George Orwell”

  1. I’m surprised that people would even give a TSA blog the time of day after all the evidence of their mistreatment, cover-up of wrongdoing, lack of common sense, over-reacting to some situations and never answering direct questions about the true horrendous incidents that have taken place — some of which winding their way through the judicial system.

    This is another rogue police agency that is arrogant, never apologises and changes the rules on passengers who come with print-outs on what is allowed and what is not. The American public simply can not adapt to an agency that is so arbitrary in its dealings with the public.

    Air travel, in many respects, was an extension of the hospitality industry. Over the years, however, the skies have become very unfriendly indeed. The TSA was the last straw. There used to be a certain level of glamour and anticipation to air travel — at least for those who had no phobias about flying. These days, however, passengers are left feeling like they’re being processed to serve a stint in a correctional facility.

    Many people are saying that the terrorists have won, and I agree with them. The spiritual among us can agree that there are some fates worse than death. What is slowly happening to this country and our previously open and free society is bringing that out into the open: Big Brother is everywhere, the government is becoming more intrusive and the unbridled expanse of police powers without due process is frightening.

    1. Agreed – flying is so unpleasant these days that it’s like running a gauntlet. Between the airlines charging for bags and the possibility of being manhandled by the TSA, what sane person would fly if they could drive or take a train? You’re right, the skies are very unfriendly. Also, it would be one thing if this creeping security state actually made us more secure but so much of it is just security theater.

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