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The TSA Undermines Faith Again

TSA Official Ruben Orlando Benitez Under Arrest for Murder

Two stories I’ve read about the TSA lately, thanks to Josh Wood. First, the fact that this guy made it on a plane with a knife is disturbing (from the Salt Lake Tribune):

A 60-year-old Salt Lake City man is accused of threatening to slit the throat of a seatmate aboard a flight from Utah to Las Vegas on Sunday after becoming enraged over an armrest and leg space.

David Alan Anderson was charged in U.S. District Court on Tuesday with felony counts of having a dangerous weapon on an aircraft and retaliation against a federal law enforcement officer in connection with a tantrum he threw on Delta Air Lines Flight 2478 Sunday morning.

Anderson allegedly walked to his assigned seat, 5A, shortly before the plane’s scheduled 9:50 a.m. departure time. He sat in his seat and began elbowing the passenger in seat 5B in an attempt to “claim” the armrest between the two, according to a court complaint.

The passenger inched away from Anderson and allowed him to have the armrest, but Anderson then placed his foot on the passenger’s leg, the complaint states.

The passenger told Anderson, “Sir, you are going to have to move over.”

Five minutes later, the passenger glanced up to see Anderson staring at him, the complaint states.

Anderson allegedly told the passenger, “If I had a knife, I would slit your throat right now.”

The passenger alerted flight attendants, who saw that Anderson appeared to have an object cupped in his hands and also kept reaching into a bag, the complaint states.

Salt Lake City police officers were notified and discovered a Gerber folding knife with a 3.5-inch blade in Anderson’s carry-on bag, according to the complaint.

While police were transporting to the police station, he threatened the officers, charges allege.

Anderson allegedly told one cop, “I’ll find out where you live and cut your eyeballs and kill you,” the complaint states. He also told an FBI agent, “Your days are not long,” and “I’ll pull your eyeballs out,” according to the complaint.

He ended the conversation by saying, “It will give me a lot of pleasure to see you again, but you won’t see me, Bucko,” the complaint states.

Anderson is set to appear at a detention hearing before U.S. Magistrate Paul Warner on Thursday. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison if convicted on both counts.

I once accidentally carried a pocket knife through security at Harrisburg undetected. I found out about it when trying to get through security in Denver on my trip home. That wasn’t reassuring about the quality of HIA security. Still, I had hoped that things had improved since then. Guess not.


The second story comes from the Clarion Ledger. Apparently an official in the Mississippi TSA has been arrested on suspicion of murder:

One of the top federal Transportation Security Administration officials in the state of Mississippi has been arrested in connection with the killing of TSA worker Stacey Wright.

On Sunday, D’Iberville police found Wright, 43, stabbed to death in her apartment there.

Authorities said Ruben Orlando Benitez, 45, who serves as assistant federal security director for screening for the TSA in Mississippi, has been arrested.

Bond has been set for $3 million by Justice Court Judge Albert Fountain.

Gee. For some reason the fact that this guy was in charge of helping to keep the flying public safe is not reassuring. What is it going to take for the TSA to do something that will help the public to have more faith?

I realize that two stories do not make the TSA as a whole criminals or negligent. In fact, I would guess that most of the TSA workers are wonderful people trying very hard to do their job and keep us safe without invading our privacy. It is just that the rules that are in place give too much power to agents who want to abuse their power, and requires agents to do things they are probably as uncomfortable with as we are!

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