On Christopher Elliott's travel blog, Sylvester the Jester tells a tale of woe about luggage and the TSA. Last August he came home with what remained of his checked baggage, and discovered that someone, he thinks TSA employees, had gone through the contents.
"There was a telltale sign of who created this mess because there was TSA tape over some of the props they had broken....Several props were damaged...."
According to Mr. Sylvester, when he finally made contact with the agency, the TSA employee who responded was at best neutral on the subject. Mr. Elliott suggests that the TSA seems well on the way to developing a "secret manual" on dealing with the public. Oh, dear. Meanwhile, he quotes Mr. Sylvester on TSA policy and public perception.
"As a magician, and as someone who understands perception better then most, I can honestly say with great confidence that the TSA is a waste of time and taxpayers’ money. Any truly committed terrorist would not be effected (sic) by TSA in the least. The problem with the function of TSA is that their heads are pointed in the wrong direction. Instead of interviewing the people, and making making sure they know who is flying and why, they herd us like unintelligent cattle and go through all of our luggage to see if we have anything that could be used as a weapon or that can be flammable. In fact, the whole airplane is flammable and can be a weapon."
As Mr. Elliott notes, who knows better than a magician how to detect illusions?
In a similar vein, here's Penn Jillette's story of his encounter with (I think) a TSA screener at McCarran Airport in 2002. And his partner Teller recounts his adventure with some Newark TSA screeners, but his meetup is less, shall we say, confrontational. I suspect that most people, when asked to explain questioned contents of their luggage, take the non-confrontational route. "Do you want to fly today?" is the magic sentence. For most of us, the answer is yes. Note that the TSA launched a blog sometime ago to open up communication with the public. Comments are lively and the spleen-venting is prolific.