Thursday, November 18, 2010

Putting the T&A in TSA

Just a few of my own thoughts (well, I suppose I'm not the only one with these thoughts) to close out the discussion on the TSA's aggressive security screenings…

Our own Midtown Miscreant rightly pointed out the other day that airport security screenings are not really that much worse than anything most ex-cons experience on a daily basis during their time in the big house.

His basic point, as with other proponents of the new measures, is that yeah it sucks to treat everyday, law-abiding citizens like the worst criminal in the world, but you have to do it for safety.
Is it the perfect fool proof solution? No. But I've yet to hear a workable alternative.

And this is part of the problem. MM, like decreasing majority of the American public, has bought into the scare tactics employed by bureaucrats and lobbyists who basically say "If you don't let us take naked pictures of you and grope you, you are going to be killed by terrorists."

In fact, many security experts have gone on record as saying none of these tactics would have foiled any of the terror plots that we've seen. Furthermore, the recent "tonor cartridge bomb" plot was discovered by other, less intrusive security measures.

Now don't get me wrong. I'd probably avoid the super backscatter scanning X-Rays they're using since I'm not crazy about having 1.21 gigawatts of radiation sent through my body (I like my chromosomes they way nature intended, thank you very much).

Of course, those of you more worried about modesty than radiation might not feel all that comfortable with a bunch of mall cop rejects checking out high-resolution scans of your nether regions. If you're one of those people, you might want to invest twenty bucks in some special X-ray shielded panties.

Personally, I enjoy a good groping by strangers as much as the next guy. And while I might consider having a sweaty, overweight guy with bad breath put his latex glove-covered hands down my pants at the airport a bonus, I can certainly see how some might find it objectionable, even invasive.

What concerns me more, however, is how we got to where we are.

It's like we've lost our minds here. We've been scared witless, and we're not thinking rationally. All the threats we've heard of — Shoe Bomber, Crotch Bomber, Tonor Bombers — are threats from abroad. Yet now we're clamping down on flights from Kansas City to Tallahassee? And that was only three or four cases out of hundreds of millions of flights.

So these measures, which are really just a kind of theater to make people feel like they're safer, have little real effect on a statistically insignificant problem.

I think a better approach is prudent and reasonable police work. The Israeli approach is probably pretty good. Use multiple checkpoints with security people actually trained in spotting real suspects — not frisking your 5-year-old niece.

Let's use our brains, citizens.

And there's one other germ of a thought that's been bouncing around in my brain lately. We, as a society, are expecting way too much out of our government.

Sure, the government likes it that way. The self-perpetuating bureaucracy loves the opportunity to assume more and more our responsibilities and is happy to accept more of our money and liberty in exchange for trying to keep us safe.

But the truth is, we have no reasonable right to expect to be 100 percent safe 100 percent of the time. A long, safe, healthy life is great. But for human beings, that's the exception, not the rule.

If I had lived 100 years ago, I'd probably have died before I reached my 38th birthday. Now I realize we live in the future and we've made advances in medicine and technology, but we're on a course toward asking our government to encase the world in Nerf for our own protection.

Anyway, there may be more on that line of thinking later.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. all the threats we've heard of — Shoe Bomber, Crotch Bomber, Tonor Bombers — are threats from abroad.

    Those on passenger plnes were also all stopped by passengers. A metal detector followed by giving every adult male on the flight a 30" polished oak nightstick would probably save a whole lot of time and aggravation. But the pictures would not be as pretty...

    old post deleted because sometimes I don't know what I'm talking about and it's embarrassing

  3. Very well said.

    I have a post up right now asking about the responsibilities of the police in protecting the public from crime. I put the post up because I'd be talking to some gun control advocate and when I'd ask how would the average US citizen protect themselves from criminals if guns were outlawed... they'd always say the police would protect them.

    People just want to wrap themselves in bubble wrap and not have to lift a finger. They are like 40 year olds living at mom and dads hoping the gravy train doesn't derail.

  4. okay, then just come up with an easy way to tell whether someone has a gun or bomb or some weapon on them without the x-ray or pat down.

    do that and problem solved.

    (note: there isn't one)

  5. Not so fast; I understand the Israelis are doing just that.

    They're developing a new airport security device that completely eliminates privacy concerns that attendant to the current full-body scanners at the airports.

    It's a black booth you step into: it does not use X-rays, but WILL detonate any explosive device you may have on you. You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA: "Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on SouthWest flight number ____."

    This would be “win-win” for everyone, sans whining over racial profiling.

  6. ...and the new Israeli system would forestall this nonsense:

    Rocky mountain high indeed....

  7. okay, then just come up with an easy way to tell whether someone has a gun or bomb or some weapon on them without the x-ray or pat down.

    Or a cavity search. Now that AQ has figured out that it's just as easy to stick C4 up your ass as it is to stick it down your pants, the groping is worthless. Therefore it has all the side effects of microwaving and sexual assault with none of the advantages of actually stopping a bomber.

    So as soon as one blows up a plane again*, we will either have to go to cavity searches or we will have to decide that maybe making passengers helpless is not the best way to secure an airplane.

    * or, as happened with the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, is subdued by passengers in the attempt.


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