My take on TSA/the airport security debate

Since I think my view differs a bit from Cindy, let me lay out my thoughts on the airport security debate.

1) While I am not a fan of full body scans and pat downs, if it could be shown that they would save lives, I would not necessarily oppose them.  And in fact, I am sympathetic to Dennis Prager’s position that body scans do much LESS to rob people of their dignity than other aspects of flying that we unflinchingly accept, such as not allowing people to get up and go to the bathroom during the flight.

2) The bottom line is that we are too spineless to do the one thing that would most help to keep us safe:  use profiling to identify terrorists.  The 2008 Libertarian Party VP candidate Wayne Allen Root writes: 

“The simple (part) of this solution is to end political correctness — private airlines can best prevent terrorism by adopting the Israeli model of PROFILING. No, not racial profiling, but rather “terrorist threat profiling.” No need to argue — it works to perfection. Israel has the safest airports and the safest airline (El Al) in the world. There has NEVER been a successful terrorist attack at an Israeli airport or airline. Why? Because their security experts rely on profiling, not political correctness. They ask a series of rapid-fire questions of all passengers. There is no time to lie. If you try to lie, it is easy to detect inconsistencies in your story. At that point you are pulled aside for a more detailed screening or body search. But everyone does not need to endure the health threat of major radiation, or the privacy violation of intrusive cavity searches. It is time to leave grandma and my baby daughter alone, and look for real terrorists.”

3) Therefore, the best thing that could come out of the TSA debate is for us as a nation to have a real conversation NOT about what level of pat-down is acceptable, but rather about the broader issue of how our excessive desire for political correctness puts us at greater risk of attack.  By being so preoccupied with showing “sensitivity” to all other groups (including those who want to destroy us) is a grave danger to our nation… and not just at airports (for example, consider the Fort Hood massacre).

Comments

  1. I don’t see that as different at all. If you’re going to grope, make sure I feel safer, don’t just tell me I feel safer. (I am confused how letting someone go to the bathroom is robbing them of their dignity. Maybe I didn’t read your wording correctly.)

    Woohoo! for point #2. Agreed to #3.

  2. I don’t think anyone opposes behavioral profiling. Or am I missing something? What we lefties dislike is the call from the right to profile by ethnicity and/or religion.

  3. Pooey. I swear they profile already – to avoid possible confrontation.

  4. Israeli model would require tens of thousands additional trained security personnel to screen passengers at multiple points from entry to airport to actual boarding. Ben Gurion handles about 10,000 passengers/day same as San Juan, LA, Atlanta and Chi. all are over 80,000/day, MKE is over 20,000. Arrive 3 hours before flight- maybe this would be a subversive plot to encourage rail travel.

  5. Whoa! So now you’re the expert?

  6. Ryan Morgan says:

    Cindy: Sorry… typo on my part… I meant to say “not allowing” rather than “now allowing”. it is fixed now. Glad we are in agreement!

    WJ: Given Israel’s circumstance, I highly doubt we would need as many guards per passanger as they do to achieve the same level of security. You ARE right that we may need more than we have today… and to that point, I would add that I suspect you could hire quite a few security guards for the cost of a couple of the ultra-modern scanners.

  7. Not allowing a potty break would indeed compromise human dignity at times. Glad we cleared that up.

    It dawned on me that I’d feel a whole lot better about the whole scanning/pat down thing if every passenger were treated the same. So, wait until there are scanners for the traffic the airports get, make everyone walk through the scanner, pat down anyone who fails. All done. In the meantime, we all walk through the metal detector and then get extra attention IF we set it off.

    In fact, this is exactly the way it was managed in AMS. I ended up being frisked because 1) I dare to wear a bra and 2) I forgot I had chapstick in my pocket. It wasn’t a big deal because everyone was at exactly the same level of expectation. Plus, the scanner pics there weren’t actual body images (Oh gasp! So not a good plan on this physique.) but rather a front and back of a human figure with rectangles over the reacting areas. The agent knew exactly what to do with the information. And I did too! Next time I empty my pockets completely and wear something a little less supportive.

  8. Randy in Richmond says:

    jimspice
    How is the call from the lefties (this administration) to profile the handicapped or those using prosthetic or medical devices any different from profiling a particular religion ?

    http://abcnews.go.com/Travel/tsa-responds-passenger-outrages-underwear-search-happen/story?id=12208932

  9. We need to switch our system to Israeli-style profiling. Yes, our nation is supposed to be “politically correct”, but when our people are being significantly inconvenienced in the name of senseless security measures, like those of the TSA, maybe alternate systems, like profiling, are needed. It works in Israel – a nation engaged in an active conflict – so it’ll probably work for us.

  10. How about Israeli-style behavior pattern recognition?

    http://securitysolutions.com/news/security_exposing_hostile_intent/

  11. Profiling or pattern recognition – isn’t it the same thing with a different label? If people weren’t so hypersensitive to the term profiling we probably could have solved this ages ago.