Patterico's Pontifications

11/23/2010

Shouldn’t Everyone, As a Matter of Principle, Be Subjected to TSA Scan and Grope? (Update: Does it Even Work?)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:47 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]

As I said before, I am myself ambivalent about the TSA’s new scan or grope procedures, but personally I find this really troubling:

Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.

Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington’s Reagan National Airport.

Now on one level I get it.  Geitner, for instance, had his background checked and re-checked.  All his bad deeds came to light, including some that I think disqualify him for the job of Treasury Secretary, but nothing that makes me think he will suddenly bomb a plane.  And the article explains later that even then it’s not like they are traveling alone, indicating that many of these officials will already have security details with them approved by the TSA, to protect us in the unlikely event that they go suicide bomber on us.

But even with all that, and recognizing on some level it makes sense, it is still wrong.

Our leaders should live with the same laws they put on us.  If I have to put up with some dude touching my junk, so should the President.  So should all of them.  And if the President considers himself above that, then what business does he have telling me I am not?

Although I would make one exception.  Nancy Pelosi should be excused from the scan or grope.  Not for her benefit, but to reduce trauma on the TSA agents and any innocent bystanders who happen to be witnesses.  They do not have enough therapists in the world…

Hat tip: Michelle Malkin.

Update: This gets better and better.  First, to those of you who object that they don’t bother run these scan and grope procedures when you board a train or bus, don’t worry!  They will soon be doing it there, too.

Oh, but hey, at least then you feel safe, knowing that if a terrorist is going to try to blow up his Underoos, he will be caught, right?

Well maybe not.  Consider this line in an this interview with Bruce Schneier in Popular Mechanics:

Q: The machines have shown up in the wake of the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a plane with chemicals stored in his briefs. Would this technology have stopped him?

A: The guys who make the machines have said, “We wouldn’t have caught that.

Or maybe you could just watch this video with one of the mythbusters guys telling us how he accidentally snuck a twelve inch razor onto a plane.

Let me say that the only way I will consider supporting this scan or grope approach is if and only if it actually fraking works.

Update (II): Minor grammatical correction.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

108 Responses to “Shouldn’t Everyone, As a Matter of Principle, Be Subjected to TSA Scan and Grope? (Update: Does it Even Work?)”

  1. There’s a “Dickforce One” joke in here somewhere, but I can’t quit string it together.

    roy (f572a6)

  2. Oh come on, A.W.!

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  3. Or, you could go the other way — all non-felon US citizens are exempt unless there is probable cause. Of course that would require some kind of internal documents stating nationality….

    Kevin M (298030)

  4. The US Government is criminalizing all travelers b/c they don’t want to criminalize a few travelers.

    What next? Security checks to get in the Interstate?

    If you were to read a book on how Totalitarian Communism would be implemented in the USA it would look something like what we have done over the past years — from entitlements, to security, to how the judicial and administrative apparatus has reacted..

    Torquemada (a8a9b2)

  5. These indignities are reserved for the unwashed masses.

    JD (eb5afc)

  6. And therein lies the crux of the matter with problems of laws, and Congress, in the US. They write laws that they, themselves, are exempt from.

    And that should not be.

    If the law is not good enough for the elected elite, it shouldn’t be enforced on the rest of the population. There is no law I can think of that Congress has exempted itself from that where it applied to them, would improve both the lot of the average American and efficiency of the private sector.

    MunDane68 (54a83b)

  7. The US Government is criminalizing all travelers b/c they don’t want to criminalize a few travelers.

    Yes, they have it backwards — only high officials are subject to the grope.

    Kevin M (298030)

  8. How many indignities that they inflict on us, for no good reason, and for the record they probably
    wouldn’r catch ‘Jihad Jane’ or Azzam the American
    either with these stupid rules

    narciso (82637e)

  9. Barney Frank keeps going through the security line at the airport–even if he’s not flying.

    And he always “opts out” of the scanner.

    Mike Myers (0e06a9)

  10. It is naive to expect that in any given society, some will not be more equal than the others. It’s just the way it is. What are the chances that an attack will come from the side of top ranking government officials versus from the masses? The Sec. of State, for example, is not likely to bomb an aircraft, is she? Unless security is no longer the priority. I think it’s a waste of time.

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  11. mike

    heh, if i had a female screener of reasonable good looks, i might do the same.

    The Emperor

    um, did you actually read the post?

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  12. I think the issue is that airports have special channels for both government and some private individuals whose security details can show that queueing in a public access area for the normal screening would compromise the security of the individual.
    I think we all agree that the Speaker of the House and his/her security detail are unlikely to be hijackers. Our objection is the appearance of favouritism, and the fact that if they are insulated from the appalling treatment the ordinary public gets, they are likely to be unaware of it and thus not act to correct it.
    The good PR thing for Boehner and other officials to do now would be to have the screening. In some airports there is a separate route for staff and aircrew that could be used without putting “Flag Day” in a crowd situation, and otherwise the speaker and entourage could be hustled through one of the inevitably idle channels. Make sure that the press is there and that the congress members get exactly the same scan and agressive patdown as the normal public.

    Douglas2 (921833)

  13. douglas

    no, my objection is that they should be willing to endure what they inflict on us.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  14. The other philosophical discussion worth having is “how much freedom and/or dignity are we willing to pay for our security, and is there a diminishing returns relationship between the two?”

    Leviticus (20cc2a)

  15. They’re such fools: If they want to get the American public on board and reduce some of the fury, the President would announce that anyone in his administration – no matter what level (save for Biden and POTUS himself) will be required to go through the same security checks that the general public does. Solidarity against terrorists, or something like that…

    Part of the public push back, besides the privacy issue and the ever present political correctness preventing a common sense focus on those who display a fairly standard specific behavior and/or profile, is that we are not seeing our betters in this – we are being held to a different standard and told we must submit – for our own good.

    It’s similar to Obamacare – we’re going to be essentially be forced into the plan and yet they remain exempt.

    You’d think they’d have smartened up by now.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  16. Make them strip squat, turn their head and cough.

    SteveG (cc5dc9)

  17. @A.W Oh I did. But I don’t understand your aim. On one hand you agree it’s ok on the other you seem to think it’s not. Confusing…

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  18. No, I don’t think they will likely wise up, the policymakers, consider us ‘bitterclingers’ the real enemy, not so much the terrorists, they have a reason if not a rationale

    narciso (82637e)

  19. Emp

    There is nothing confusing about it. I understand why they are exempting them and… wait for it… I DON’T FRAKING CARE, IT IS STILL FRAKING WRONG. If Obama thinks it is beneath his dignity to be groped, then its beneath mine, too.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  20. I am troubled, Aaron, that there are any circumstances under which you would consider supporting this. That is all.

    Demosthenes (b04fc5)

  21. Anybody notice the op-ed in the WSJ today by Peter Funt? He says that he and his “Candid Camera” crew pulled a stunt like this back in 1999 (or so). They told people that the magnetometer was broken so they’d have to go through the baggage scanner. They ran 15 people through a fake scanner, lying flat on their stomachs on the conveyer belt!! Only one man refused.

    Funt’s argument was that, even before the 9/11 attack, we were a docile bunch of sheep. (my words, not his) People seem ready to do whatever they’re told, no matter how demeaning, as long as someone in uniform says they must.

    Gesundheit (aab7c6)

  22. Simple public relations would say that the TSA’s move to exempt high-ranking officials is not the brightest idea since Edison’s first light-bulb.

    I can understand the decision, but you know, we’re all in this together. Would it be too much to ask that the elected representatives of the people actually had to experience the consequences of their mandates?

    I think Torquemada and Leviticus both raise interesting points, though.

    Torquemada comes at if from the practical, common-sense side of the equation, Leviticus lands on a legitimate, philosophical argument.

    Everyone with a noggin knows where the threat comes from. They don’t really give two bits about the debate. They just want us dead — one life at a time.

    Ag80 (e828a4)

  23. What is the possibility that one of the “government security personnel” could be the terrorist???

    reff (b43ea5)

  24. My record is cleaner than Tim Geitner’s. I’ve paid all my taxes and never had an IRS audit go against me. And I’ve had as many background checks as Geithner in recent years.

    But I’m not exempted.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  25. I think there is a case where all members of Congress are exempt from getting scanned or felt up. Take a look at the Constitution, specifically Art. I, Sec. 6, Para. 1, Clauses 2 and 3:

    They [Senators and Representatives] shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privilege from arrest during there attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same;…

    Now I don’t like it (especially when a drunken Kennedy, not Ted, used it to escape from a drunk driving arrest), but that’s our Constitution.

    Perchance our Congrescritters, especially those exempt via TSA regulations, will decide to go through the same routine in a show of solidarity with the hoi polloi?

    John P. Squibob (882a08)

  26. What next? Security checks to get in the Interstate?

    Eventually, but next up, according to Napolitano:

    The next step in tightened security could be on U.S. public transportation, trains and boats.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says terrorists will continue to look for U.S. vulnerabilities, making tighter security standards necessary.

    “[Terrorists] are going to continue to probe the system and try to find a way through,” Napolitano said in an interview that aired Monday night on “Charlie Rose.”

    “I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  27. On the plus side, we’re all so enraged by the TSA stuff, the media is almost completely ignoring the feck-up with the Nigerian Banking Scam The AQ Imposter.

    The Departed (d027b8)

  28. “I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime. So, what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

    So much for enjoying taking the train.

    The fun part will be to see how they handle all the little stations that have – at best – one person, and the ones that have no one at all (stations with no ticket-sales).

    The Departed (d027b8)

  29. Dana

    See my update. i beat you to the punch.

    Demo

    Actually when all this started i leaned toward supporting this. But i have always respected those who object.

    But now i am seeing evidence it doesn’t, you know, work? if verified, i can’t support it then.

    The departed

    Well, for my part, i highlighted that story the other day.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  30. quibob

    i hope you are wrong about that kennedy thing. the man very clearly did breach the peace.

    Aaron Worthing (b8e056)

  31. From what I’ve read, there are at least three important possibilities that TSA Theater has no chance of stopping.

    1)a cavity bomb–meaning, a suicide bomber who packs his materials inside his rectum (or in female, inside her vagina)–whether he intends to explode them inside himself or take them out and do final assembly in the plane lavatory. The jihadis are already using this tactic overseas.

    2)terrorist attacks on the line of people waiting to go through security checks

    3)putting a bomb in the cargo, as was attempted a few weeks ago–and that was stopped mostly by humint with no input from scanning.

    kishnevi (127d58)

  32. When I drive to work there is a far better chance of being killed than there is of dying in an airline crash and even less odds of being in a plane taken down by terrorists.
    The US flies millions of flights a year and we haven’t had another incident since 9-11 but there were a couple of airline crashes.
    The scanners have not stopped one plot to date. The terrorists will regroup and try something different. Just as they realized people might fight back against box cutters they went to shoe bombers and underwear bombers. When they realized we were profiling Arabic looking people they started recruiting non-Arabics to strap something on.
    We have allowed our fear to take us into territory where we willingly give up dignity and freedoms for what? An illusion that we can guarantee protection from all risks?
    I would say the terrorists have accomplished some of what they intended – which is to make people live in fear.

    vor2 (802475)

  33. And as far as the rhetorical question about everyone… be careful what you ask for. next step may be compulsory k-12 training on “how to let people touch your junk” accompanied by charming video clips of the president and his cabinet in their skivvies, smiling and coughing as needed… /sarc

    vor2 (802475)

  34. They [Senators and Representatives] shall in all cases, except treason, felony and breach of the peace, be privilege from arrest during there attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same;…

    Since the TSA has no actual police powers, the scan/grope does not constitute any sort of arrest or search, and thus they shouldn’t be exempt.

    The Departed (d027b8)

  35. @A.W. I understand if your beef here is with the indignity of it all.. That is without question. But the larger issue here is stopping terrorism. And being groped by a gorgeous blonde TSA female official is not too high a price to pay to protect freedom and to save lives.. Friends, I am willing to swallow that bitter pill. ;)

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  36. Emperor,

    We lose some 30,000 people a year to drunk drivers. It is a terrible tragedy. Shouldn’t we spend unlimited amounts of money to stop this threat as well?

    vor2 (802475)

  37. Do you have an alternative proposal, vor2?

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  38. Exemptions? Okay!

    Profiling? Forbidden.

    I see the state gets to pick the winners and losers.

    Arizona Bob (e8af2b)

  39. Emperor have you ever traveled through a TSA check point?

    I doubt it if you say you are hopin’ for a gropin’ by a blonde female TSA agent.

    Can you honestly say that you have ever seen a “gorgeous blond TSA agent”?

    They look like a lot of things–but gorgeous and blonde they ain’t. They look tired; they look unhappy; they look like their only two career choices were the Post Office or the TSA–and the Post Office turned them down.

    Mike Myers (0e06a9)

  40. While I was in line, I overheard a TSA agent say (I’m paraphrasing, but this is very close) “as long as you don’t opt-out of the scanner, you don’t have to do anything weird”

    It’s clear that even TSA agents see the groping as a punitive action designed to encourage compliance with the scanner, rather than as a security measure.

    Daryl Herbert (501796)

  41. “If they want to get the American public on board and reduce some of the fury, the President would announce that anyone in his administration……”

    Dana – Remember that trip to Africa that Michelle and Barky made? They were both tested for AIDS yo show people not to be afraid of the tests, although Michelle may have had an ulterior motive for having Barky tested, you never know. So there is precedent for His Earness taking one for the team.

    daleyrocks (940075)

  42. Everyone knows that in a Republic, only the Little People are subject to the laws passed down by their betters.

    Wake me when the Revolution starts – everything I need is pre-positioned.

    AD-RtR/OS! (5a27ad)

  43. daleyrocks is such an evil man.. God forbid! Lmao!!

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  44. @Mike Myers.. One is allowed at least one fantasy a day… lol! But what if all those TSA agents were hot female pornstar-looking chicks… Will there be this level of outrage about indignity and all? Lol! 8) Methinks not.

    The Emperor (0ab629)

  45. Actually, this country already has a party that believes that CongressCritters sghould be subject to the same laws as the rest of us … and one party that likes to pass laws which exempt CongressCritters …

    3 guesses which is which ? (And even imdw should not need the other 2 guesses)

    The very first Bill of the 1995 Congress was this

    Excerpt – “Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 – Title I: General – Applies provisions of the following laws to the legislative branch: (1) the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA); (2) Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; (3) the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA); (4) the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA); (5) the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA); (6) the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA); (7) provisions regarding Federal labor-management relations; (8) the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 (EPPA); (9) the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN); (10) the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and (11) the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1995. “ – and then goes on to require that future legislation apply to the legislative branch …

    Isn’t that the way things *should* be done, all the time ?

    Alasdair (205079)

  46. > Yes, they have it backwards — only high officials are subject to the grope.

    Well, I do have it on good authority that, in some recent administrations, interns have not been excluded from it…

    :^P

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (9eeb86)


  47. What are the chances that an attack will come from the side of top ranking government officials versus from the masses? The Sec. of State, for example, is not likely to bomb an aircraft, is she? Unless security is no longer the priority. I think it’s a waste of time.


    Indeed — what are the chances that an attack is going to come from a little-old white-haired grandmother from Iowa?

    Yet she’s subject to the scan-or-grope rule, too.

    Sorta proves the point, don’t it?

    These laws are not being applied with a modicum of common sense central to the acts of any rational government. The solution is DUH-F’IN-OBVIOUS — profiling.

    IgotBupkis, President, United Anarchist Society (9eeb86)

  48. Like Aaron, I’m in principle willing to sacrifice a little temporary liberty for essential safety. But the first thing I want to know, before any other considerations, is that there’s a significant likelihood of my getting that damned safety. Then I can consider just how essential it is, and how much liberty is worth trading for it.

    But it’s been clear to me since even before 11-Sep-2001 that searching passengers for dangerous objects provides little or no safety. Checking ID doesn’t do all that much either, I don’t think. I’m with Bruce Schneier; the whole security theatre system is not only a terrible imposition on the public, but also a waste of billions of dollars that could have gone to measures that have some chance of actually stopping an attack.

    Now if the new regime did provide safety, would it be worth the price? I’m not sure. Personally I don’t mind being seen naked or being groped, especially if the groper is a good-looking guy; but most people feel much more strongly both about their modesty and their junk, not to mention being straight. And almost all parents feel very strongly that way about their children, even if the children themselves don’t; especially fathers about their teenage daughters. Husbands, I’m given to understand, tend to feel protective of their wives.

    And these feelings are fundamental, deep down where the desire for freedom of speech and movement, the freedom from being killed, stolen from, or raped, all reside. We’re down to what governments are instituted among men to safeguard us from; when our government starts doing those things to us it loses its right to exist in the first place. So to make this an acceptable exchange, we’d have to be getting one hell of a lot of essential and permanent safety.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  49. Do you have an alternative proposal, vor2?

    Yes, use reasonable measures such as metal detectors at entry points and bomb sniffing dogs in the luggage. Keep our Intelligence people on focus to identify the potential plots as they have been doing.
    The Israelis have a working model that has worked quite well over the years. I’ve had TSA screeners carefully look at a 10 pound book I was carrying around while travelling (was studying for a security certification) and ask me what it was about. I couldn’t see the book while I gave my answer. Good on him, he used some common sense.
    But first and foremost Americans have got to be realistic about risk and quit being so damned scared of the “what ifs”.
    As I mentioned earlier the terrorists adjust tactics once they see what measures we put in place.
    And as far as the scanners some of the same people who rail about the incompetence of the federal agencies don’t seem to care at all about “how” the scanners were bought. Michael Chertoff left his DHS position and became a paid shill for one of the companies. The technology was developed and ready to go – all they needed was one incident. The underwear bomber provided that. How many underwear bombers have the scanners caught some 10 million flights later? Zero. Could 350M have been better applied to our intelligence apparatus? I think it could have.

    VOR2 (c9795e)

  50. The much prettier Dana wrote:

    You’d think they’d have smartened up by now.

    No, I’m afraid I wouldn’t think that. I adjusted my expectation level when it comes to government, long ago.

    The realistic Dana (3e4784)

  51. Maybe having all that terrorism hysteria wasn’t such a good idea.

    imdw (8bb588)

  52. milhouse

    certainly if you are not getting safety out of it, then what are you getting?

    Warning: clicking on this link could give you severe psychological trauma.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  53. Maybe having all that terrorism hysteria wasn’t such a good idea.

    The hysteria was understandable in the beginning. But nine years later… I don’t get it.
    Now Napalitano is talking about putting scanners in bus and train stations.

    VOR2 (8e6b90)

  54. The airlines and TSA should make the free pass list as long as possible. All these terrorist acts have been done by muslim males between the ages of 19 and 45. Male islamists are the only people who should be searched. If a 6′ black man robs a bank, the police do not arrest and interrogate 5′ white women. That is not profiling; it’s law enforcement.

    One more thing, Congress would never pass a bill that gave these powers to TSA.

    Has anyone actually read the law [49 USC 114(e)] authorizing TSA search & seizures? If you look at their law enforcement authority, it says they need probable cause and a search warrant. This is exactly what the Fourth Amendment requires.

    Arch (24f4f2)

  55. I think all men who fly should emulate the following – maybe some women too…

    Horatio (55069c)

  56. Ogabe’s commitment to the EnviroNazis: Kill coal, oil and the airline industry.

    God damn Amerikkka! Allahu Akbar(flight stick thru the dash)!

    gary gulrud (790d43)

  57. The other philosophical discussion worth having is “how much freedom and/or dignity are we willing to pay for our security, and is there a diminishing returns relationship between the two?”

    Comment by Leviticus — 11/23/2010 @ 8:25 pm

    Yes.

    Another conversation might be: does the answer to that question depend on who is in power?

    And should it?

    Patterico (c218bd)

  58. search for the bomb (reasonably) and then focus on finding/detecting the bomber

    focus on the human element because the bomb doesn’t make or plant itself

    quasimodo (4af144)

  59. The Israelis screen without the crotch grabbing and nude scanners. They are bigger terror targets than we are.

    We need to do what they do. Not what we are doing now.

    The bottom line is this: We citizens ultimately DON’T have to put up with it and we won’t.

    SGT Ted (5d10ae)

  60. I traveled last weekend from a large west coast airport and had a unique experience demonstrating the mindlessness and stupidity of the new TSA pat down practice. I’m 55 years old, dressed in shorts and a loose fitting silk shirt. My 15 years old daughter is traveling as well only she is taking a different airline to the same destination because she is traveling with 11 other similarly young women as a sports team going to a tournament.

    TSA’s threat matrix decides that both of us get a pat down AFTER going thru the new imaging machines. I’d like to review the threats over the past 100 years that lead TSA to determine that a 55 year old man or a 15 year old women traveling with a sports team where a significant threat to airline safety.

    This is not security when people that present no known threat are physically searched and humiliated in one case while consuming limited TSA resources on a useless hunt for dangerous travelers on the other hand. In my case the security line already was taking 1 hour to clear.

    My junk was touched, repeatedly. My waistband was searched, my upper body was searched. I didn’t see what my daughter went thru but her words were she was similarly searched with the exception her genitalia wasn’t touched. Other girls on her team were also physically searched AFTER going thru the millimeter wave radar machines, ie full imaging.

    This is nonsense and serves no useful purpose. It’s also guaranteed to create hostility between citizens and their government. This is corrosive to a civil society when a government enforces clearly offensive rules on innocent citizens.

    Just for the record, neither my daughter nor I have ever been charged or convicted of any crime nor had any difficulty with airlines in our lives. Neither have we haunted jihadi websites, hate websites or anti-government websites. Nor have we engaged in any sort of public protests. Times are a changing.

    rb (ee3699)

  61. My objection to these new machines and the pat downs is that the screeners have no authority to do them. If you read the Fourth Amendment it doesn’t carve out travelers or TSA or terrorist situations. It’s written in plain English and says don’t touch my stuff.

    Amendment IV:

    “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    If the police come to my house and ask to search it, I have a right to see their search warrant and to know what they are looking for and why they think I have it. What is the difference in that civil right when I am standing in an airport?

    Arch (24f4f2)

  62. Another conversation might be: does the answer to that question depend on who is in power?

    And should it?

    Unfortunately it seems to depend on who is in power. But it shouldn’t.

    VOR2 (8e6b90)

  63. But the larger issue here is stopping terrorism.

    The scanners and the pat-downs will not stop terrorism. Not when a terrorist can stuff a bomb in his rectum and get through the scanner, or can detonate explosives in the receiving line.

    If the larger issue was stopping terrorism, they’d be investing wholesale in bomb-sniffing dogs, which are much more effective than the multi-million dollar scanners. But they aren’t, so the obvious conclusion is that they are simply lying about preventing terrorist attacks in order to justify increasingly draconian and ineffective security measures.

    Leviticus’ question about where we should consider the line to be drawn is an appropriate one. If we’re going to draw a line in the sand and demand that actual proactive, effective security measures are in place, instead of government policies justifying borderline sexual assault just to get on a plane (and soon, buses and trains), then it might as well be now.

    In the last ten years, we’ve been 100 times more likely to die in a car crash than in a terrorist attack in this country. Some of the quotes at this link put these policies in perspective better than I ever could:

    http://www.market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=173145

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  64. The relative rate of death between car travel and terrorism is not relevant. Terrorism has a different effect on people distinct from the randomness of car accidents and comparisons between the two are silly.

    The arguments against the TSA policies are their lack of effectiveness compared to their intrusiveness.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  65. I listened to an ex-El Al official on a local radio station and he believes the USA can easily adopt Israel’s screening methods. He staunchly believes that their effectiveness comes from a 2-3 minute eye-to-eye interview with every passenger (couples/families interviewed separately). Based upon their answers, the screeners are then able to spot any suspicious or potentially dangerous passengers.

    The important difference between their screeners and ours is that all of theirs must have college degrees, be multi-lingual, and go through a year of very intensive psychological/security/weapons training before even beginning the job. This is no entry-level position in Israel but a serious position with high levels of responsibility – and a well compensated position, too.

    The other major difference is: They are looking for terrorists, we are looking for objects.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  66. arch

    i think the official legal answer is that by seeking to get on the plane you are consenting to the search.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  67. Let’s see. Scanners etc. might soon be used to “allow” workers on commuter trains during rush hour in the nation’s largest cities?? That will work well, won’t it? That will stableize and encourage business investment. But, hey, if it’s to prevent terrorism…. And the US Government has got to protect it’s middle class and its high wage earners (taxpayers) don’t you know.

    elissa (c1306a)

  68. #66, That used to be the answer. They don’t have the right to search you without consent, but they do have the right to make your consent to the search a condition of boarding a plane. You always have the option of refusing the search and not boarding the plane. The Supreme Court said so as recently as John Gilmore’s case. But a few years ago they decided that you no longer have the option of not being searched and not boarding. As John Tyner found out, and as several people have found out before him, the TSA takes the attitude that once you’re in their screening area you’re a prisoner and they have the right to search you whether you like it or not. And it seems to me that the moment they did that they lost their legal cover.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  69. milhouse

    well, maybe then the answer is that if someone is fined, like tyner, then they challenge it in court.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  70. “Male islamists are the only people who should be searched. If a 6′ black man robs a bank, the police do not arrest and interrogate 5′ white women.”

    This is when you’re looking for a suspect? I’m not sure the analogy works.

    “i think the official legal answer is that by seeking to get on the plane you are consenting to the search.”

    I think it is more than a consent based search, since that would mean that you have the right to withdraw consent and walk away out of the airport. I don’t think this is the case. It may have elements of a special needs search, since it is concerned with security rather than law enforcement.

    imdw (017d51)

  71. Thank you for the details, Dana.

    A large part of the outrage, I think, is due to the knowledge that the Govt. is not committed to do the best in security, but to do the best in being PC while appearing to do security.

    This is another instance where I am confused as to what is stupidity, lack of information, or stubbornness. “Terrorist Profiling” per the Israelis is not based on skin color or name, at least not primarily, but somehow the idea of evaluating individual travellers according to perceived risk is immediately thrown into the “that’s discrimination” strawman argument that, “Well, not all terrorists need to be obviously Middle eastern Islamic males”- duh, we know that, the Israelis know that, and that is not what we are talking about. So, are the people like the TSA head purposefully acting ignorant, and for what reason, or are they really ignorant?

    MD in Philly (cac12c)

  72. How much trolling can a troll troll if a troll could keep trolling?

    Provided, of course, he isn’t being magically spoofed.

    Eric Blair (720ce1)

  73. Dana, that is a good post. They are looking for terrorists. We are, in the spirit of political correctness, looking at everyone.

    You would think we would have learned. Not so.

    Eric Blair (720ce1)

  74. MD, “Terrorist Profiling” works…I also like “Behavioral Profiling”, which is an entirely different animal than “Racial Profiling”.

    Unfortunately, any kind of profiling – no matter how much sense it makes and no matter how much it’s adoption might actually keep us safe – is verboten.

    So, are the people like the TSA head purposefully acting ignorant, and for what reason, or are they really ignorant?

    I can’t even give them credit for actually thinking this through from the ground up. I believe they started the process with the pre-supposition firmly locked in place that any profiling is unacceptable, wrong, immoral and discriminatory. And that is the jumping-off point.

    I also think from President Obama down to Napolitano to Pistole, believe they have the moral high ground in this and that this, along with making sure a certain group of the population is treated with kid gloves, is more important than the equal treatment of all passengers. Ironically this will result (and perhaps has already) resulted in an unintended discrimination toward the majority of passengers. While the public knows this, the administration is blinded by their own sense of moral superiority. And so it goes.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  75. The Dana from California recognized the real difference between the Israelis and us:

    The other major difference is: They are looking for terrorists, we are looking for objects.

    Because, of course, we wouldn’t want to offend any individual. It’s much better if we offend everybody, equally.

    The appreciative Dana (3e4784)

  76. Not merely offend, Dana, but inconvenience to the maximum extent possible, up to and beyond the point of destruction of the airline industry itself.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  77. Look, if you don;t want to be groped by TSA at the airport the solution is simple, just dress like a muslim. No TSA agent ids going to subject a muslim to that type of abuse, it would be racist or something. Don a khaffia or a burka for your next flight and see how much more accommodating TSA is.

    max (2f2a28)

  78. In one way they are consistent. They would prefer everyone equally poor rather than some poorer and others richer, even if the poorest were better off; likewise, everyone inconvenienced equally, even if it is less effective and more burdensome on everybody.

    So, if things progress to include other modes of mass transit, it will be easier to get across the US-Mexico border than to take a bus from Phoenix to Denver. Now how much sense does that make? Woops, wrong question, sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking?

    MD in Philly (cac12c)

  79. Well, MD, there you go: If you’re a terrorist, avoid planes and choose your preferred border state.

    It’s very hard to take President Obama, Napolitano and the TSA seriously when they are so lax about the borders. And that’s what makes this airport screening and body scanners little more than theater.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  80. Dana

    excellent point re: border security.

    But i will point out that a person sneaking into mexico by itself can’t easily take down the WTC. but the wrong guy on an airplane, could.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  81. And that’s what makes this airport screening and body scanners little nothing more than theater.</i

    FTFY

    SPQR (26be8b)

  82. AW, I give terrorist more credit: They could easily develop cells there, take their time in getting individuals across the border, hook up with cells already operating here in the U.S., etc.

    IOW, where there’s a will, there’s a way. And an open door (border) is an open invitation.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  83. i would love to hear Obama answer the question.

    “Why is it that we have to be subjected to invasive procedures like this if we wish to fly, but our border security is a joke?”

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  84. “But i will point out that a person sneaking into mexico by itself can’t easily take down the WTC. but the wrong guy on an airplane, could.”

    Dana’s getting two points mixed up. We apply this security to domestic flights. These aren’t border measures. They’re not meant to keep terrorists from traveling around the country.

    imdw (a863d5)

  85. imdw

    but there is an inherent contradiction of saying airplanes are going to have tight securty, but the borders will not. yes, airplanes pose a more immediate threat, but what if a terrorist just wants to come here and shoot up a mall a la mumbai?

    there are more ways to kill us than just planes.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  86. “but there is an inherent contradiction of saying airplanes are going to have tight securty, but the borders will not. yes, airplanes pose a more immediate threat, but what if a terrorist just wants to come here and shoot up a mall a la mumbai?”

    I don’t see how these are “contradictory.” TSA screening is aimed at one type of threat. This complements, rather than contradicts, other measures that are aimed at the same or other threats.

    Now, if your argument is that we spend too many resources on TSA type screening. Then that sounds correct. I think the resources match the hysteria, not the threat.

    imdw (a544ba)

  87. Aaron,

    Just so I’m clear – I think the borders need to be tightened up.

    But as for the mall scenario it is not just the border that makes us vulnerable to that risk. The availability of guns and targets makes it a risk. That is not to say the availability of guns is “bad” or should be overly restricted in keeping with the 2nd Amendment or that our malls become walled castles.. It is what our country is and wants.
    But just as the college shootings were terrible things there are some things that we just cannot provide 100% protection against unless as a country decide our basic freedoms are worth ceding to prevent what is statistically a very isolated threat.

    VOR2 (8e6b90)

  88. VOR2, the real defense to things like the mall scenario is a focus on identifying terrorists rather than screening for objects. Whether on aircraft or at the border or before the border (e.g., Afghanistan).

    That’s the point.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  89. SPQR,

    No disagreement whatsoever. That is why I asked the question before about where 350M for scanners might be better spent.

    VOR2 (8e6b90)

  90. Frankly, as a matter of principle, I think no law abiding American citizen should be subjected to the TSA scan and grope.

    Machinist (74634b)

  91. Sounds like they have been profiled out of the system.
    Either the testing is random or it isn’t.

    David (a4958f)

  92. I’m for a national identity card and a foreign persons card from a set list of nationalities and countries to be a prerequisite for entry and travel in the USA

    I’m for scanning and searching carryon bags

    I’m for limiting airlines ability to carry passengers and air cargo from a set list of foreign countries at the same time – no mixing arabian aircargo with passengers as an example

    I’m for armed trained security incorporated into the flight crews

    I’m not for over the top hysteria such as I heard yesterday on fox news radio

    EricPWJohnson (8a4ca7)

  93. Here’s an idea: Convert every border crossing with Mexico into an airport.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  94. No, imdw, I do not have two points mixed up.

    Please re-read both of my comments. It should be clear. Clue: Look for the irony.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  95. The question we should be asking is, are the terrorists happy with this new measure? Those it help or stop their murderous schemes? Think about the last December pant bomber when consider an answer for this question. If this measure was in place then, would he have made it into the plane? While we complain about the process, are our enemies happy about it?

    The Emperor (6308a0)

  96. does not those..

    The Emperor (6308a0)

  97. Just remember, Dana: it might not have been you actually posting.

    Seriously, who cares what that person writes? If it is that person writing, I mean.

    As for irony? Most trolls lack that particular element in their intellectual diet.

    Eric Blair (c8876d)

  98. The question we should be asking is, are the terrorists happy with this new measure?

    What an intellectually lazy argument. If you were required to strip naked and bend over in the terminal, would you be okay with it as long as it made the terrorists uncomfortable?

    Quite frankly, you have no logical or rational foundation for supporting this, other than you don’t want people criticizing your Golden Boy over it. I seriously doubt you’d be okay with this if Bush were still swaggering around the Oval Office.

    While we complain about the process, are our enemies happy about it?

    Our enemies are laughing their ass off because they don’t need to go through a security checkpoint to bring down an airplane. Napolitano actually had the gall to say that their security measures “worked” after the underwear bomber failed to set off a bomb that he had gotten through the security checkpoint.

    So when some terrorist tries to set off a bomb that he’s crammed up his backside, is she going to say that the measures “worked” then, too?

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  99. Comment by SPQR — 11/24/2010 @ 2:55 pm

    The Nation’s really gone off half-cocked over this, defending the TSA like they were a free abortion clinic. Amazing how leftists like these were completely against government interference in anything that went into or out of your pelvis (they merely supported said interference in all other walks of life), yet now defend low-level govt bureaucrats doing that very thing.

    Another Chris (2d8013)

  100. The real lunacy, Another Chris, is their drumbeat of the Koch conspiracy like they found the grassy knoll.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  101. SPQR–
    ==Drumbeat of the Koch conspiracy.==

    Yes, similar also to their lunatic earlier focus on Orly Taitz, a woman who no one but Dave Weigel ever even heard of– but Man!, was she ever painted as a powerful and dangerous influencer in Republican circles.

    elissa (c1306a)

  102. “Yes, similar also to their lunatic earlier focus on Orly Taitz, a woman who no one but Dave Weigel ever even heard of– but Man!”

    elissa – Heh. sort of like Brad Friedman’s ceaseless promotion of FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. Hey, she was only there a few months, but she can take down the whole government!!!!!!!

    daleyrocks (df87cd)

  103. She is certifiably insane, in Friedman’s book, that’s ‘a bug not a feature’ you have to cultivate
    that level of crazy, like an orchid

    narciso (82637e)

  104. “Yes, similar also to their lunatic earlier focus on Orly Taitz, a woman who no one but Dave Weigel ever even heard of– but Man!, was she ever painted as a powerful and dangerous influencer in Republican circles.”

    Was she ever painted as powerful and dangerous? I usually saw her painted as hilarious and buffoonish.

    imdw (e6d25a)

  105. On the initial topic of this thread–VIPs allowing themselves to be subjects of Security Theater–here’s someone who did just that in the pre-9/11 days

    Inevitable snark that she probably would find groping to be an unusual experience duly noted.

    kishnevi (3721d8)


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