TSA: Hassling Passengers in the Name of Security - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
TSA: Hassling Passengers in the Name of Security

Anyone who travels recognizes that much of what goes on in the name of airport security is designed to demonstrate activity rather than ensure safety.  Show your boarding pass as you enter the security line and again as you pass through the metal detector.  Boy, that makes sense!

TSA has resurrected the awful random searches of passengers at the gates as they board the aircraft.  Reports the Associated Press:

Although the TSA follows a “risk-based approach” when adding security measures, TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding told the Associated Press that the move to restore random gate checks developed “as the agency evolved,” not because of a specific threat. The TSA collects intelligence from the FBI as well as state, local and national government agencies when forming new procedures.

Uselding said letters were sent to airlines last week informing them of the security change, although the new gate screening procedures have been in place for a couple of months. She would not say how many passengers or employees have been randomly stopped at gates, or how that figure has changed in recent years.

Because passengers at a certain gate are screened does not mean there is a specific threat to a particular plane, Uselding said.

She said signs at gates inform passengers that screening may occur. Uselding acknowledged that some passengers may see additional screening after a comprehensive search at a security checkpoint as unnecessary or annoying.

“Everything we do here at TSA is for a reason, it’s not made to make travelers’ lives a hassle,” she said.

These random checks were perhaps the worst, most inconvenient measures instituted after September 11.  They presumed that the rest of the security system had failed and meant that even after you had passed through everything else, you still could be pulled aside and forced to stand by as your personal items were spread about for everyone to look at.  And experienced travelers attempted to game the system–don’t board until the security personnel are busy, try to time your jump into the line to pass by before they would finish with their victim, etc.

If TSA is going to make the traveling experience markedly worse, it should explain what new threats have arisen.  Or was it ignoring serious threats in recent years after abandoning the random security checks?  What gives?

If the agency can’t answer these questions, then it will be apparent that the TSA is again putting appearance before reality.  And passengers will again pay the price through increased inconvenience.

Doug Bandow
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Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute.
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