Most people support airport security since they would prefer not to end up on an airplane that gets hijacked. But what people want is genuine security, not meaningless activity that attempts to disguise inconvenience as security.
Unfortunately, TSA, which supposedly stands for Transportation Security Administration, really means “tedious, slow, and absurd,” according to terrorism expert Chuck Pena. He writes:
One can only wonder what possessed TSA (and exactly whom at TSA) to decide that additional random screening at airport gates was a necessary – and effective – security measure. Although TSA claims that everything it does is for a reason, in the next breath the agency admits that the decision wasn’t because of a specific threat. Put another way: there’s no real or compelling reason for doing it. So while TSA asserts the purpose is not to hassle travelers, their own logic smacks of “because we can.” And because they can, protesting if you are one of the unfortunate random selections means TSA can choose to make your traveling experience less than pleasant – including making you miss your flight.
Anyone who flies regularly can remember the idiotic last minute random searches as you were boarding the plane. Thankfully, TSA dropped the policy after several years of making flying an ever less pleasant experience. But now the inspections are back, and with no explanation. Surely TSA owes passengers more than the claim that “we know what we are doing.” After all, that is manifestly untrue–why else do you have to show your boarding pass as you enter the security line and then when you exit, when all you’ve done is shuffle a few feet further along?
Is the initial screening inadequate? If so, TSA should fess up. But that seems unlikely. Notes Pena:
If vulnerability is the reason, then TSA has a lot of explaining to do. Travelers routinely practically disrobe going through airport security to get to their gate: taking off their shoes, removing coats and sweaters, making sure they aren’t wearing anything metal such as belts and jewelry, and separating laptops and liquids and gels (limited to no more than 3-ounce containers in a single quart-sized bag) from their carry-on luggage. Their bags then pass through X-ray inspection. Passengers walk through metal detectors. And they can be subjected to additional searches of their persons and effects. So despite this relatively intrusive security check, is TSA saying that airplanes are still vulnerable to hijacking? That possibility seems difficult to fathom when current security screening is combined with secure cockpit doors and the possibility of armed pilots.
And if the current process is inadequate, that presumably means that TSA left the U.S. vulnerable to attack for years when it dropped the random searches. True, TSA?
So what is it?
The time for TSA expecting travelers to behave like sheep, doing whatever they are told without explanation is over. Getting an explanation would be “change that we can believe in.” How about it, President Obama?
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