The Terrorists Have Won!

While the controversy over full body scans and sexually-invasive pat-downs by the TSA is intriguing, it masks the greater question — competence and the ability to find and deter terrorists. Today, the TSA is treating everyone as a suspect or criminal while failing to focus on the group most likely to produce potential terrorists due to “political correctness.” TSA, by having agents effectively “feel-up” small children, handicapped grandmothers, even even a Roman Catholic Nun, as shown in recent news footage, has now brought the real problem to light – the agency hasn’t a clue on how to keep travelers safe and has become a show rather than substance.

The problem is that the TSA doesn’t believe it should profile — as it would be politically incorrect to target Muslims. While not all Muslims are terrorists, all of the alleged 9-11 terrorists and more recent terrorist attempts have been by Muslims. We know the group of people that is attempting to wage Jihad against the United States, but don’t seem to want to take action against them as extra scrutiny might seem insensitive.

And, by the way, the shoe bomber and underwear bomber both originated overseas, not in the US. The threat of a terrorist at most US airports is virtually nil, and would be even less so if INS would remove illegals.

True motives?

The TSA claims there is no connection between stepped-up, invasive searches and a desire to get everyone to go through the body scanners. Then explain this:

  • There has been no increase in the security alert;
  • It has taken nearly a year since the Christmas underwear bomber to increase the severity of the pat-down searches; these could have been implemented the same day, but weren’t; and
  • Europeans don’t undertake invasive pat-downs when travelers opt out of the body-scanners; why do we do this in the US?

The conclusion is obvious: the TSA wants to make pat-downs so unpleasant that people will find it less invasive to go through the body-scanners.

If you want a system that works, emulate Israel. Airport security there is efficient and effective — because they profile for terrorists. So rather than do the hard work necessary to detect problems and not make innocent Americans feel like criminals, TSA takes the easy way out – assume everyone guilty before being proven innocent and subject loyal citizens to humiliation while skipping potential terrorists for political correctness. Just wait until the first Muslim sues for being subjected to a “feel-up” after refusing a body scan — TSA will easily concede the case on politically correct discrimination grounds but continue aggressive behavior for the rest of us. With a lame duck Congress, we may need to wait until January for some intelligent action. And meanwhile, how about the apparent conflict of interest regarding the backscatter machines?

The new body scanning machines, which utilize backscatter radiation, raise legitimate concerns on two fronts. The first is health, as many folks don’t want any additional radiation, and while TSA says the machines are safe, they haven’t provided the studies to back their claims. The second is privacy, as a website currently available is showing 10,000 different images from airport scanners that the agency said would be private, not saved, and certainly not distributed. Well, how did they show up on the Internet? And why did a TSA employee “go postal” recently when his co-workers commented on his “small package” after going through a machine? The facts speak for themselves — your naked image could soon be on the Net if you use the machine, as well as potentially have health problems later.

Opting out of the machine is a legitimate and reasonable choice given what has happened. But this is not what the TSA wants – so their policy is to humiliate those who “opt-out” through invasive searches, including reaching down ones pants that has could result in a new flag with “Don’t Touch My Junk” as its motto. The invasiveness of these searches without probable cause violates everything that we once held dear in American, apparently now legal because of the Patriot Act. Maybe it is time for a repeal to bring “Big Sister” back to reality.

The real question is what impact this will have on the airline industry and the millions who depend on it for their livelihoods. Several folks I’ve spoken with have decided to drive rather than fly for the holidays, some 12 hours away for whom a flight would be easier. Why? They don’t want to be the subject of a “porno scan” nor “felt-up” at an airport. While those who have to fly for business won’t change plans, leisure travelers may. And with airline profits typically 1-2 seats per flight, any decrease could cause the recovering industry to slip back into losses.

There is a call for an opt-out day on the busiest single travel day of the year – the day before Thanksgiving – that could slow airports and screening to a crawl. I can’t think of a better response for those turkeys at TSA for instituting overreaching new procedures just in time for the holidays.

There is a process for airports to opt-out of having TSA scanners and hire their own. Perhaps the airlines and ATA need to begin putting pressure on airport authorities to take back the process from what appears to be an incompetent and ineffective government agency.

Information technology and profiling could provide a cost-effective method for increasing security without the nonsense that now exists.

No sense of humor

We’d love to see men “put a sock in it” and watch the reaction of TSA agents when they meet “resistance” or passengers secrete dildos or vibrators for discovery by TSA–but they have no sense of humor.

We don’t use this term lightly, but these Gestapo tactics are not what America is about.

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