David Freddoso: Time to abolish TSA as we know it
You're not alone if you have to think about your answer. Despite that, the airplane in question will not necessarily be safe.
This is how American aviation security works -- or rather doesn't work. In order to provide an illusion of security, we have made air travel impractical for nearly any trip that is less than a full day's drive.
If you are satisfied with this, then by all means let's put some new functionary in charge at the Transportation Security Administration without any further thought. If you see a problem here, then perhaps it's time to re-think everything -- including the TSA's existence as we know it.
We have learned much recently about post-9/11 airport security policies. We do not have a system that failed -- we have a system that is designed to fail. For example:
* As Jeffrey Goldberg demonstrated in a November 2008Atlantic Monthlypiece, anyone who can print out a fake boarding pass and carry a bottle labeled "saline solution" can enter our "secure" terminals with dangerous chemicals.
* Who can blame former Vice President Al Gore for using private jets after his experience in 2002, when he was given the full-body pat-down twice on a single trip to Wisconsin?
But, you might say, aren't these inconveniences, and TSA's $46 billion annual budget, just the price we pay for safety? Hardly, because we're not getting safety. A Nigerian man with documented terrorist ties, whose name was already on a watch list, known both to the British government and to ours as a threat, was given a visa and allowed to board a U.S.-bound plane wearing explosive underpants. Had he lit his drawers on fire in the bathroom and not in his seat, we'd be watching memorial services for 300 passengers today.
President Obama does not deserve all of the blame for TSA's sorry state. He does, however, have the opportunity to make things right. First, unionization of TSA workers should be out of the question, unless you want a court fight every time TSA tries to discipline or fire an incompetent employee.
Second, it's time for some creative thinking. Could our airports, as opposed to airplanes, beany less safe than they are right now, when a single bomb could take out hundreds of passengers concentrated in lines outsidethe security checkpoints?
Would we be any less safe from hijackings if, instead of trying to police acres and acres of airport space, we simply screen passengers and their carry-ons as they board?
These are just a few thoughts -- there must be hundreds of better ideas out there. But the point is simply that anything would be better than what we have now: Minimum security bought with maximum hassle.
David Freddoso is The Examiner's online opinion editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself.
They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone
under independence. -- George Washington
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