I’ve been debating whether or not to weigh in on the TSA screening controversy for much of the past week, I’ve stayed away from it mainly because I haven’t felt like I’ve had anything other than a vitriolic rant to add to the discussion.
Anyway, Gateway Pundit and The Other McCain are pointing out this transcript from CNN’s State of the Union this morning. It’s an interesting read and it’s worth commenting on in that TSA boss John Pistole admits his agency won’t adopt proven, effective screening methods because we don’t profile:
First lets take a look couple of quotes from Mr. Pistole’s interview with Candy Crowley:
“Yes. It’s clearly — it’s invasive; it’s not comfortable. It really comes down to what is that balance between privacy and security, and without profiling — people talk about, well, why don’t we profile? Of course we don’t do that here in the U.S., but we use all the latest intelligence. We have watch lists. We know about people who pose a threat to aviation security. It’s those we won’t know. And so it’s that balance between privacy and security.”
~ ~ ~
“Well, I think the Israeli model, which a number of people have talked about, uses intelligence in a different way, profiling. And then if in terms of a pat-down, if they suspect you of something, you receive a very thorough pat-down there.
That is top-notch security. The question is, do we profile here in the U.S.? No, we don’t. So how then do we use intelligence that informs the decisions and judgments. And given what we saw from last night in terms of this new Web publication that describes in detail how the cargo bombs were done, how the design concealed, and how they are using technology to disguise and defeat the screening mechanisms we have in place, look, it’s a difficult question, Candy.”
Now watch the video for the full context of the quotes:
Alright, the bottom line here is this is simple bureaucratic stupidity… The TSA won’t adopt proven, effective screening methods because of political correctness. As a result the TSA is subjecting cancer survivors like Thomas Sawyer and Cathy Bossi to invasive, degrading violations of their fourth amendment rights.
Lets be clear about something… The Fourth Amendment is about as unambiguous as you can get:
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.
This notion that the government can simply ignore the Constitution or compel us to waive our fourth amendment rights when buying an airline ticket is nonsense… I can’t find a single piece of case law to support it. Unfortunately, until the courts clarify the matter we’re stuck with these gross invasions of our person.
Anyway back to the topic at hand… Political correctness, this “We’re the U.S of A and we don’t profile” mentality is making us less secure. We have to be honest about the nature of the threat and design our screening systems to best identify potential security risks and stop them from getting on planes.
Using profiling dose not mean singling out all Muslims for addition scrutiny… it does mean assigning passengers to risk categories based on a variety of factors including age, gender, travel history, criminal record, known associations and yes, ethnicity. It means a 22 year-old foreign born student who has traveled extensively in Europe and the Middle east is going to be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny than a 70 year-old grandmother from Coffeyville, Kansas who travels to Atlanta once a year to visit her grandchildren for the holidays. It means using a little commonsense.
It also means recognizing the technology is not a panacea… Ahmed Ressam, the Millennium Bomber, wasn’t caught by technology, or good intelligence for that matter. He was caught because a law enforcement professional, U.S. Customs inspector Diana Dean, looked him in the eye, asked him questions and based on her training, experience and intuition decided something wasn’t right and had a secondary Customs search of Ressam’s car performed.
Which brings up another point, the TSA has to change it’s focus from things to people… If you want to catch bad guys you need to look them in eye and ask questions. Keeping weapons and explosives off planes is all well and good, but it’s only half the battle… Keeping the bad guys off planes is the other half. Lets not forget at least some of the 911 hijackers did dry runs before the actually attack.
Edit: I should add, I think Congressman Ron Paul’s proposed “American Traveler Dignity Act” is a good idea. If police officers can be held civilly and/or criminally libel for negligence or misconduct in the performance of their duties so can TSA agents.
Congressman Paul’s proposed legislation is simple:
It establishes that airport security screeners are not immune from any US law regarding physical contact with another person, making images of another person, or causing physical harm through the use of radiation-emitting machinery on another person. It means they are subject to the same laws as the rest of us.
I doubt Rep. Paul’s legislation gain much traction, but if ever there was a chance to rein in the TSA this it. James Poulos sums things up pretty well:
My problem with what’s unfolding at our nation’s airports runs a lot deeper than the misfortune of genital encroachment. My problem is that we’re racing down an inherently absurd road. Set aside for a moment the dismaying way in which every new advance in security measures involves a retreat for civil liberties and traditional definitions of decency. Our logic of escalation appears to mean that every new solution actually creates a new and dramatically worse problem — one which calls, of course, for dramatically more invasive and comprehensive countermeasures.
Where does it end? As a matter of logic, it ends with a free people dehumanizing themselves in a way their own enemies cannot quite manage to do. Fortunately, we are not prisoners of logic. But the awful thing about terrorism is that it very well might keep us prisoner to fear.
Exactly, Benjamin Franklin said it best “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
- How Israelis secure airports – Michael J. Totten, New York Post
- TSA could have chosen a less intrusive screening machine – Tony Pugh, McClatchy Newspapers
- The T.S. of A takes control – George Will, Washinton Post
- The Things He Carried – Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic
- Pilots and passengers rail at new airport patdowns – Reuters
- Get your hands off me, TSA! – Jennifer Abel, The Guardian
- GOP lawmaker: Full-body scanners violate Fourth Amendment – The Hill
- Analyst: TSA methods ‘will kill more Americans on highway’ – The Hill
- Will Turkey Day Fliers Cry Foul? – Wall Street Journal
- TSA chief admits he withheld information on pat-downs – Tony Pugh, McClatchy Newspapers
- Security and Terrorism Expert Bruce Schneier: TSA Scans “Won’t Catch Anybody” – Popular Mechanics
- TSA, 2 ; America, 0 – Richard Kanto, American Thinker
- TSA workers face verbal abuse from travelers – Harriet Baskas, MSNBC.com