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Transportation Stupidity Administration August 15, 2006

Posted by federalist in Regulation, Transportation.

Gotta love that TSA motto: “Vigilant, Effective, Efficient.”  Is this government newspeak an intentional allusion to 1984, or just a spooky self-satire?

Granted, the airport security charade has been amply criticized before.  But here we go again: overreacting to yesterday’s threat.  Terrorists dusted off an old plot to use liquid explosives and now we have passengers getting double-searched to ensure they aren’t carrying any toothpaste or lip balm onto a plane.

This is stupid.  If terrorists want to smuggle liquid explosives on board as passengers they can still do it.  They can flatten sealed chemical bags and either sew them into carry-ons or strap them tight to their body.  Is that woman really in her third trimester, or does she have 30 pounds of hermetically sealed plastic explosive molded around her breasts and stomach?  Only a stripsearch could tell for sure.

The billions spent harrassing commerical airline passengers only creates bigger targets on the ground.  The one thing that is actually keeping us safe is intelligence programs to find terrorists and disrupt their organizations and plans before they can strike.



1. federalist - August 19, 2006

Now here is a great response!

Ryanair today threatened to sue the government for compensation unless airport security measures are returned to normal within seven days.
Michael O’Leary, the outspoken chief executive of Ryanair, described the new restrictions as “farcical Keystone Cops security measures that don’t add anything except to block up airports”, as he issued the ultimatum.

Mr O’Leary ridiculed the notion of searching five- or six-year-old children and elderly people in wheelchairs going to Spain. Such scenes, he said, would have “terrorists laughing in the caves of Afghanistan”.

2. federalist - August 19, 2006

WSJ Editorial board addresses the question of profiling to focus scarce security resources.

On multiple occasions the federal courts have upheld programs that treat groups differently when a “compelling” public interest can be identified: affirmative action, minority set-asides, composition of Congressional districts, and the all-male draft have all met that legal test. Yet the same people who would allocate jobs, federal contracts and college admissions by race or ethnicity object to using them merely as one factor in deciding whom to inconvenience for a few minutes at an airline checkpoint. Surely aviation security is a far more compelling public interest than the allocation of federal set-asides.

Apparently not:

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff defended this policy of random searches on grounds that “if we become too focused on a particular profile, we’re likely to be dropping our guard precisely where the terrorists are going to be acting next.”

Hmm…. So after 9/11 we ban knives. After 8/10 we ban liquids. I guess this is government’s idea of looking ahead to the next threat?

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