A Radical Proposal for Airline Security

It's time to abolish the no-fly list

If a job not worth doing is going to be done anyway, better for it to be done well than badly. So the Transportation Security Administration deserves credit for its Secure Flight program, aimed at curbing mistakes on its no-fly list. The American Civil Liberties Union, likewise, warrants praise for suing on behalf of travelers who were wrongly snared.

But there is a better option that would eliminate this problem, as well as others: Get rid of the no-fly list entirely. For that matter, get rid of the requirement that passengers provide government-approved identification just to go from one place to another.

Americans have a constitutionally protected right, recognized by the Supreme Court, to travel freely. They also have the right not to be subject to unreasonable searches and other government intrusions. But in the blind pursuit of safety, we have swallowed restrictions on travel and infringements on privacy we would never tolerate elsewhere.

The no-fly list is a punishment in search of a crime. As Richard Sobel, a director of the Cyber Privacy Project and a scholar at Northwestern University, points out, it inflicts a penalty without a trial or any other form of due process.

The TSA doesn't say what it takes to get on the list, and it doesn't make it crystal clear how to get off. If it acts in an arbitrary or malicious way, the victim has little recourse except appealing to the agency's better angels.

But the whole idea behind the list doesn't make much sense. Supposedly, we have hundreds or even thousands of U.S. residents who are too dangerous to be allowed on a plane—but safe enough to be trusted in all sorts of other places (subway trains, sports venues, shopping malls, skyscrapers) where someone carrying a bomb or a gun could wreak havoc.

If those on the list are truly dangerous, the government should arrest and prosecute them, with their guilt decided by courts. If they are not dangerous enough to arrest, they should have the same freedom to travel as everyone else.

We don't prohibit all ex-convicts from flying. How can we justify barring people convicted of nothing?

But there is a broader problem. If the federal government began requiring every citizen to provide identification for each trip in a car or ride on a bus, there would be a mass uprising. Somehow, though, Americans have come to see commercial air travel as a privilege to be dispensed by the government.

It was not always so. Not so many years ago, Sobel notes, you could show up without a reservation or a ticket at Washington's National Airport (now Reagan National Airport), walk onto the hourly shuttle to LaGuardia, take a seat and pay your fare in cash. No one knew who you were, and no one cared.

But in 1995, Washington mandated that all travelers show government-approved identification before boarding a flight. The freedom to travel without federal permission was gone. The no-fly list further limited that liberty.

After 9/11, the requirement served the purpose of helping keep violent fanatics off airliners. What no one seems to notice is that other improvements in security have made this one a needless burden.

The government required airlines to install reinforced cockpit doors to keep hijackers from taking the controls. It tightened security rules—banning penknives, lighters, ski poles, snow globes, and liquids except in tiny bottles.

It initiated random pat-downs of travelers and gave extra scrutiny to those who did suspicious things. It deployed thousands of armed air marshals.

Equally important, travelers changed their mindset, meaning that terrorists can no longer count on passive victims. On several occasions—starting with United Flight 93 on 9/11—passengers have acted to foil attacks.

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  • Suki||

    Good morning reason!

    I am surprised he left out this handy interactive diagram.

  • Tim||

    The Truth never sleeps, and neither does Suki.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    This just in: Reason contributor calls for arrest of all U.S. citizens currently on no-fly list.

  • Rich||

    If those on the list are truly dangerous, the government should arrest and prosecute them, with their guilt decided by courts.

    Hell, just arrest *everybody*! Let's get this settled once and for all. And, this approach would have the added benefit of creating many jobs.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    When they let us out, will they consider us rehabilitated and take us off the no fly list?

  • Pre-emptive Troll||

    Libertards. Ron Paul. Cock jokes. Edward. Narcissism. Thank you.

  • tarran||

    Hell, in the 60's some airline was advertising that they had special gun racks so that passengers bringing their rifles into the cabin had a safe (to the rifles) place to put them.

    After shootouts between inebriated passengers downed 4 aircraft, the FAA wisely ended the practice.

  • ||

    Cite?

  • ||

    shootouts with rifles? scoped or unscoped?

  • tarran||

    For the humor impaired, the first paragrap is true, the second is snarky falsehood.

    I can't link to the ad since I saw it in one of my grandfather's old magazines from the era. The ad was an attempt to get hunters flying to the pacific northwest on hunting trips to fly on the airline by advertising their hunter-friendly amenities.

    Guns were banned from aircraft not due to safety concerns or because of an outbreak of violence, but as a knee-jerk reaction to the DB cooper incident.

  • Death Penalist||

    The DB Cooper incident is why I called for the outlawing of currency on commercial flights. No one listened, and now look where we are.

  • IceTrey||

    Dan Cooper (not DB) used a bomb.

  • ||

    tarran, I haven't seen the add you're referring to but I have a book on hunting from the late fifties that has a chapter on travelling to distant places to hunt. The author recommends that if he is flying somewhere, a hunter should book an extra seat if he can afford it so that they will have a safe place for his rifle.

  • yojimbo||

    Instead of walking through medal detectors and all that they should have people stand in an armored box with their bags. When they walk in the door closes and there is a mechanism that detonates any bomb that might be on that person. Problem solved.

  • ||

    Caption Contest!

    "Is this how you check if they're still breathing? I thought it involved a mirror somehow..."

  • DMXRoid||

    FWIW, they don't actually stop you from flying if you don't have government ID. If you HAVE government ID, and refuse to show it, they can refuse you entry into the plane area, but if you straight don't have it, they still have to let you in. Their methodology for verifying passengers w/out ID has changed over time. From 2001-2008ish, you could just roll up to the ticket taker and declare that you wanted to fly as a "selectee" because you had no ID, and then they'd give you the super search, and send you on your way. Since sometime in '08, they've started filling out some fairly invasive questionnaires on you before they let you go through, but the point is, you still don't have to show ID. Upside is that you get to lecture TSA employees about the nature of freedom and the right to travel unimpeded by the state.

    So, the TSA makes everyone go through all that shit, except for the people who don't want to. Smart, huh?

  • ||

    A few years back (it may have been 2002 or 2003) I got a great laugh overhearing a conversation at the ticket counter. A guy (30-ish?) couldn't get his tickets because he didn't have any ID. He thought it was OK because his mom was there to vouch for him.

    This wasn't a security issue, just a simple are-you-really-the-person-who-prepaid-for-this issue. I'm sure he also would have had trouble getting past security - especially in those days.

    But I just had to laugh at the cluelessness of somebody thinking they could walk onto an airplane without any form of ID whatsoever.

    Back then I didn't think about what it meant for freedom. Personally, if TSA didn't require ID, some airlines still would, and I would prefer them. I think the market would, too, because the bulk of the security nuisance is the scan-your-person-and-stuff part, not the show-ID part. And again, I would self-select the airline that did a little extra for safety.

    If you want to travel anonymously, you can walk, drive, or take a train or bus. Or fly on the theoretical we-don't-do-anything-to-ensure-your-safety-from-other-passengers airline. Not being able to fly doesn't mean you're restricted from traveling.

  • wolfgang||

    For those of you who feel encumbered or inconvenienced I have a suggestion to you. Don't Fly! It is that simple.
    Take a train, the bus, a boat, or rent a car and drive yourself (or even have someone drive you); go anyway you choose to get you where you need to go, just don't get on an airplane. I know it's a hassle and sometimes people are treated unfairly just because they want to travel by air, but guess what? Welcome to the 21st century.
    Unlike all of the other modes of transportation available, flying has the greatest susceptiblity to be sabotaged and destroyed. Additionally, the odds of surviving a sabotaged airborne plane are next to none. You cannot jump from a 35,000 ft. high jet and survive like you can jumping from a moving train, car, or boat.
    So if it means a little delay and discomfort to keep some whack job from boarding an airplane. I am all for it. The little bit of sacrifice is worth my life and the lives of all the people on the plane.
    Oh and Suki, I know you are trying to be funny, but that is the same attitude everyone had on September 10th, 2001. Things changed the next day and airline security is no joke.

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    "Things changed the next day and airline security is no joke."

    It is when the unionized TSA workers dick around (They literally stood and stared at us) while 300 hundred people waited to enter the international terminal at Washington National when I flew 2 weeks ago. Some people missed their fucking flight because of those lazy bastards, their poorly maintained security equipment, and their convenient full body scans of the hottest women in line.

  • TSA Dick||

    Sir, I'll have to ask that you step over here ...

  • TSA Dick #2||

    Is this your bag? Can you open it? No?

    Uhhhhh..... Now what do I do?

  • Drax the Destroyer||

    300 hundred = 300. Goddamnit, no sleep make Drax more stupid than usual.

  • Jefferson||

    They should deregulate this shit so that everyone can make their own decisions. Wolfgang can fly El Al or Anal Probe Air or whatever makes his pussy ass feel safer. I'll fly Freedom Air where we can have a 3rd cocktail.

  • wolfgang||

    Yeah right Jeff,
    And as soon as the flight you are on has any type of problems, whether terrorist related or not, you would be one of the first people screaming "Save me, Save me, don't let me die."
    A "MAJORITY" of people in this country do not mind the extra hassle to keep them safe in the air. Like I said, you have a choice to use this mode of transportation or not. So stop being a whiny little bitch; you sound like a liberal.

  • jacob||

    Actually you kind of sound like the whiny bitch.

    "Help me Obama Help me! I need you to stop the bad guys!"

    And tell me again how showing your government ID stops terrorism? Did it work on Sept. 11th?

  • HERP DURP!||

    Haha! You're a dipshit.

    In other words you think a majority of Americans are pussies who require having an underpaid TSA Agent jam his prying hands up peoples' anuses, something you enjoy, no doubt. That and the fact these mongoloids are probably jerking off to the naked body scans of your kids, let alone your wife.

    Of course, most women wouldn't date pussies. So you shouldn't worry about the scanners much, let alone mind the chuckles as you pass through one.

    http://www.kmov.com/news/natio.....18169.html

    http://voices.washingtonpost.c.....recru.html

  • ||

    "Unlike all of the other modes of transportation available, flying has the greatest susceptiblity to be sabotaged and destroyed."

    Completely disagree. Blowing up a car on a full train and derailing it would be much more destructive. I'm not sure why terrorists haven't set their sites on Amtrak or subways (they did it once in London on the tube, so I guess they've thought of it).

  • ||

    Nobody rides trains in the US. They blow up/sabotage trains in India (and Spain) all the time. As far as the rest of western europe, I guess they just can't be bothered?

  • ||

    Yes, but derailing a train travelling through a built up urban area, even at low speed, could be terribly destructive.

    Even if it were only a freight train, there are enough lines through relatively residential areas that qiute a few laves could be taken as well.

  • ||

    "laves" should, of course be "lives ".

    Also, derailed train could have bonus destructive power if there are a few cars with propane or so other fuel present. See also, chlorine, frequently transported since it is used in large quantities in water treatment.

  • LarryA||

    Derailing a train also completely blocks that route of travel until all the debris is cleaned up. Even maintenance can block a line. Pretty much every other means can detour.

  • wolfgang||

    Adam,
    You do have a point but the fact remains that if you had to bail out of a moving train, you would have a better chance of surviving than bailing out of a flying plane (remember they don't hand out parachutes at the gate).
    Additionally, I have never seen accounts of a passenger train accident where all the passengers were killed. I have seen several where that has happened from an airplane crash.

  • wolfgang||

    Also the Islomofacists are not interested in something so mundane as a simple rail accident. They are into the shock and awe factor going after high visibility targets. Not something as mundane as a train or bus.

  • Old Man With Candy||

    Ever get on a boat? Metal detectors, xrays, the whole bit. I don't know if they have that machine which takes pictures of your willy through your clothes, but if not, that's certainly next.

  • ||

    I went through one of those (full body scanner) because I got repulsed by being pawed by TSA (I have an artifcial hip joint).

    Got pawed anyway because TSA scan readers could not determine that an artificial hip joint looks like a antique Seneca War Club. They thought it was a weapon.

    It's a good reason why you may want to hire semi-intellegent help.

  • wolfgang||

    Old man,
    If this is true then I applaud the maritime industry for taking a proactive step and not relying, like most government agencies, on crises management.
    Look, I am for free and independent living, God knows we have entirely too much government around the world. But this is the one area where government has a direct and vital responsibility to protect the citizenry. No one likes to be hassled and gov't bureaucrats are probably some of the laziest people on earth, but if any of you posting here has a better idea I would love to hear it.
    Whether we like or it not, Islamofacists are out to destroy western civilization. We are the great Satan and the problem of the world. So the only way to satiate these bozos is to either become an Islamic extremists like they are, or simply be eradicated. I would like to live, so although I don't like it, I will put up with the hassles and the infringement on my civil rights for the safety of myself and my fellow citizens.

  • ||

    Here's an idea going back many centuries: Innocent until proven guilty. How about every body gets the benefit of the doubt they deserve, and we deal with problems if and when they arise. All these government regulations didn't stop the Christmas Eve bomber... only his shoddy workmanship prevented a catastrophe that day.

    I don't know how you can claim to be for "free and independent living" and in the next paragraph say "I will put up with the hassles and the infringement on my civil rights for the safety of myself and my fellow citizens."

    No amount of regulations is going to prevent EVERY instance of terrorism or violence. And there's also no evidence suggesting that this many regulations curb terrorism attempts. All this is really doing is infringing on the freedoms of the populace.

  • jacob||

    +1

  • Bastiat||

    It would be one thing if citizens were unable to fly sans gov't ID purely due to a market response.

  • gobbledygook||

    I recall someone involved with the Israeli air security saying something along the lines of "you look for weapons, we look for terrorists".

    I cannot think of an incident involving a terrorist on a plan that did not involve an Arab male between 18 and 40 years of age, and I cannot think of an incident that did involve a Caucasian female over the age of 65.

    However it is Politically Incorrect to search the Arab male and perfectly acceptable to strip search an old white lady.

    God I hate lawyers.

  • ||

    I cannot think of an incident involving a terrorist on a plan that did not involve an Arab male between 18 and 40 years of age,...

    I don't seem to be able to find a source for it, but I seem to recall a story a few years ago where a Palestinian guy got his English or Irish girlfriend to carry a bomb for him. She was caught, but, again, IIANM it was due to something other than airport security.

  • Joe||

    Your assertion is true AFAIK if you change "Arab male" to "Muslim male," but of course not all Muslims are Arab.

    Richard Reid ( the "shoe bomber") is of British/Jamaican heritage, and Abdulmutallab (the Christmas Day bomber) is African (Nigerian). That's not to mention the various Afganis and Pakistanis (also not Arabs) who have attempted attacks on the West.

  • gobbledygook||

    You can't profile based on religion, but you can profile based on race.
    Well, if the lawyers let you that is.

  • West Texas Boy||

    I recall someone involved with the Israeli air security saying something along the lines of "you look for weapons, we look for terrorists".

    This is quite correct.

  • IceTrey||

    Sure El Al has like 30 flights a day. The US has 30,000.

  • Van||

    In addition to looking for weapons our government employees use their imaginations to identify threats, and they use their imaginations to develop requirements and procedures for security systems. That is why each and every passenger is regarded as a potential terrorist. In the world of your imagination, anyone could be a terrorist.

    In addition the government has long regarded the public as an irrational herd that needs to be controlled rather than a rational citizenry that can be trusted to act on its own.

    In Israel, security is handled by people familiar with actual police work.

  • ||

    I cannot think of an incident involving a terrorist on a plan that did not involve an Arab male between 18 and 40 years of age

    If you limit your scope to terrorism on planes, you're probably correct, but terrorism in general knows no nationality solely, or was Timothy McVeigh wearing a white guy disguise?

  • ||

    And I realize "plan" is a mispelling of plane and I feel dumb, sigh

  • gobbledygook||

    I limited my scope to planes because the article is about air travel.

    You mention McVeigh. Do his actions justify strip searching little old ladies?

  • Nope||

    Obviously, every man should have his every cavity searched. Men are the reason for every ill known to mankind.

  • ||

    I think counter-terrorism needs more nuance from trained police/military and less bumbling bureaucratic procedures executed by high school dropouts. I reject the premise that brown people are the only ones to look out for, but patting down grandmothers is equally ineffective.

  • gobbledygook||

    I reject the premise that brown people are the only ones to look out for

    Who said "only"? Other than that I agree that we should use intelligent people to find terrorists instead of using retards to find weapons.

  • ||

    I took a flight way back in the late 60's, early 70's, so I must have been about 10-12 years old, from Switzerland to somewhere in Europe. They made everyone, even little girls like me, go into a booth in the check-in area and undress down to their undies. Females got a scary matronly older woman as "inspector" and I don't know what the men got. I will never forget the perplexed looks on my parents' faces. So have things gone downhill, really? Since then I have taken the trans-Atlantic route upwards of 160 times, and no inspection procedure has bothered me a bit except picking up toe-fungus from taking my shoes off and walking in the same narrow path through the security bin area as thousands of other people. But I am convinced the reason I haven't been blown up yet is the same as why my house hasn't been burglarized: They haven't gotten around to it yet.

  • ||

    Ahh, the old Timothy McVeigh red herring. That was actually an Iraqi operation. McVeigh was the fall guy. The FBI willfully ignored loads of evidence dropped into their lap that would have enabled them to round up the whole gang before they left the country. But even back then, it was so very un-PC to accuse Muslims.

    Yes, it is possible for an Islamic terrorist to be a cacasian, and we have certainly seen this in places like Chechnia. But this is so far the very rare exception. Israel has absolutely the right approach in terms of profiling national origin, ethnicity, and above all behavior vs putting every passenger through the onerous cattle chute/scanners/wanding/strip search that we have to endure now.

    The problem is, back when the TSA was created, they suddenly needed to hire 30,000+ new screeners. I have a friend who worked for the company that did all the pre-hire interviews for those positions. He told me that most of the people they interviewed were as dumb as a box of rocks. As a rule, they had no skilled job experience of any kind, they were semi-illiterate, they were poorly educated, undisciplined, slovenly, and did not bother to dress up even a little bit for the interview. And yet these are the people who got hired.

    The people calling the shots in TSA are apparently not much smarter. Or maybe they are smart enough that they are very well aware of the marginal intelligence level of their average screener, and that is why they will not allow them any latitude whatsoever to exercise judgement on their own. Thus, we end up with screeners shouting "gun!" when they see a plastic GI Joe doll with a little plastic gun, or taking 90 yr old WWII hero Joe Foss' congressional medal of honor away from him because they consider it a "weapon".

    If anyone in TSA actually cared, the problem could still be remedied. First, put all current TSA screeners through an aptitude test, and fire or transfer any that cannot pass it. Hire additional ones the replace those who could not make the grade. Then have the best agents from the Customs Dept conduct an intensive training course in customs tradecraft. This is a process that would take time, but in the end it would work and would be well worth it. Then and only then, we could begin to get away from the cattle chute approach and zero in on the ones who fit the profile. I don't expect that to happen, because TSA doesn't give a rat's a** how much they inconvenience the traveling public.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Tim McVeigh is the liberal's Willie Horton.

  • Tim||

    Interesting, do you suppose that IF they ever build that American Bullet train that there'll be a list of Americans who can't ride it?

  • ||

    And while we are at it, let's get rid of the silly prohibition on pocket knives. Would love to have it handy is someone want to light their shoe or panties on fire.

  • West Texas Boy||

    Anybody been to Europe lately?

    Fly internally in the EU and they'll wave you through the security line like it was 1965 in America.

    Fly internationally (except for the U.S.) and they might be a bit more thorough, but you can keep your shoes on.

    Fly to the U.S. and the nice European apparatchiks turn on their inner Staz: separate security lanes, shoes and belts off, removing every single piece of electronic equipment from your bags.

    And they don't do it to catch the bad guys, they do it because the TSA forces them to and local government doesn't want to piss off Washington and get punished in some other area.

    But damn, I felt so much safer!

  • George V||

    Yes, but can they find seeds when returning from Amsterdam???

  • IceTrey||

    The passengers on Flight 93 didn't foil the attack. The terrorists did take over the plane and crash it.

  • ||

    That wasn't the goal of the attack. They were heading for DC, presumably attempting to hit the Capitol or other high-value target.

  • ||

    I was hoping that all the writers at Reason.com had a good deal of intellect - that is apparently a bad assumption on my part.

    Yes, as freepersons we have the right to travel within our borders freely. You are free to walk, ride your bike, drive your car, even take public transportation. That freedom to travel about the country unrestricted ends where private business begins.

    Once you transition from your own personally owned vehicles and gov't transportation - your travel then becomes a priviledge instead of a right. The airlines, just like any business, can refuse service to you for any reason they can come up with. And they can enforce ridiculous requirements that you must abide by or you will be refused service. Sure it's a fine line in what they can or will do depending on it's impact on their revenue.

    Being federally regulated doesn't make it a federal transportation - I would avoid any gov't owned/operated airline even if it were the last form of transportation on the planet and I had lost the use of my legs.

    I do not agree with harassing US citizens for the false sense of security. Hands-down I would want every single non-US citizen subjected to thorough screening, when entering the country at any port and every time they fly or use public transportation while in the US. Leave US citizens alone!

    Even leaving US citizens alone might become dangerous as we've seen a couple US citizens attack our own on our very soil - and still radical muslims are coming here when their pregnancy is due so they can have anchor babies. They then train those US citizens to be radical islamic militants. We need to end the birthright citizenship for children of non-citizens IMMEDIATELY!!

  • ||

    TSA restrictions are mandated by the federal government, not by private airlines, hence the outrage here. If a carrier hypothetically decided to offer no-TSA flights, without any of the bullshit restrictions and procedures, they'd be the country's most popular airline overnight.

  • ||

    yes the TSA crap is crap and is mandated by federal gov't - however we cannot declare that we have the right to unrestricted air travel in the US. Doing so assumes that the private business running the airline has no control over their own business.

  • ||

    Have a free clue: the private business running the airline already has no control over their own business by virtue of the fact that they're forced to comply with the TSA's bullshit.

    In other words, but for the TSA's bullshit, we would have a right to unrestricted air travel in the U.S., subject to ordinary contractual arrangements between carriers and customers.

    Pull your head out of your ass, please.

  • ||

    Maybe I don't fly enough, but I disagree. Since I'm *choosing* to fly, I can also *choose* to surrender some liberties for that exchange, even if they aren't mandated, and I will choose the airline that has the "best" method of keeping dirtbags from blowing up the plane. I'm not sure if I know what that method is...surely the current methods are almost worthless...but I don't consider the additional screening time to be that big a hassle. IMHO if the screening is effective, it's worth the tradeoff.

    Remember that most of the country is not as committed to Libertarian ideology...and that's OK. I think only the people who fly constantly for business would prefer the no-screening flights.

  • Bastiat||

    There is currently no "no-holds-barred" (i.e. market-based) test for selecting "the 'best' method of keeping dirtbags from blowing up the plane" because there is no diversity in approaches, only the government-mandated one.

    It's not exactly the same thing, but for more on the same concept, see the excellent dissent of Justice O'Connor in Gonzales v. Raich?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.....g_opinions

  • fyodor||

    I do not agree with harassing US citizens for the false sense of security. Hands-down I would want every single non-US citizen subjected to thorough screening, when entering the country at any port and every time they fly or use public transportation while in the US. Leave US citizens alone!

    How do you know who is or isn't a US citizen till you've harrassed them for their ID?

  • ||

    Until law enforcement is able to pull their heads out of their collective asses and start identifying terrorists - rather than looking for weapons as another comment pointed out - then asking for ID is the only method we have for determining such.

    Simply asking for ID is no where the bother as is the current crap the TSA puts every US citizen through.

  • gobbledygook||

    I'm sure that law enforcement would prefer to identify terrorists instead of frisking granny, but they can't without some measure of profiling which the lawyers will not allow.

    So they have to wave a wand over granny's diaper and sagging breasts while the creepy looking Arab dude, sweating bullets because he's got a vest full of C4 wrapped around his rib cage, goes through without question.

    Did I mention that I despise lawyers?

  • Mister Paleo||

    Damn right "Chuck," you tell them effete, East-coast city-slickers how we do things in real America!!!!

    To protect ourselves from the brown folk, we needs to get back to good ol' fashion American horse! Never heard of no Arab or Mexican blowing up a horse now did ya? Also, if a pregnant woman rides a horse, all that bumpin around will cause her to miscarry, so we'll have no anchor babby problems!!!!

    REMEMBER THE ALAMO!!!!!! DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS!!! ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE!!!!!! YEEEEEEEEEEE-HAAAAWWWWWWWWW!!!!!

  • ||

    real constructive and mature - no where was race mentioned. People from all races all over the world have attempted to or still do come here to produce anchor babies. It was a piss-poor policy from the get-go.

  • ||

    This is exactly why I avoid the airlines if at all possible, even when it costs more to drive.

  • ||

    Once you transition from your own personally owned vehicles and gov't transportation - your travel then becomes a priviledge instead of a right. The airlines, just like any business, can refuse service to you for any reason they can come up with.

    All very true, but somewhat beside the point in a discussion of what a federal "security" apparat does, and what the federal government requires the airlines to do.

  • ||

    Agreed, however if the fed gov't removed the requirement - the airlines are free to continue the practice if they feel it makes the majority of their customers feel safer. Of course the reality is that we are no more safe today than we were 9/10/2001.

  • ||

    ...and still radical muslims are coming here when their pregnancy is due so they can have anchor babies.

    ...and your evidence for this assertion is...?

    Seriously, if this were a well known canard in general circulation I could see you making this claim - even though it's utter bullshit.

    But you seem to have just pulled this one out of your ass.

  • ||

    Kreel - it's called research. This is becoming quite a common practice. Persons having worked in the intel community for decades have written books detailing this very real danger to the US. Though at best the first wave of these radicalized US citizen muslims is a decade away from being an active threat.

  • ||

    Bullshit.

  • ||

    research it before you call bullshit nimwhit.

  • ||

    Produce some evidence. Name one of these books, one of the "authors".

    Give me somewhere to start.

  • ||

    Wow, top find in a google search for "radical muslims, anchor babies" goes to your Hit and Run comment.

    After that a handful of crackpot sights drawing unwarranted conclusions from some sets of vaguely stated "facts". Not one of them is identified as someone "having worked in the intel community for decades".

  • ||

    Since you seem to ignorant to comprehend researching anything - here is one article in which a congressman brings up this subject on the House floor citing FBI source (link to video of House Floor speech included).

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/.....ists-alert

    other articles such as this one http://www.breakingtravelnews......h-tourism/ cite a specific Turkish owned hotel chain in NYC that is advertising such anchor baby getaways overseas.

  • ||

    Yeah, Chuck, that's convincing. [eyerolling]

  • ||

    So what evidence do you have to the contrary that would suggest this is not happening?

  • ||

    Ummm... could it be the fact that there is no evidence that it is.

    Jesus Christ, man, you're the one making the claim. If you want anyone to believe it you're the one who has to prove it.

    I don't believe it and you've given me no reason to do otherwise.

  • ||

    I made the claim - you demanded proof - proof was provided - the burden then lies with you to disprove rather than dismiss the proof I provided.

  • ||

    Unfounded claims by crackpot Republican Congressmen vaguely citing an implausible story from "an FBI source" are not proof.

    And while the baby tourism offered is highly questionable, there's no evidence that it is motivated by radical Ilamism, nor does there appear to be much risk that it will be patronized by any terrorist wannabes.

    Like I say, it won't become true no matter how many time you and handful of other crackpots repeat it.

    You want to be gullible that's fine, but seriously don't get offended when you're ridiculed.

  • ||

    so what determines acceptable proof? can you prove there are US citizens selling real estate in war-torn Iraq? Sending your a link to a website showing such won't be any more tangible proof than the links I provided for this subject. Yet they do exist. So then you cannot simply dismiss proof provided because you don't like the source. you must disprove the accusation or prepare yourself to be dismissed by others.

  • ||

    can you prove there are US citizens selling real estate in war-torn Iraq?

    And this is relevant...how? Why would I try to prove "there are US citizens selling real estate in war-torn Iraq"? Why would I care?

    You seem to have a huge problem with relevance, in fact.

    And no, I'm not dismissing "proof" because I "don't like the source", I am dismissing unfounded statements by crackpots from unverifiable sources and/or dismissing stories that don't say what you say they do.

  • ||

    Persons having worked in the intel community for decades...

    Ayuh, like Cleon Skousen worked for the FBI for years, Pierre Salinger was Jack Kennedy's press secretary and Ramsey Clark was the Attorney-General.

    Lots of crackpots have had government jobs and the batshit crazy bullshit they've produced is astounding.

  • ||

    A Radical Proposal for Airline Security

    Take the train?

  • Tim||

    Because a California super train weighing in at 100 plus tons and moving through LA at 300 mph would never attract the interest of terrorists.

  • ||

    I wouldn't worry about that. They'd have to BUILD the train first, and that will never happen...

  • Mike K.||

    My wife's brother was on the no-fly list. He was 14 at the time he was first stopped. His name was similar to another person who was "more dangerous" and older. It took them over a year to get off the list.

  • SPLC||

    If it weren't for TSA, we wouldn't have a way of keeping Ron Paul voters from boarding airplanes. Because they're dangerous, just like the Klan.

  • SPLC||

    Of course, it's only okay to do POLITICAL profiling... racial profiling is racist.

    Unless it's used to profile non-Republican/non-Democrat fringe-party voters. Except for Green Party members. And Al Gore fans.

  • MNG||

    Too bad. If you vote for Ron Paul, you get what you deserve.

  • HERP DURP!||

    Jokes on you. Votes don't count anymore.

  • ||

    "Somehow, though, Americans have come to see commercial air travel as a privilege to be dispensed by the government."

    Mostly it's the fact that [some] people are inherently scared of flying that makes airlines special. The government's stock-in-trade is fear and fear-mongering. So naturally that's why we're at this point for flying, but not for other stuff like trains and skyscrapers.

    People on planes feel like they're not in control (of course in fact they aren't, but they also are not in control in lots of other situations). But they want someone to be in control for them. It's a picture perfect opportunity for the state to step in.

    Anyway, that's how it happened. No need to keep wondering about it.

    Some people are inherently afraid of guns. Enter: the government.

    People were NOT afraid of drugs. Enter the government to create that fear. Now we're afraid of drug-related crimes, so naturally the gov't is there to protect us.

    230 years ago some people convinced people to be afraid of being controlled and taxed by Britain. That fear motivated people pretty effectively, and the plan worked. Now we're controlled and taxed by somebody else.

  • Ayn R. Key||

    As much as I despise the TSA, honesty compels me to note that there are actually two lists in play.

    The first is the Selectee list, which only mandates additional screening for everyone on the list. It is a huge list, and nobody on it is forbidden from flying. All the Selectee list does is ensure that every time you go to the airport they will grope you and molest you until they're satisfied.

    The second list, the actual No Fly list, is a lot smaller.

    The reason I bring this up is because, due to my experience with arguing with the TSA, I learned that they love to change the subject repeatedly and often. If you ask a question about the No-Fly list they will talk about the SSSSelectee list, and if you ask a question about the SSSSelectee list they will talk about the No-Fly list.

  • ||

    Congratulations Steve on The Week selecting this piece as Best Column.

  • Jim||

    "If the federal government began requiring every citizen to provide identification for each trip in a car or ride on a bus, there would be a mass uprising."

    The fact is that most Americans would probably comply with this as well...with most all of the so-called "conservative" contributors above leading the way. For the new right wing, safety equals freedom. PERIOD.

  • P90x fitness program||

    pop the big question

  • buy cheap insanity dvds||

    means proposal

  • pcrudy||

    Silly article.

    There is no comparison to someone with a bomb on a plane 20,000 feet in the air and trying to take the same bomb into a subway, mall etc., that is fixed on land, and can be patrolled by 100's of police and cameras, not to mention 1,000's of citizens etc.

  • Scarpe Nike||

    is good

  • jackwhitey2||

    I think that although the lines can be long, TSA does a great job. It is a good feeling, knowing that everyone is scanned thoroughly. There really hasn't been any issues since then as well, which is a really good sign. http://www.acupuncturepuntagor.....s-treated/

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