TSA Needs a Risk-Based Approach to Airport Security

As I’ve frequently noted in my Airport Security Newsletter, intrusive screening of everyone is inherent in the TSA’s current approach to airport security, which treats all air travelers as equally likely to be a terrorist threat. The only feasible way to remove body-scanning (or the intrusive pat-down alternative) as standard procedure is to change TSA’s screening model to one that is risk-based. In practice, that would mean separating air travelers (other than those on the No-Fly list, who are automatically denied passage) into three basic groups:

  1. Trusted Travelers, who have passed a background check and are issued a biometric ID card that proves (when they arrive at the security checkpoint) that they are the person who was cleared. This group would include cockpit crews, anyone holding a government security clearance, anyone already a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Global Entry, Sentri, and Nexus, and anyone who applied and was accepted into a new Trusted Traveler program. These people would get to bypass regular security lanes  upon having their biometric card checked at the airport, subject only to random screening of a small fraction.
  2. High-risk travelers, either those about whom no information is known or who are flagged by the various Department of Homeland Security (DHS) intelligence lists as warranting “Selectee” status. They would be the only ones facing body-scanners or pat-downs as mandatory, routine screening.
  3. Ordinary travelers—basically everyone else, who would go through metal detector and put carry-ons through 2-D X-ray machines. They would not have to remove shoes or jackets, and could travel with liquids. A small fraction of this group would be subject to random “Selectee”-type screening.

This type of risk-based screening would focus TSA resources on the travelers that should receive the most scrutiny by reducing the use of resources on low-risk travelers. It would also save considerable sums of taxpayer dollars, reducing screener payroll and equipment costs - no more body scanners would be purchased since TSA already owns enough to use only for the secondary screening needed for the above program.

As for TSA claims that Trusted Traveler would be too risky, they cannot make that claim with a straight face, for two reasons. First, their parent agency DHS operates the three border-crossing programs noted above (Global Entry, Sentri, and Nexus) which operate on exactly the same principle. Second, TSA itself applies this principle for the hundreds of thousands of people who work at airports and need access to secure areas to do their jobs. Those people must pass an FBI criminal history background check, which entitles them to an ID card giving them unescorted access to secure airport areas. Some of these people have access to planes on the tarmac, which means they could do damaging things to those planes. Yet TSA accepts this risk trade-off. 

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  • omg||

    I have a better idea on how the TSA could do business: they could climb to the highest peak in the nation and hurl themselves off of it, landing ass-first on a rusty metal spike the size of a telephone pole.

  • waffles||

    There's like 67,000 of them. We're gonna need a bigger pole.

  • omg||

    I'll make it myself if I have to.

  • dinkster||

    The Shrike's tree of thorns sounds appropriate.

  • ||

    Pistole and (Janet) Napolitano first please.

  • Gibby||

    Can they bring their goldfish?

    http://bigjournalism.com/files/2010/11/Picture-52.png

  • Matrix||

    are you an OU grad?

  • Billy Shakespeare||

    Spindle and mutilate, all at once!

  • Joe M||

    Should I go ahead an state the obvious? this policy is far too sensible to be considered.

  • ||

    ... reducing screener payroll ...

    An increasing screener payroll, an increasing union membership and increasing union kick-back to the Democratic Party are seen as design goals.

  • ||

    Don't sell the Republicans short, GoNavy!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Some flying pigs are more equal than others.

  • wef||

    So ¿cui bono?

    If sensible policies to address the stated objectives are not adopted, then .... just what does that mean?

    So, umm, just when do we get to call the regime illegitimate?

  • ||

    The desire to rule the masses will always overcome the need for common sense.

  • ||

    What an awesome quote. I'm not going to ask you if I can use it. I'm using it.

  • Abdul||

    Trusted Travelers, who have passed a background check and are issued a biometric ID card that proves (when they arrive at the security checkpoint) that they are the person who was cleared. This group would include cockpit crews, anyone holding a government security clearance

    I can think of a few flaws. In addition to the ones cited above, I work with disgruntled employees everyday. Many of them possess security clearances. Not all of these guys are threats, but I won't be surprised to see one in the newspaper someday.

  • ||

    Then maybe you raise the bar a little bit higher. And no system is perfect. But you have to develop some system that discriminates. You can't strip search everyone.

    The problem is that any system that does that is going to by definition treat people differently. And no Democrat is ever going to sign up for that. Better to terrorize everyone and do nothing towards improving security than give up the grail of equality.

  • Abdul||

    I still think the better system is less invasive screening for everyone. Getting a government clearance is done almost exclusively for federal employees. I hesitate to mention this here because of the rampant bureaucrat hatred, but I am one of those employees. I get enough perks as it is (thanks taxpayers!), but i really don't need to be treated better than you are at the airport.

  • ||

    Fair enough. I think you have to figure out some way to concentrate your efforts.

  • ||

    You can opt to get a government screening. One way, which of course varies from state to state, is getting a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

    Thankfully, I don't fly on business any more, but when I did, I would have happily applied for an ID that said, like a CC permit does, that I've already been checked thoroughly. Why go through the same check over and over?

  • cynical||

    "You can't strip search everyone."

    I'm archiving this one for 2014.

  • ||

    I'll see your 2014 and raise you one 2012!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And you specifically denote Democrats as if Republicans don't see it better to terrorize everyone (for whatever reason).

  • Lily||

    "You can't strip search everyone"

    Dude, I think that's what they're trying to do - that scanner is a virtual strip search.

  • Ugh||

    The proper response to 9/11 was to realize that no passenger is going to ever allow anything like that to happen again. And possibly to seal the cockpit or add an emergency beacon that would let the military know the plane has been compromised.

  • ||

    Yes. And live with the risk that someone can put together and light their show bomb before the passengers kill them. That seems like a pretty good bet to me.

  • Rinse, repeat||

    And no Democrat is ever going to sign up for that!

  • ||

    True. The mere suggestion that any of us can possibly take care of ourselves makes them nearly homicidal with rage. But that's ALL of what Scott Rasmussen refers to as the "political class", not just the Democrats within that class...

  • Brian E||

    You're being sarcastic, but it does seem like a pretty good bet. I don't believe TSA could actually stop a determined attacker from getting bomb components past the security line now, so I take that bet every time I travel. The only difference is whether some overpaid unionized idiot with a GED is feeling me up on my way to the gate.

    We all live in a world where some idiot could decide to kill you on a whim. Most people have learned how to deal with this by now.

  • ||

    I am actually not being sarcastic. Sorry if it came off that way. I think it is a good bet.

  • ||

    I didn't take it as sarcastic. Another thing: the attempts at using cargo planes as bomb-carriers recently failed. However, what if a more secretive individual or small group used the "shotgun" method and shipped 100 such bombs at the same time? That's a pretty crude strategy, but could it be stopped?

    I sincerely doubt that a 9/11-style attack will happen again. There are many ways to skin a cat. The reason that we don't have many terrorist attacks is that most of us are sane, moral human beings who want to live our lives and be left the hell alone, for the most part anyway -- even the most adamant of SoCon fascists and left-wing lunatics.

    If everyone wanted to be a terrorist, there'd be no way to stop terrorism. (For Firefly fans, see "Reavers".) But hardly anyone really does.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Reavers? We gotta get outta here.

  • ||

    ""And live with the risk that someone can put together and light their show bomb before the passengers kill them."""

    Well, so far it's passengers 1, shoe bomber 0. Passengers 1, underwear bomber 0.

  • Joe R.||

    Not only that, but even if we could make it impossible to sneak a bomb through security, then the bomber will just set one off before the security bottleneck.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Which would result in the exact same scenario. Air travel being shut down (perhaps worldwide); only with the added bonus of perhaps killing even more people.

  • ||

    Cockpits are already sealed, and there already is an emergency beacon/frequency/language to let the military know if a plane is compromised.

    9/11 can't happen again, because the rules have changed. None of which was the TSA's doing, by the way.

    And, the most idiotic thing? These scans/sexual assaults (known as pat downs) wouldn't have even stopped what they were designed for in the first place: The Christmas Day attempted bombing last year.

    (and to the "Just don't fly if you don't like it" people? Just wait for them to expand this to trains. And buses. And subways. All of which is coming.)

  • ||

    ^This. I really wish I had a wordier argument than "Freedom is good, people. Gaaahhhh!!" but it wouldn't make a difference as fear sells much better than everything else (except maybe sex)

  • ||

    Why stop there? Cars. Every single car. That's the ultimate threat, and don't think they wouldn't love to try.

  • Wind Rider||

    Just wait for them to expand this to trains. And buses. And subways. All of which is coming.

    Already in works - you'd have been yelling at the TV with CSPAN on while Pistole happily chatted about that very subject with Claire McCaskill today at the hearing where NONE OF THOSE MORONS bothered to ask him about alternatives (such as adopting an Israeli methodology of behavioral observation)

    It was like watching then grease the skids of the sled straight to hell.

  • Libertarian Robot||

    a biometric ID card

    Warning! Warning, Will Robinson!

  • Finchy||

    Succinct, but important. Remember how SS numbers were never going to be used for ID purposes? I can just imagine how quickly the DMV and Wells-
    Fargo alike will start demanding your biometric ID for normal transactions.

  • Matrix||

    Do we really need biometric cards? I already have a defense issued CAC which has some biometric stuff (finger print).

  • ||

    I could probably be convinced to go along with a biometric ID on one condition:

    It has to be produced and verified before you can vote.

  • waffles||

    funny, they would never go for this

  • Virginia||

    I'd like to hear more about that private security option that airports supposedly could've enacted two years after the TSA act was passed.

  • Matt Welch||

    Why on earth *would* they, is my thought on that. I don't see a single incentive that would lead them in that direction.

  • ||

    If it would allow them to not put people through this, that would create an incentive. Why fly out of Airport X and get felt up when you can fly out of our airport and just go through a metal detector?

    Also, many airports are run by counties or at least answerable to local governments. They might do so out of political pressure.

  • Joe M||

    Too much liability if you go it alone. It would only be feasible if the TSA were dissolved and every airline provided its own security, I think.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    Which should be done.

  • Joe M||

    It was an early model for moving to single-payer health insurance.

  • Brian E||

    I can see Chicago doing that for O'Hare and Midway. The incentive ought to be obvious.

  • Finchy||

    I won't speak for Welch, but the win for airports in all this is that they can continue to shrug apologetically and blame the TSA.

    If they take over security, all of the sudden they are liable (commercially) for every tussled hair on your head(s).

  • Brian E||

    You don't think some company is willing to take that bet to get in on a massive patronage program? If they get sued, they'll just fold and come back under a different name.

  • Finchy||

    No, because people won't hold "some company" accountable. They will blame the airline. Right now airlines get to be free of blame, free of charge.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I don't think the investors will see it that way.

  • ||

    SFO is the biggest airport that's gone with private security. But given that they're required to follow TSA procedures to the letter, it's not much different.

    Now if airports could go back to the security that existed 9/10/01? Then we'd be getting somewhere.

  • NoVAHockey||

    Wouldn't dogs be a better way to find explosives than some agent staring at a computer screen of essentially the same image over and over? If the dog selects you, you get pulled for secondary screening.

  • Gibby||

  • ||

    That's a feature, not a bug.

  • ||

    Fuck you! I have the right to wear my bacon pants unmolested by canine nose-spies!

  • ||

    I never would have pegged you for a fan of Lady Gaga.

  • hmm||

    I've got their risk-based approach. Every time a TSA agent touches my cock and balls I have the option of anal probing them. (link is youtube and probably NSFW)

    Risk-based enough?

  • hmm||

    We won't be safe until the government can idea everyone of us instantly.

    Fucking A people are offering solutions worse than the current problem.

    I have a plan. Give everyone who wants one a complimentary gun with one round in it.

  • hmm||

    idea = ID

    Sometimes being retarded is not easy.

  • pancakes||

    tell me about it

  • Law Student||

    How about getting the government out of the airport security business entirely?

  • ¢||

    Here's my "risk-based" security plan: No security. Fly if you don't mind getting blown up once in a while, or if you think you can stop it yourself. Because "get blown up" and "stop it yourself" are the only two things that ever actually happen.

    How about getting the government out of the airport security business entirely?

    HOMOPHOBE

  • Bingo||

    Give me a fucking break. There's a strong incentive for the TSA to move people from Category 3 to Category 2. In fact, one could argue that the creation of the TSA essentially put all of us in Category 2.

  • ||

    Don't "fix".

    Abolish.

  • Kristen||

    We all know that bad people never get government clearances, right?

  • ||

    Yeah. It is not like an Army officer has gone psycho and killed a bunch of soldiers in the name of the jihad recently or anything. Anyone in the military or with a clearance is going to be A OK.

  • ||

    I really wish I had a wordier argument than "Freedom is good, people. Gaaahhhh!!"

    You're doing better than I am; pretty much all I can muster anymore is, "Fuck you, you chickenshit cocksucker."

  • Bingo||

    This is seriously the most unlibertarian thing I've seen published on this site since Weigel left.

  • Brian E||

    I dunno. Some of the crap that Armin Rosen has been putting out has been this bad or worse.

  • Pip||

    Yup. That fucker is a moron.

  • ||

    When the color coded terrorist alert system came out I had a theory that code red and code blue were two alert levels that could ever be declared. Red could never be declared because it would be a tacit admission by authorities they had failed to sufficiently protect the nation. Code blue would never be declared because to declare no risk makes the authorities irrelevant while simultaneously exposing themselves to criticism should a threat or terrorist action occur. We never have seen anything other than code yellow and orange.

    We won't ever see a significant relaxation of TSA's current methods, for similar reasons. There simply is no win for the TSA to back off from subjecting every one of us to heightened levels of scrutiny. The risk and consequences of failure to those who are administering the system is too great. There are asses to be covered and protected here, people.

    Of course, there is also the bureaucracy to be maintained. In any hierarchy head count is one of the most important measures of success. The TSA isn't going to give up head count.

  • ||

    All that and the fact that it is easier to control a populace that lives in fear. Show me a scared person and I'll show you one that I can dominate.

  • Joe M||

    They've only ever used two threat levels with that idiotic scale, and in fact, no one ever thinks about it anymore. I don't think the threat level has been changed in years.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    The risk and consequences of failure to those who are administering the system is too great. There are asses to be covered and protected here, people.

    "We've got to protect our phony baloney jobs, gentlemen. We must do something about this, immediately, immediately, immediately!"

  • creech||

    What the heck is the security check going to be when "teh terrorists" line up some terminally ill grandma, strap an explosive under her boobs where it is invisible to scatter scan, and tell her she will detonate the bomb on an airplane or they will slaughter her kids and grandkids?

  • Bingo||

    No, see the TSA is suddenly going to become enlightened and be able to accurately judge who these high risk individuals are.

    So we'll have three security lines according to this idiotic post: one for express lane for the saints that have gotten a pre-emptive body cavity search and have a magical piece of paper certifying they are Terrorist Free, one line for us humble ordinary folks, and then the third line that all the terrorists will line up in.

    Because the TSA and the government as a whole have had such a great record of identifying who these high risk individuals are. After all, it's not like 3 year olds are on the No Fly List, right??

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I'll let you know after I see the movie. That's a movie pitch, right?

  • ||

    Then "grandma" rips off the mask and is revealed to be Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad, and he beats up the terrorists in a humorous but effective fashion.

  • Matrix||

    No, everyone is a terrorist! And your kids have to be molested by the highly trained people who work for TSA... never mind that they could be members of NAMBLA. Also, your naked scans can be saved and passed around online. But it's all for your own good! Remember... the terrists might blow you up 'cause they hate yer freedomz!

    So, the terrorists hate our freedom. Yet the government is the one taking away our freedom. Who are the terrorists, again?

  • The Government||

    No. I too hate you for your freedoms.

  • AlmightyJB||

    A little common sense would go a long way. Unfortunately that doesn't exist in DC.

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=40058

  • cynical||

    What the TSA needs to do is eat a bag of dicks and then die.

  • ||

    Isn't anyone going to welcome Bob as a contributor to H&R? Yes, his articles have been published here many times, but this is his first by-line. Or question his sanity for slumming with the likes of us? He could've safely stayed behind the comment free content of Reason.org as he's done for years. But, suffering from an apparent bout of insanity, he's waded into the shark pit.

    Welcome, Bob!

  • Brian E||

    Welcome, Bob! Now piss off and take your statist crap with you. Or else wade in to the comments and explain why the government is demanding to see my papers before I can travel.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    This.

  • ||

    Ah, nothing like a no-compromise libertarian. All or nothing! This, of course, is why we are often not taken seriously, and get nothing. Slowly, slowly catchy monkey. Remember what the Fabian socialists accomplished.

  • RyanXXX||

    Privatize all security, and repeal the shitty parts of the Civil Rights Act. Then airlines could just not let muslims on the plane. Or maybe just not turban-wearing muslims.

  • Finchy||

    Hooray, freedom! Wait, what?

  • RyanXXX||

    No one has a RIGHT to an airline ticket. If the airlines started preventing muslims from travel,a new airline that serviced ONLY muslims could pop up to meet the demand among muslims travelers. Everyone wins

  • LG||

    You're right! If we've learned nothing else from our history, it's that segregation solves ALL the problems.

  • sarcasmic||

    That would be a great idea if the purpose of the TSA was to make air travel safe.
    That's not their purpose.
    Their purpose is to provide the appearance of safety.

    That's why they frisk old women and children.

    It's not about safety, it's about putting on a show.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    But I thought one had to be 18 in order to be admitted to this kind of show.

  • ||

    No, I think it is about safety, but also about conspicuous "fairness" and not getting the civil rights lawyers on your case, which would happen if they did the sensible thing and focused on likely suspects instead of everyone.

  • Trespassers W||

    No, sarcasmic had it right.

    This is about preventing another 9/11, not about preventing another terrorist attack. There is a big difference between the two.

    "Hey, we can't think of everything. But we can think of THIS thing!"

  • johnitalia||

    I have a question:

    I am flying to New Orleans in a couple of weeks. I own a kilt. We all know what the acceptable undergarments are to accompany a kilt.

    Should I
    a)Wear the kilt and go through the pat down
    or
    b)Wear jeans and go through the pat down?

  • ||

    Either way, gently piss yourself as soon as they touch you.

  • johnitalia||

    I thought that went without saying, but maybe not

  • Rastus||

    Or wear a adult diaper full of carry-on.

  • ||

    That would be funny.

    Would you like to check my diaper? It feels a little heavy.

  • Billy Shakespeare||

    Or wear a adult diaper full of carry-on.

    +1

    Now that's a carry-on to beat all.

  • ||

    Kilt. But make sure to vaseline your groinadal area right before entering the line.

  • Rastus||

    So, how does the TSA handle trannies?

  • ||

    Proudly with both hands?

  • ||

    I believe the actual Scottish term I am looking for is "Going Regimental". I am thinking the guy stuck feeling you up probably quits his job that day.

  • Ska||

    So we need more dudes to invest in kilts. Are they expensive?

  • ||

    If you are wearing a kilt, you should also be carrying a claymore. Wield it threateningly at the TSA inspectors.

  • Matrix||

    ha! that would be hilarious to see

  • Citizen Nothing||

    This guy is already ahead of you.

  • ||

  • Wind Rider||

    Go with the kilt, no underwear. INSIST that the 'pat down' agent be FEMALE (loudly protesting that no guy is gonna touch your Claymore, or something. At the appropriate moment, do your best Meg Ryan in the Diner impersonation. Be polite, and ask her if it was good for her.

  • ||

    Risk based approach has it's own problems. Background checks grow stale over time. Not to mention just doing a regular backgroud check isn't good enough. The amount of information to make a judgement would be vast. Emails, Facebook postings, phone records, bank records, ect.

    If one is interest in getting government out of your personal life, risk based isn't that way to go.

  • ||

    Oh, it's not that hard to get 99.99% there. Are they Muslim? Are they married to a Muslim? Were they born in a majority Muslim country? Have they taken one long, or numerous short trips to a Muslim country? All that eliminates 99%+ of the population from needing background checks, so they can focus on the remaining fraction, which includes (AFAIK) 100% of recent suicide hijackers, and probably close to 100% of hijackers of American airliners in the last 25+ years.

  • ||

    The solution is a simple one:

    First, require all passengers to check all luggage. No carry-ons, no nothing.

    Second, require all passengers to fly totally nude.

    Third, place all passengers in individual pods (similar to the Japanese capsule motels) that can be ejected midflight in the event that DHS determines that the passenger is a threat or, in the case of a terrorist attack on the plane, to provide a means of escape for all of the non-terrorist passengers. And yes, the pods will have parachutes.

    Fourth, in the case of passengers on the no-fly list or who otherwise appear to compromise security, render them unconscious for the entire flight.

  • Brian E||

    Individual pods? Can't I be placed into a pod with the (totally hot) travel partner of my choosing?

  • ||

    I suppose. Provided that you are both naked.

  • ||

    Nope. But you can however travel with a TSA approved Janet Napolitano look alike air marshal.

  • ||

    Hey, this is my idea. I have a business process patent on it. If I say he can have company, he can have company.

    Though there will be a surcharge for the service.

  • ||

    Nope. I will just write a reg and put you out of business. Now of course there will be waivers granted Napalitano rule. The right people will always be able to use special "private air marshals" of their choosing.

  • ||

    My exemption is going to be too popular to fall to your bureaucratic shenanigans.

    Though this does give me an idea. Since passengers are going to be naked and alone in a pod, anyway, an enterprising young man could rent accompaniment that could be dropped off at any airport. By giving the airlines a piece of the, um, piece, they could be rented without having to purchase another ticket.

  • Thom||

    The airlines would love this for the checked bag fees alone.

  • ||

    Yes, we'll have no problem getting them on board with this. Ditto the airplane manufacturers, who will be called upon to build new, pod-friendly planes.

    Actually, this could provide a massive stimulus to the economy.

  • Kristen||

    I ain't no terraist expert or nothin, but it seems to me the next target will be public transport. They did the airplane thing. The risk/reward for doing another attack on an airplane is not favorable. But let's just wave our hand over here at the airport while the American publ...err...sheep say "Oooh! Shiny!"

  • ||

    I did hear something on a recent Teaching Company course ("Utopia and Terror in the 20th Century"--very good, by the way), where the lecturer mentioned some of the other attacks considered by al Qaeda post 9/11. One was delivering poison by hot-air balloons. And there were other ideas totally unrelated to hijacking airplanes.

    I think we tend to exaggerate the threat of terror groups like this, but it doesn't take a genius to try to exploit our weak spots rather than take on areas where we've beefed up security.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    delivering poison by hot-air balloons
    Ok. This made me laugh. Is that wrong?

  • Citizen Nothing||

    I can just envision them spraying out an aerosol cloud of toxins, which, of course, continues to float with them at exactly the same speed as the balloon.
    "Ahmed, what the fuck were you thinking?"

  • ||

    Yeah, that's what I thought you meant. Liquids wouldn't do much good for mass poisoning--not from a balloon, anyway--so I'm not sure exactly what they were planning. Maybe it was biological agents and the lecturer just misspoke?

  • jasno||

    Toxins? Like non-organic carrot juice?

    How about a floating massage table? Isn't massage supposed to release 'the toxins'?

  • USDA||

    Raw milk, bud.

  • USDA||

    Raw milk, bud.

  • ||

    Only if it happens.

    It's funny, but when I heard that, I realized that all of their plans that we've captured (we obviously have reams and reams of al Qaeda intelligence after all these years) seem to be on the Q.T. I've never heard anything else like that before.

  • Matrix||

    Well, the government is trying to move from a reactive approach to proactive and find out what the enemy is capable of and find ways to mitigate the risks or to prevent it in the first place.

  • ||

    As much as I'm not a fan of the continued occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, I'm pretty sure one reason we haven't been attacked domestically again (besides having the closer targets due to the wars) is that our reaction was pretty scary from the loony Arab perspective. Iraq was considered a major power in the region, and we wiped it out--twice--with very little effort.

    We're muy loco and armed to the teeth, which may be our greatest defense.

  • waffles||

    We're muy 4loco and armed to the teeth, which may be our greatest defense

    FTFY

  • ||

    Uh, oh. Maybe the ban was a bad idea. For national security reasons.

  • ||

    Not only that, but eager jihadis may well prefer to attack our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of figuring out how to attack the US directly.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    but it doesn't take a genius to try to exploit our weak spots rather than take on areas where we've beefed up security.

    This statement assumes that they've actually beefed up security.

  • ||

    Added a potted meat product veneer, then.

  • Ska||

    The thing is, I could get on the LIRR and blow myself the fuck up in Penn station virtually problem free. Thank god it hasn't happened yet, but man that seems so fucking obvious.

    With the amount of commuters there in the morning, I'd love to see what the fuck the NYPD thinks they could do about it.

  • ||

    I know, the terrorists don't seem to think very creatively or logically. Within a week after 9/11 I easily came up with a pretty foolproof plan for attacking San Francisco or another port city, one that would take maybe a dozen guys, didn't cost much, and that could easily kill hundreds (at least) and do hundreds millions of dollars of damage (or much more). And no, I'm not going to say what it is.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Some day when I finish my matter teleportation device, all of these TSA problems will be in the past. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked trying to get my doomsday machine completed on schedule.

    Which, come to think of it, will also solve all these screening issues.

  • Matrix||

    You need to work on that deathray first. And don't forget the hoverboard

  • ||

    delivering poison by hot-air balloons

    If true, this explains why blowing up a shoe seems like a good plan.

  • ||

    I used to hang out in the Oyster Bar at Grand Central once in a while; it was fun to lean on the railing drinking a beer and watching all the little commuter drones scurrying hither and thither.

    A remotely detonated kaboom would be bad news.

  • ||

    ""A remotely detonated kaboom would be bad news.""

    Yet they want to add cell phone service in the subway system.

  • ||

    Too lazy to Google it, but I heard/read somewhere today that an epidemiologist ran the numbers on the radiation dose from the scanners.

    It causes a small but real increase in cancer risk. One in 30MM, perhaps.

    Which, he was kind enough to point out, is approximately equal to your odds of dying in a terrorist attack.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Is that for a single exposure?

  • ||

    Absolutely terrible idea. Your solution is worse than what we have. You are requiring that people be bio-tagged like cattle! And, you are giving deference to those who work for the government. That's precisely the problem: government agents have too much power already hence the public's backlash over being sexually assaulted for merely boarding a plane.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    How about this? People who want enhanced security (body scanners, aggressive pat downs, etc.) ride in their own planes. These will be colloquially referred to as "pussy planes." The extra security costs are included as part of the ticket. The rest of us take our chances.

  • ||

    Remember that company a couple years ago that floated the idea of making all passenger wear stun bracelets that could be remotely activated?

    http://www.washingtontimes.com.....r-peanuts/

  • Porkchopjim||

    Um...

    Other than the usual box of knives and other junk that airport security has been taking off people since they invented the concept...

    ...has all this extra money and effort shown to have produced ANY benefit whatsoever? Any TSA 'wins'? Excluding tweezers and breastmilk, I'm at a loss to come up with one.

  • TSA Official||

    That's classified information, sir. Now, please step into the scanner, raise your arms, and unclench your buttocks. Thank you.

  • underzog||

    You idiot Rhoemites? No idea what to do about airport security? For starters profile your Muslim heroes who are not only groovely killing us Jews, but have moved on to people such as yourselves who hate the Jews almost as much as they do.

    Why even when that Muslim John Mohammed guy shot and serverly wounded one of your Libertarian party members in D.C., you guys still rhapsodize about the Muslims.

    The Stockholm syndrome fueld by the heavy drug use you guys support and do.

    "There's no need to fear. Underzog is here."

  • Thom||

    #1 just sounds like a perk for government elites. Make it pilots and flight crew only and I'm cool with it.

  • Old Mexican||

    Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) just introduced HR 6416, the American Traveler Dignity Act:

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/blo.....more-70061

    Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines.

    In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms.


    The incident of the so-called “underwear bomber” last Christmas is given as justification for the billions of dollars the federal government is spending on the new full-body imaging machines, but a Government Accountability Office study earlier this year concluded that had these scanners been in use they may not have detected the explosive material that was allegedly brought onto the airplane. Additionally, there have been recent press reports calling into question the accuracy and adequacy of these potentially dangerous machines.
    My 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.

    Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries.

    I warned at the time of the creation of the TSA that an unaccountable government entity in control of airport security would provide neither security nor defend our basic freedom to travel. Yet the vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats then in Congress willingly voted to create another unaccountable, bullying agency– in a simple-minded and unprincipled attempt to appease public passion in the wake of 9-11. Sadly, as we see with the steady TSA encroachment on our freedom and dignity, my fears in 2001 were justified.

    The solution to the need for security at US airports is not a government bureaucracy. The solution is to allow the private sector, preferably the airlines themselves, to provide for the security of their property. As a recent article in Forbes magazine eloquently stated, “The airlines have enormous sums of money riding on passenger safety, and the notion that a government bureaucracy has better incentives to provide safe travels than airlines with billions of dollars worth of capital and goodwill on the line strains credibility.” In the meantime, I hope we can pass this legislation and protect Americans from harm and humiliation when they choose to travel.
  • Trespassers W||

    Bless that crazy bastard. At least somebody in Congress sticks up for me.

  • ||

    I do NOT understand why people who fly allow this ILLEGAL TSA activity to continue. It's time to simply ABOLISH the TSA.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Because, for many, getting where they need to go supersedes any privacy concerns?

    I', just guessin' here. But I hear ya.

  • ||

    The writer actually thinks we are going to use logic and reason?

  • ||

    close down the air lines until the terrorists give up.

  • ||

    You advocate a risk-based approach to "screening." How about a risk-based approach over all?

    You have about the same chance of getting blown out of the sky by a terrorist as you do getting struck by lightning.

    All the pat-downs in the world won't stop an engine from exploding in-flight on the way to Australia. The full body scans, won't stop birds from being ingested and you having to land in the Hudson. Flying entails risk. Just like driving and heating with Natural Gas.

    American justice is based upon the principle of Guilty until proven Innocent. We'd be a lot more safe from crime if it was the other way around. It's not because we accept that risk. We prize liberty over security.

    If there was no such thing as illegally obtained evidence, and the police could search anyone, any car, or any home whenever they wanted...we'd be more safe as well.

  • ||

    If there was no such thing as illegally obtained evidence, and the police could search anyone, any car, or any home whenever they wanted...we'd be more safe as well.


    All the cops in the world searching everything in the world, won't stop you having the crap beat out of you or your dog shot... by a cop!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I would argue that not only will these situations not be mitigated with unlimited police power to search/seize, but exacerbated.

  • oldfangle||

    I think we're going to start hearing a lot more stories like this one. Especially with the holidays coming up.

    http://www.onntv.com/live/cont.....ml?sid=102

  • kinnath||

    Date: 24 October 2007
    Passenger numbers to reach 2.75 billion by 2011

    (DAMASCUS, Syria) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released passenger and freight traffic forecasts projecting that in 2011 the air transport industry will handle 2.75 billion passengers (620 million more passengers than in 2006) and 36 million tonnes of international freight (7.5 million tonnes more than in 2006).

    * International passenger demand is expected to rise from 760 million passengers in 2006 to 980 million in 2011 at an annual average growth rate (AAGR) of 5.1%. This will be lower than the 7.4% AAGR recorded during 2002-2006, largely due to slightly slower global economic growth.

    * Domestic passenger demand is expected grow from 1.37 billion passengers in 2006 to 1.77 billion in 2011, an AAGR of 5.3%, fuelled by expansion in the Indian and Chinese domestic markets.

    So between 9/11/01 and 11/17/10 we have had around 10 to 15 billion passengers sitting in aircraft seats. Two (got that -- T W O) passengers attempted and failed to detonate low-grade plastic explosives on an airplane.

    The risk of being killed by a terrorist on an airplane is many orders of magnitude less than being killed on the drive to the airport.

  • LG||

    And of those TWO, how many were caught by enhanced security techniques vs. how many by good old fashioned "spot the sweaty, suspicious-looking dude whose crotch/feet are smoking"? Hang on, let me get a pencil, my math's not real good...

  • ||

    I'm tired of hearing from people who rarely or never fly that this is no big deal.

    There are absolutely no assurance that my submitting to a 'gate rape' is keeping me or anyone else safe. But there is a 100% chance that I'm being violated in a very personal way, and I'm losing some of my precious rights.

  • Marina V||

    I just submitted to this very screening last week. I am usually not very sensitive to this sort of thing, but after experiencing it, the term Gate Rape is right on the money! And although I don't want to stop flying, I would be quite reluctant to go through this again, at least out in the middle of the terminal full of 1000 people. I can't imagine submitting to this humiliating experience every time I fly, but I am even more concerned about the TSA folks saving the image of my scan, so a lifetime of screenings is what I'll likely be facing.

    Bob's sensible recommendation is clearly the way to go!

  • ||

    Risk-based? OK, I think TSA agents should be RISKING their jobs every time they show up to work. They should risk getting knocked the fuck out by everyone whose junk they grab (or by the jealous husband of every woman whose junk they grab), and they should risk being arrested every time a passenger complains to the local PD that the "enhanced pat-down" crossed whatever nebulous line differentiates it from a full-on sexual assault.

  • Brubaker||

    For those who claim "it's not so bad," permit me to offer a comment based on many years of personal observation within the Federal bureaucracy: Left to their own devices, programs never grow smaller, nor do they grow cheaper. People get promotions based on their "success" at increasing staff levels and budget size, and they work hard to achieve both objectives.

    The circus at airport security checkpoints frustrates and amazes most air travelers, but it serves its own purpose for TSA management. Whether or not it actually increases security is largely immaterial. The inconvenience, delays and irritations will continue to grow and proliferate until there is sufficient push-back to force political intervention.

  • kcs||

    Makes sense, and will therefore never happen.

  • ||

    "“My experience leaving Tel Aviv was by far and away the most unpleasant encounter I’ve ever had with airport security officials in the decade,” said Matthew Yglesias, a blogger with the Center for American Progress who said it took three hours last month for him to get from the initial security check at Ben-Gurion to the food court. “As best I could tell, things went pretty smoothly as long as you were Israeli, traveling with an Israeli, or traveling with some kind of well-established tour group.” "

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11.....1&hpw;

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