Under the Transportation Security Administration's new screening policy, I can legally carry most of my Leatherman pocket tool onto an airplane: The scissors, the screwdrivers, the nail file, and the tweezers are all OK, but the two-inch blade is still forbidden. I'm not sure I understand the logic of that distinction, since even very sharp scissors up to four inches long are now permitted. But so far, on those occasions when I've forgotten to leave the tool at home, I haven't had any trouble sneaking it past the screeners by the very tricky maneuver of dropping it into my carry-on bag.
The more lenient rules regarding carry-on items are supposed to free up screeners to do more "secondary searches." According to The New York Times,
Passengers are now typically subject to a more intensive, so-called secondary search only if their names match a listing of suspected terrorists or because of anomalies like a last-minute ticket purchase or a one-way trip with no baggage.
The new strategy, which has been tested in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Orange County, Calif., will mean that a certain number of passengers, even if they are not identified by these computerized checks, will be pulled aside and subject to an added search lasting about two minutes. Officials said passengers would be selected randomly, without regard to ethnicity or nationality.
So am I to understand that until now I've been selected for wandings and pat-downs based on my name or something suspicious about my behavior? And when they've scrutinized my whole family, including my 2-year-old daughter, that was because there was something terroristy about us? I had been under the impression that those occasional black marks on my boarding passes were random. Now that the TSA is officially doing random searches, does that mean I'll be pulled aside more often or less?