Writing in Popular Mechanics, University of Tennessee law prof Glenn Instapundit Reynolds talks about the legality and wisdom of TSA's new groin-gropin', backscatting SOP. Needless to say, legality and wisdom are very different concepts.
I'm inclined to think that the federal courts will uphold these searches, accepting authorities' representations on privacy and also relying on the ground that those who are offended by the searches can simply forego air travel. That's what they've always done, and they show no sign of changing their approach now….
For too long, Americans have let the security folks make all the security decisions, even though those decisions have tradeoffs that affect us all. In November, when consternation over the new searches started to boil, economist Steven Horwitz argued forcefully that the stepped-up air security might cost more lives than it could save, by encouraging large numbers of Americans to drive—which is vastly more dangerous—where they otherwise would have flown. Given that air travel statistically is much safer than driving, he may have a point.
Remember, the only time a terrorist attack on a U.S. airliner has been defeated (as opposed to fizzling when a shoe bomb failed to detonate) was on Flight 93. That's when the passengers themselves took action. Security has always been about everyone, not just the professionals, because where terrorism is concerned, everyone is on the front line. Anyone might be a first responder, by virtue of being where an attack happens. So it's time for the public to weigh in, and for authorities to listen. To fight terrorism, we need a populace that is informed, motivated, vigilant and prepared, not one that is seething and feeling powerless and resentful. Yet our current security approach seems almost designed to produce the latter, rather than the former….
Terrorism is a widely dispersed threat…It can only be countered by something else that's widely dispersed, capable of quick change, and dedicated to success. Luckily, we have something like that. It's called democracy. Let's use it.
Read the whole thing here.
And if you're reading this while waiting to board an airplane or get through security, check out Reason.tv's trailer for Con Air 2010, because this holiday season, we're all being treated like convicts.
More TSA videos here.