Department of Homeland Security

Books Spared TSA Screening, But DHS Promises Other Enhanced Security Measures

The Department of Homeland Security is replacing its laptop ban with more sweeping security measures for all U.S.-bound flights.


Melissa Gutierrez/flickr

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has quietly ended a pilot program testing the idea of having passengers remove books from carry-on bags while going through airport security. But other new security measures will be implemented for international flights arriving in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week.

Airlines that do not comply could see a total ban on large electronics on their flights.

In remarks at the Council for New American Security Conference, DHS Secretary John Kelly optimistically stated that with the new measures, "we have the opportunity to raise the baseline on aviation security globally, and we can do it in a manner that will not unduly inconvenience the flying public."

Anyone who has experienced TSA screenings knows how unlikely that last bit is.

Kelly went on to say that airlines that "choose not to cooperate or are slow to adopt these measures could be subject to other restrictions—including a ban on electronic devices on their airplanes, or even a suspension of their flights to the United States."

That means passengers flying with a non-compliant airline could even be prohibited from packing large electronics in a checked bag.

Many airlines, especially those subject to the original laptop ban on certain flights from the Middle East, are actually welcoming this announcement since it means there will no longer be a blanket ban on larger electronics as long as they are compliant with the new DHS policies. But what constitutes compliance is not very clear, since the enhanced security measures have not yet been described in detail. Kelly made vague mentions of more advanced technology at security checkpoints and increased use of bomb-sniffing dogs, but that's about it.

Nor is it clear how burdensome the new measures will be for travelers, or how much they'll cost. Undoubtedly, much of the cost will be passed onto passengers and taxpayers, who already fund the TSA's current security theater to the tune of $7.6 billion per year.

The utter ineffectiveness of the TSA's current screening methods has been well documented and there's no reason to think that the DHS has overcome its propensity to increase passenger irritation with little increased security. The veiled threat to ban all electronics from planes would seem to indicate that the department has no problem doubling down on its past misguided policies, rather than learn from the criticism of the original ban.

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  1. Discouraging illegal immigration by making travel into the United States unnecessarily burdensome is just one of the ways that the Trump Administration is #keepingamericasafe.

  2. America in 2017

    TSA: We have decided we won’t ban books.

    Citizens: Thank you, government overlords, thank you!

  3. Look, you can probe my asshole with two fingers all you like, if you need to…but I think I deserve some privacy!

    1. Turn the tables on them. Next time one of them gives you a cavity check, clench down on their fingers with your rectal muscles, wit all your might.

  4. “We haven’t found a single terrorist with our current searches and groping and security theater, so we’re going to try even harder with new security theater matinee shows.”

    1. We’re going to grope deeper until we find one.

    2. Hey, they’re raising the baseline on aviation security globally! We’re gonna be so much safer!

  5. the old boxcutter in the book trick.

  6. DHS Promises Other Enhanced Security Measures

    Oh goody, I can’t wait. /sarc

    My question is why? Is there some specific threat that they’re trying to counteract? Not that it would make it OK, it’s still just kabuki theater, but at least if there was some specific threat they could try and rationalize it. As it is, it just seems like for FYTW bullshit.

  7. I love the blackmail element in all this. “Well, we decided not to do this really awful thing but if you don’t cooperate on this other thing we want, we can still do the awful thing just to you.”

    I’m amazed that this aspect of it isn’t even spoken of, just taken for granted. (Actually, no I’m not. sigh)

  8. the cost will be passed onto passengers and taxpayers, who already fund the TSA’s current security theater to the tune of $7.6 billion per year.

    But think of the JOBS! Especially for the morbidly obese and Muslims who might face discrimination in other career paths!

  9. I’m sorry, I’m trying to figure out why they are doing this other than the Orwellian reason, and I’m just failing to understand it.

    Can someone help?

    1. Sure. The supervisor of the next TSA agent you ask.

      1. The one with the crazy eyes, and the MP5? I’ll pass, thanks.

        And they wonder why I haven’t flown since 2008…

  10. You know what would be a great new security measure?

    Forcing kids to let their stuffed animals, dolls, blankies, etc. be thoroughly examined by the TSA.

  11. All Praise Godvermint!

  12. At what point does the public wise up to this crap and start saying “enough!”?

    Oh, wait, the frog in the pan on the stove…..

    Happy Independence Day all!

  13. I’m thinking the announcement is timed for the “upgrade” to go into effect for the holiday season.

    Unfortunately, my spouse is already calculating flights for a Thanksgiving visit to grandkids, which can’t be refused and it’s too far to drive in her available week off.

    Last time they didn’t like my handgun box, so I’d better upgrade that. No TSA slippers, though. I’ll die fly with my boots on, thankyouverymuch.

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