Pat Downs and Screening: Let the Talk-Downs Begin

There’s no reason to fear the TSA. There’s no reason you should be embarrassed about being seen naked, no reason why you shouldn’t get felt up at the airport. After all, it’s a small sacrifice for security when we’re in the middle of two terror-related wars.

So saeth Tim Macaluso and Josh Marshall in the same day, today.

I’ll agree its a sacrifice. And depending on your personal preference, it may indeed be small…. But never mind that. What I wonder is: what do we get in exchange? What are we sacrificing for?

For all the hyperbole about the underwear bomber, the fact is that they caught him. Does that mean we need more security measures? Would chemical testing for bombs would have been as effective at catching the hypothetical Taint Bomber as either a pat-down or a screening would be? Nobody particularly minds a crotch-sniffing dog, why not use them instead of crotch-grabbing TSA workers? Are there objective goals to the new procedures that can be met? Is the TSA the best body to handle any of this? What are their success and failure rates at catching terrorists? Is there evidence to support the conclusion that the screenings are necessary? And who, exactly, won the contract that supplies the machines the TSA insists must be used, on pain of ball-pinching justice?

I have no idea, but do you really expect a bored TSA worker to spend a lot of time down there where it matters with just anybody? Whatever the objective facts of the case are, I wouldn’t look for answers from the TSA chief who has just today admitted that he withheld information from the public in advance of the new screening procedures because he didn’t want to “compromise security.”

Or so he says. But I have little tolerance for the insistence that the big, hush-hush secrets our security apparatus have in place are what keep us from harm. We hear that one over and over again – from the Cold War to the present day. I think its generally just a cover for bad decisions.

No, we the American people are certainly not suffering or sacrificing in the name of our many anti-terror efforts. Yes, we could afford to do more for the cause, I do suppose. But to simply shrug your shoulders and insist that, without the slightest evidence one way or the other, the sacrifice is “worth it,” is just a silly abdication of your rights.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.