Guest Blog: Airport Protests Are the Wrong Approach

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Business Travel Coalition (BTC) today criticized the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and groups that are advocating an airport security screening opt-out day over the Thanksgiving holiday period. Airports have been high-value targets of terrorists for some 35 years. On December 29, 1975, LaGuardia Airport was teeming with holiday travelers when a bomb exploded killing 11 and injuring 75. Today, security best practice around the world includes moving passengers from the non-secure to the secure sides of airports as expeditiously as possible. To promote actions that impede holiday travelers at non-secure airport checkpoints is irresponsible; to advertise it in advance to terrorists is reckless.

The involved groups have no doubt done a highly effective job in raising national awareness of intrusive and sometimes wasteful TSA security processes. However, for the security and safety of the public, BTC urges these groups to now cancel planned opt-out protests, consolidate campaign success and redirect efforts to the highest levels in Washington. BTC also urges airline, airport and travel industry groups to strongly advise against these potentially dangerous protests and to join public-policy initiatives calling for a complete review of TSA.

In 2004 BTC testimony before the U.S. Congress regarding TSA's proposed Computer Assisted Passenger Prescreening System (CAPPS II), BTC pointed out that TSA's penchant for secrecy and disregard of citizens' privacy and due process concerns did not bode well for long-term public support if so early in its existence it was scornful of public opinion. CAPPS II became the Poster Child for this insular indifference at an agency so arrogant at times that it often refused to provide useful information to reporters without FOIA requests.

The deployment of full-body scanners without a formal public comment process and sufficient medical and scientific vetting is one of the worst TSA abuses of authority since its creation. The overly aggressive pat-downs represent citizen mistreatment in the extreme, especially if used as "punishment" when passengers opt out of full-body scans. There are millions of Americans and foreign tourists – children and adults – who have been traumatized by sexual abuse during their lives. That they now have to relive their suffering in our airports is shameful.

Passengers have complied with layer upon layer of new and changing airport security measures and protocols since 2001. However, an inflection point would appear to have been reached with the body scanner and offensive pat down issues where increasingly forceful push back from the traveling public should lead to an overall review of U.S. aviation system security. The current security screening process, and the inherent opportunity for abuse, is so over-the-top as to even invite mockery from former President George W. Bush on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

While layers of security represent a global best practice, a risk is that all manner of new security measures can be justified and independent scrutiny circumvented simply by hiding behind the "security layers" mantra. Importantly, treating all passengers transiting the aviation system as if they are equal threats to national security represents worst practice because it is ineffective, costly and distractive of better practices. The return on every dollar of investment in intelligence gathering, analysis and sharing within and across borders is orders-of-magnitude greater than dollars spent screening passengers at airports. The intent of Congress should be acted upon by TSA with respect to a true risk and security-based trusted traveler program that streamlines airport security and frees up funds to find the terrorists where they sleep, and before they arrive at our airports.

New TSA Administrator John Pistole inherited a troubled and inwardly focused agency. His straightaway-opportunity is to examine the bigger picture that includes a public that has lost confidence in his agency and that no longer trusts it. Job one should be to determine why; step one should be to reach out to the groups organizing the opt-out protests, listen to their concerns and assure them of a strategic, comprehensive and transparent review of TSA.

Comments (46)

Five paragraphs rightfully raking TSA across the coals, two paragraphs splitting lumps between TSA and the tactic of an anti-TSA protest: how is it that the headline focuses on "airport protests" instead of the TSA? I'd propose a replacement: "TSA has really blown it this time, says Business Travel Coalition".

And, Kevin, if you think "groups" are behind the idea of National Opt-Out Day (opt out of virtual strip search machines at the airport on 11/24, force the TSA to give you the degrading genital pat-down instead, right where other travellers can see how bad it's gotten) then I think you are mistaken. National Opt-Out Day is a great idea which is spreading through lots of mostly independent efforts, fanned by outrage at the TSA's overreach, but not by "groups" with coordinated leadership.

I hope you would use the voice of the BTC to help the American public to stop cowering before bogeyman of terrorism and get on with life, for it's that cowering which lets the TSA get away with a "security layers" mantra. (You feed the bogeyman when you lead with the remote possibility of bombs in front of the checkpoint, instead of the certainty of TSA abuse inside the checkpoint.) I hope you would organise the BTC's constituents to lobby Congress for better control of the TSA and DHS. I hope you would stop dumping on people expressing outrage at the TSA's predations, and instead encourage those people by suggesting effective next steps after National Opt-Out Day.

Posted by: James DeLaHunt | November 22, 2010 3:14 AM    Report this comment

In America you have become tolerant of totally intolerable behaviour and John Pistole,whom I saw on CNN,was utterly ridiculous when he found certain pat downs that were shown on TV "acceptable".Even more ridiculous when he said that the same thing goes on in Europe.Bravo Sierra. I would take my life before allowing some jerk from TSA (or the equivalent) give me a groin search in the name of "this post 9/11 world" and similar rethoric.

Lupo Rattazzi Rome,Italy

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | November 22, 2010 6:07 AM    Report this comment

A little Henry Thoreau is good for the national soul.

Posted by: Michael Mahoney | November 22, 2010 7:55 AM    Report this comment

Here's what I don't understand about all this. Someone gets on a plane bound for the US in London with a shoe bomb, and US citizens now need to remove their shoes. They uncover a plot overseas to combine chemicals in everyday travel bottles into a bomb, and US citizens must limit their shampoo to 3 ounces. A whacko gets on a plane in Libia with a bomb in his shorts and US citizens must go through full body scans. Printer cartridges with explosive are put on a cargo plane in Yemen and US citizens on passenger planes get a pat down. Why don't we send the TSA to the airports in the rest of the world and let them be Draconian over there?

As far as the "opt out day", James D has it right. The "group" protesting this is the people of the United States who know government BS when they see it. It's time that the Beltway types start taking notice. Writing a congressman isn't going to accomplish that.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | November 22, 2010 7:58 AM    Report this comment

Here's what I don't understand about all this. Someone gets on a plane bound for the US in London with a shoe bomb, and US citizens now need to remove their shoes. They uncover a plot overseas to combine chemicals in everyday travel bottles into a bomb, and US citizens must limit their shampoo to 3 ounces. A whacko gets on a plane in Libia with a bomb in his shorts and US citizens must go through full body scans. Printer cartridges with explosive are put on a cargo plane in Yemen and US citizens on passenger planes get a pat down. Why don't we send the TSA to the airports in the rest of the world and let them be Draconian over there?

As far as the "opt out day", James D has it right. The "group" protesting this is the people of the United States who know government BS when they see it. It's time that the Beltway types start taking notice. Writing a congressman isn't going to accomplish that.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | November 22, 2010 7:58 AM    Report this comment

I see there has been some push back by line pilots. Obviously the TSA does respond to pressure. Maybe the rest of us need to remind them that everyone who flies is not a terrorist and they need to find less intrusive, less time wasting, less insulting and less expensive ways to deal with the problem. Can you imagine stopping and inspecting every motorist as a way to prevent accidents. Why are we allowing the TSA to operate with the same set of assumptions in our airports and largely ignore cargo and luggage, autos, trains, boats and buses. I suspect it's not just because of 9/11 but airports are a relatively easy place to control people and it gives the TSA their best opportunity to treat us as they wish and grow their industry. The recalcitrant attitude of Janet Ipolitano and TSA heads reflects an inflexible, unimaginative and arrogant position. They deserve all the push back the rest of us can muster.

Posted by: Robert Murray | November 22, 2010 8:00 AM    Report this comment

According to the TSA, these are "administrative searches". According to the Supreme Court, probable cause for administrative searches is "reasonable administrative or legislative policy."

When you factor in the small number of people killed domestically by terrorism (l.e. about one per day, on average, over the past ten years, I fail to see how sexually abusing passengers while exposing them to potentially hazardous radiation is "reasonable" or constitutional.

I'm also a little surprised about how the "safety" debate has focused on the safety of pilots and frequent travelers, but has ignored the safety of TSA screeners, Police Officers, and others who spend all day in the immediate vicinity of these machines.

Posted by: Robert Montgomery | November 22, 2010 8:28 AM    Report this comment

When was the last time the screener/groper changed their gloves? I've seen multiple people searched/groped with the same gloves.

So, if the last person they touched had shingles, and I haven't had chicken pox; I now have a change to catch a medical issue that is fatal to 10% of the population.

What will the CDC do when vector zero is a TSA agent?

Posted by: John Hyle | November 22, 2010 8:39 AM    Report this comment

I went through airport screening 3 times last week in Germany. Did not have to take off shoes or belt, screening went quickly. There were no pat downs just the wands were used. There was a good article in todays paper by George Will saying Americans do not complain enough--especially about government policies that do not work or make sense

Posted by: Ron McCormick | November 22, 2010 8:41 AM    Report this comment

I vehemently, disagree with any calls to attenuate public protest efforts. Our government has failed to respond in any meaningful way to the abuses of individual rights the TSA is perpetrating daily on our society's most vulnerable and least deserving of such attention. Each day comes news of another travesty -- rape and sexual molestation victims forced to relive their nightmares, breast cancer survivors required to remove their prostheses, a bladder cancer survivor humiliated when a careless goon spilled his iliostomy bag full of urine during a "pat down."

John Pistole said this morning on CNN TSA procedures and protocols will be reviewed, but agents will continue current policies in the mean time. Translation: We'll restore your dignity and rights... maybe. This is the answer my Mom gave me when everyone knew the answer was NO, and Mom also knew with enough time we would "get used" to the idea. If Pistole and Napolitano know there is a problem with the new policy why not simply revert to the previous policy -- which worked for nearly a decade -- while reviewing the new?

I'm tired of my government treating me like a child. If it is worried about too large a crowd on the unsecured side of the check point it, too, has an option -- stop molesting its citizens!

The larger question we should be asking is why does such a clear and unambiguous demand from the citizens result in such an astounding rebuff from a government that is supposed to be serving them?

Posted by: Mark Sletten | November 22, 2010 8:47 AM    Report this comment

The worst combination of traits an agency can possess is ignorance, arrogance and lots of money. The TSA announced earlier this year they were going to deputize their agents. Then someone with brains mentioned that if they do that they must have a warrent to do searches. So, they backed off. - Ignorance. Pistole told Congress and the President they would not change their policies - arrogance. And, Lord knows, they have lots of money. We should be very afraid.

Posted by: John Williams | November 22, 2010 8:55 AM    Report this comment

The Israelis rejected AIT because it doesn't do the job. Why subject the traveling public to a demeaning process that not only doesn't improve safety but also exposes a person to more radiation? If it doesn't detect the stuff it's supposed to detect, would it not be logical to remove the scanners? Demeaning tactics used by the TSA (e.g. the enhanced pat-down) to 'encourage' the public to accept the scanners is outrageous. The stories of humiliation (the woman who had to remove her prosthetic breast, the man who had a medical device accidentally disconnected during a brutish pat-down in MSP) are starting to grow. The arrogant responses from the Homeland Security Department ('don't fly', 'the policies are here to stay') are completely unacceptable. Homeland Security's reliance upon fearmongering to ensure sheepish compliance is losing credibility with the flying public. But perhaps an investigation into Michael Chertoff's personal monetary benefit from RapidScan (an AIT provider) is appropriate. Follow the money??

Posted by: Deb Ings | November 22, 2010 9:13 AM    Report this comment

I doubt whether drug sniffing dogs have an advocacy or lobbying group but I think it’s long past time to see if there is a more effective (and lower cost/hassle) way to prevent terrorists from killing us.

I propose a “sniff off” test under real-world conditions: TSA vs. dogs! Bomb making material should be hidden in any and every place and method that the most dedicated terrorist can conceive. If the dogs are as good as I hope they can be, your local airport could be opened to all. People who are meeting passengers could actually go to the gate (and be wearing their shoes). We would no longer be concerned with being politically correct as we are today because we’re afraid of offending those who wear ethnic or religious garments. The smaller TSA (or whatever it becomes) could then concentrate on observing and questioning passengers as EL AL Airlines has so successfully done. By the way, why don’t the airlines take responsibility for security on their planes? There is no one more concerned with keeping their aircraft in the sky and their customers alive.

With reinforced cockpits and alert passengers who have already demonstrated that anyone acting strangely will be quickly and securely immobilized, perhaps it’s something that no longer needs to be watched mechanically but instead using the same methods that have kept EL AL safe for years.

If this has already been tested, why have we not heard of it? If it has not been tried and tested, how quickly can it be?

Posted by: Robert Cowen | November 22, 2010 9:16 AM    Report this comment

Kevin, You are right when you say airports have been high value targets for 35 years. However, the fact is that the same type of attack would succeed today because the security screenings occur within the airport terminals. How does that make the airport safer?

Any potential terrorist could walk into any airport in the U.S. with an explosive device hidden inside a piece of carry-on luggage or in a larger piece of luggage ostensibly intended to be checked luggage, or even wearing a device, and not one thing prevents that person from detonating that device inside the terminal. Nor does anything prevent a car or truck bomb being detonated right outside the entrance to the terminal building at many airports.

Nothing the TSA is doing would prevent the loss of life and rate of injury any of these types of attacks would cause.

Any choke point where people tend to gather is a high value target. The security screening areas, baggage pickup and ticket counters are such points.

The security checkpoints are within the buildings, not at the entrances to the buildings, so only the portion of the buildings beyond the checkpoints can be assumed to be safe.

An airplane at the airport is probably the safest place around, but the gauntlet from the entrance of the terminal to the security checkpoints is probably the most dangerous.

Posted by: Fritz Stout | November 22, 2010 9:23 AM    Report this comment

Opt out. Every day, all the time. By the way, where are the "blowers" that sniff explosives? Wrong contractor? Not Chert-offed? The wet dream of those 1950ies boys has become reality (X-ray spectacles). And you even get paid for it. Attention, hottie coming....

Posted by: Robert Ziegler | November 22, 2010 9:33 AM    Report this comment

Jerry Plante has the right idea. For all the discomfort of taking off shoes and no water bottles, the TSA is not finding LOCALS passengers on LOCAL flight to be a problem. Pure discomfort with zero benefit.

It's time to restore sanity and stop the useless. If I ran TSA I would immediately stop the shoe removals and the fluid limit on local flights. That would go a long way in restoring a little dignity to the flying public with zero downside.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | November 22, 2010 9:38 AM    Report this comment

I will only fly commercially if there is a very compelling reason to do so, such as a family emergency, if these degrading screening procedures remain in place.

Posted by: Bill Walker | November 22, 2010 9:46 AM    Report this comment

John Pistole should be arrested for running a criminal enterprise which assaults American citizens daily. And, it is totally useless. Harrassing American citizens will not prevent terrorists. A much better idea is to profile travelers and pull out for questioning the ones with suspicious itineraries or origins. If that's not PC, so what. Groping grandmas is not only unacceptable, but criminal. Only a protest will send that message to a spineless Congress.

Posted by: John Heida | November 22, 2010 10:34 AM    Report this comment

Opt out day is democracy at its best. A day isn't enough! There should be an opt out week, month and a year. However long it takes for Washington to end TSA's tyrannical reign at our airports. I couldn't be more proud of Americans rising up and standing firm against these measures. Our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness is on the line.

Posted by: Joel Boucree | November 22, 2010 10:40 AM    Report this comment

I could not imagine a more America response than a peaceful protest against such an egregious action and a government agency run amok. These virtual strip searches and the OPT OUT sexual assaults are plainly violations no free people should tolerate. The TSA insists on security measures that have little real value because the bad guys are always coming up with new ways to create a terror event. This bunch cannot even perform effectively enough to stop real bad guys that are on no fly or terror watch lists, why should we have any confidence that this security kabuki is doing anything more that irritating and delaying the traveling public. The pat down of a screaming 6 year old, a grandmother in a wheel chair, the guy with the colostomy bag (surprised they did not arrest him for concealing and trying to bring on more than 3 oz of liquid) are all examples of why this method will never yield any effective security or prevention. Add to that the call to exempt Muslim women on religious grounds from these searches (or allowing them to do self-searches) and it is clear this has nothing to do with security. What is sad is that such a large percentage of the American population is willing to give up their freedom under the pretext of security by the government. This is a cowardly act that dishonors to so many that have fought and died to provide the very freedom they so easily surrender. OPT OUT, you bet I will, and I will never enter one of those machines.

Posted by: John Salak | November 22, 2010 2:08 PM    Report this comment

If the TSA told me that the sky was blue, I would not believe them until I went outside and checked for myself.

The TSA has totally lost the confidence and respect of the traveling public.

They are REactive to things that have already happened, and not PROactive enough to see past their own noses. Time for a change in leadership.

Posted by: Steve Fremgen | November 22, 2010 2:38 PM    Report this comment

This (US) government that says the screening devices are safe... is that the same government that said, "Don't worry guys, Agent Orange can't hurt you?"

Posted by: fred wilson | November 22, 2010 3:39 PM    Report this comment

Just for fun, assume that Kevin Mitchell is an employee of the TSA. Then go back and read the above article again. Reads differently, doesn't it?

Posted by: fred wilson | November 22, 2010 3:41 PM    Report this comment

As pilots this is academic at some level. We can still jump into our cessnas and avoid the chaos. The TSA would LOVE to go after part91 ops. More money, more control etc. What I'm surprised by is the lack of sexual assault charges. If I'm selected for the scanner I'll opt out. If my groin is touched I'm immediately filing a sexual assault report with the local DA. If enough people follow this procedure this "security theater" will end and we can move to an effective profiling-based approach to dealing with terrorism.

Posted by: a b | November 22, 2010 3:42 PM    Report this comment

Re the safety of scanners - the UCSF group (Sedat Agard etc.) that wrote about the dangers are basically the smartest people on earth as it relates to imaging. I actually work with them as I'm in the same field. If they say the scanners are unsafe, they are unsafe.

Posted by: a b | November 22, 2010 3:44 PM    Report this comment

As for BTC, here's the Web site. Judge for yourself:

http://businesstravelcoalition.com/#

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 22, 2010 4:36 PM    Report this comment

As soon as I can believe my camera or valuables won't get stolen out of my checked baggage, then I'll believe the airside is secure.

Posted by: John Jones | November 22, 2010 7:37 PM    Report this comment

My biggest concern is over the safety of the X-ray Body Scanners, especially on frequent fliers. If these body scanners were to be made commercially available for sale where the public would be the ultimate user, wouldn't the FDA prohibit use, until studies, following a rigorous protocol sometimes for as long as 3 years, proved unequivocally the safety and efficacy on human beings? So how can the TSA use such a device on the public without any research other than asking a few questions of a Johns Hopkins Medical facility? I don't get it. Have not our Governmental decision makes learned nothing from White Sands in 1945?...from Agent Orange in the 70's?

Posted by: Ronald Tarrson | November 22, 2010 10:53 PM    Report this comment

Because I am active on a medical site (Cystic Fibrosis), here is part of a post I received today from a woman who has CF: In Sept while flying from one Canadian city to another, when I went through sercuity they opened my medical supply bag, took out my ostomy supplies, held the pouch ( used to collect waste from my surgical site) held it up for all to see, before handling the remainder of my supplies and medications. I was outraged but so embarrassed I wanted to cry. If that was not bad enough, he did't even change his gloves from the person's lugggage before me: How was I to know how clean that person was, and with all the bacterium, viruses and even bedbugs, how was I to know what that person may have had on their belongings. In Dec, I think I will go through the scanner, rather than having a pat down: Who knows: maybe they will want to detatch the puch from my body to see that I am not carrying counterband. I understand the need for security and our sister countries for keeping us safe, but at what cost to human degradation?

Posted by: fred wilson | November 23, 2010 10:58 AM    Report this comment

For all you junk-sensitives and touchy-feely types. A friend saw a Marine at Sky Harbor last nite going thru security on his way to Oakland who was asked to remove his metal hand and forearm for inspection. All went smoothly, so my friend rushed over to ask him about how he felt about being felt, etc. He said he has an obligation to his fellow Americans to never show the enemy any weakness or sympathy, so he is happy to go thru our airport security process to at least show that we are serious about keeping them off our planes, however flawed though it may be.

You who parade the infirmed and weak as victims of crimes by TSA might consider in 2002 the young woman arrested with an 8 year old daughter in tow in Israel who was loaded not with pregnancy but bombs as a belly.

Terrorism is an asymmetric challenge. TSA has to be right every single time, the bad guys/gals only once. The TSA should constantly re-evaluate its procedures for safety, effectiveness, and consideration for passengers.

I have never had a bad experience with them. My attitude always is the sole determinative factor, not the attitude of others. With that, some creativity, and maybe a little humor, the terrorists will feel we are unaffected by their efforts.

Disrupt our own people, our own economy on the busiest travel day of the year with an 'opt out' protest, they'll toast our stupidity with the finest wine available, if they can stop laughing long enough to raise their glass.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 23, 2010 1:27 PM    Report this comment

Per Dave Miller “TSA has to be right every single time, the bad guys/gals only once.”. I disagree.

Obviously, the only transportation security process that could be 100% effective would be to completely shut down all transportation.

The second statement, that the bad guys need to be right only once, is also flawed and furthermore the idea behind it is, in my opinion, the underlying source of most of our security problems. We have been brainwashed into believing that we can and should be absolutely, totally protected from any risk whatsoever. This leads to all the idiotic safety/security nonsense we must endure, from people sticking their digits into our privates all the way down to the labels on buckets that warn of drowning hazard if you fill it with liquid and immerse your head into it.

Posted by: John Wilson | November 23, 2010 5:29 PM    Report this comment

Actually, the source is our fear. Our 'security problems' are merely a reflection of that fear. Blaming the TSA is like blaming the infection because we didn't treat the cut.

It is precisely your argument that should lead us to a greater understanding that the Marine and myself believe to be true. Sorry you seem to have missed that.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 23, 2010 6:28 PM    Report this comment

Blaming the TSA is like blaming the infection because we didn't treat the cut.<<

I don't see it that way. The TSA is uniquely insular, arrogant and secretive and wholly unresponsive to public concerns. We, as the flying public, did not ask for that. If the flying public expects some reasonable mitigation of risk, it can expect to put up with some intrusion.

We expect the government and TSA to figure out where that balance is. What you are witnessing now may be the public telling the TSA they've got it wrong. In my view, the TSA is the infection. And we are treating it with our reaction.

As for the Marine not showing weakness, he is misguided on that point, his sacrifice notwithstanding. The strong ones are those who stand on principle and draw the line somewhere, rationally measuring unfounded fear against loss of privacy and liberty. They are telling terrorists...you will not cower me into this. "Going along with it" is sheep to the slaughter, salving yourself with the false notion of "safety."

If they--we--do not push back, government will continue to encroach in the name of providing us the protection they imagine we demand.

The reality is that government's cause is to build and preserve more government. "Protection" is secondary. In the case of TSA, it's probably tertiary.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 23, 2010 7:23 PM    Report this comment

The cut(9/11) happened, we (the populace) handled our emotions poorly, so the infection (Homeland Security birthing TSA) ensued from our demanding fear...that was my point all along. It's our creation, though it's maybe a Frankenstein, it's still ours. So yes, we need to see it re-evaluate itself for safety, effectiveness and passenger rights constantly. I said that in my post.

But your pretzel logic, Paul, also reminds me of boot camp years ago in South Carolina. With the drill sargent screaming at us and reminding us he was our new Mom, all of us walked, behaved and marched in patterned unison and form. I'm sure someone like you observing us from the outside thought we were all sheep - doing just what the DS wanted.

But the appearance wasn't the truth. I went to my hometown airport inside whenever the DS was in my face, others found their own separation for survival. The point is that no one felt like sheep - all were in it presumably for the greater good, appearing strong and unified, even if we were far from it in reality.

The Marine and I are concerned with the appearance toward the terrorists - not whether some in the security lines think they are safer by the process. I don't know anyone who believes that. But instead of going to the top of TSA for change methodically and purposefully, they see us as emotionally angry, complaining and causing damage to ourselves only with the opt-out day and 'Don't touch my junk' t-shirts. As my son would say, fail.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 23, 2010 11:41 PM    Report this comment

The Marine and I are concerned with the appearance toward the terrorists <<

The Marine can speak for himself, I suppose, but what you appear to be is mainly fearful, which is exactly how asymmetric warfare is supposed to work. Last week, al-Quaeda AP came out with its own magazine called Inspire (http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/300530). It featured an article in English crowing about how AQAP spent only $4200 on its printer bomb project and how it has managed to tie up billions in resources in response. You make that possible and, moreover, you support it--the spending of the billions, that is.

Why is it in English? Because you are the audience. Despite an attack risk probability less than that of a lightning strike, people who think we should all go along "for appearances" are the great enablers of groups like AQAP and government over reach on security issues. In your world. when cavity searches come along, will you just bend over? AQ pulls the string; you dance? Or have we just not reached the point where you say enough?

You're right about the post 911 response. But it was understandable. The true measure of a society and an effective government, in my view, is how it adjusts after the fact. The populace is adjusting, the government is not because some--if not most--of its security initiatives are driven by money for Congress by the companies who make this stuff.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 24, 2010 4:00 AM    Report this comment

I mean no disrespect to you or the Marine you describe. I went through boot camp, too. But there is no comparison between civilians in a security line and soldiers training to function and survive in combat. If there's any pretzel logic here, that's it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 24, 2010 4:01 AM    Report this comment

The most effective protest would be to just stop travelling by airline.

Posted by: Larry Rice | November 24, 2010 7:13 AM    Report this comment

Believe and see what you want to, Paul. But taking out your personal fight with whatever you are battling within yourself on me is cheap and inexcusable.

Best wishes, Happy Turkey Day to you and yours. It was a great flight while it lasted.

Posted by: Dave Miller | November 24, 2010 9:04 AM    Report this comment

...and Rosa Parks should have just taken a seat in the back of the bus.

Posted by: Pat Gardner | November 24, 2010 10:47 AM    Report this comment

But taking out your personal fight with whatever you are battling within yourself on me is cheap and inexcusable.<<

Huh?

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | November 24, 2010 10:58 AM    Report this comment

TSA reacts instead of responding proactively to threats. Someone carries on explosive liquids, average passengers are limited in what they can carry on. Someone attempts to use a shoe bomb, and we all have to take off our shoes. Someone puts a bomb in their underwear and now we are to be electronically strip searched or groped.

Terrorists have already experimented with bombs placed inside the body (out of detection range by scanners or pat downs but not body cavity searches). Once that is attempted, pity the poor airline passenger that gets chosen for that random check!!

Why do other countries or airlines (EL AL comes to mind) not use these Draconian measures and yet have no problems with terrorists? Something isn't right.

Posted by: JAMES WAGNER | November 24, 2010 11:43 AM    Report this comment

The Israelis profile passengers at Ben Gurion, and do not use AIT or intrusive, demeaning patdowns. Also, AIT, according the GAO (and the Israelis), doesn't really work. To me, wasting taxpayer resources on this stuff (vs. cargo screening etc) is more of the argument to be made here, than how we 'present ourselves' to the terrorists (i.e, showing 'solidarity' by sheepishly moving through the new scanners etc). The Israelis profile effectively and so should we. As a single-white female traveling from Ben Gurion Airport to JFK in 1990, I was profiled as a possbible 'mule'. I was pulled out of line, interrogated for an hour and a half, and all of my luggage was thoroughly searched. Never mind that I was an active duty U.S. Air Force pilot at the time etc, I fit a profile and the Israelis did their job. Meanwhile, I noticed Palestininan families move unimpeded through security without interference from Israeli screeners. So profiling can be more nuanced than simple racial, religious characteristics.. We could learn a lot from the experts 'over there' and allocate resources properly.

Posted by: Deb Ings | November 24, 2010 2:34 PM    Report this comment

I'm with Paul. Someone needs to articulate the alternate viewpoints. Keep up the good work Paul.

Posted by: Mick Brannigan | November 24, 2010 2:52 PM    Report this comment

Visible public protest and disruption is the only real vote we Americans have left in order to stop a "Government Gone wild". American Voices.

Posted by: Keith Laken | November 26, 2010 1:35 PM    Report this comment

For an extraordinary perspective on this topic, read "The real threat to America" by Roger Cohen in today's or yesterday's NY Times. I don't think you can put it any better.

Lupo Rattazzi Rome,Italy

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | November 26, 2010 3:01 PM    Report this comment

Thank you Lupo for drawing our attention to "The real threat to America" article. Here's a link to it --- http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html

Posted by: Mick Brannigan | November 26, 2010 8:50 PM    Report this comment

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