Don't Tread on Me!
--USNavy Jack (1775)
Don't Taze me, bro!
--U.S. citizen to police
Don't touch my junk!
--U.S. citizen to TSA employee
There is much emotion and little logic being applied to the topic of T.S.A., or the "Department of Fear". To be rational we must ask, what is the mission and objective of TSA security -- the "Whys" as well as the "What".
In "The Real Threat to America", NYT columnist Richard Cohen gets it right:
What form of group madness is it that forsakes judgment and discernment for process run amok?
I don’t doubt the patriotism of the Americans involved in keeping the country safe, nor do I discount the threat, but I am sure of this: The unfettered growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the T.S.A. represent a greater long-term threat to the prosperity, character and wellbeing of the United States than a few madmen in the valleys of Waziristan or the voids of Yemen.
America is a nation of openness, boldness and risk-taking. Close this nation, cow it, constrict it and you unravel its magic.
Before discussing Why and How, we must realistically define the range markers of commercial passenger air travel. What is achievable, and what are we doing. A realistic threat analysis is necessary, something which is in short supply these days. What are we achieving with our security measures, and what are we paying for the dubious returns?
Paranoia and overreaction is not the basis for security. There is no such thing as a 100% security posture, but TSA officials indicate that without their efforts we will be open to future attacks. Maybe, maybe not, but sans realistic threat analyses and knowledge of threat capabilities, we cannot know.
Pro forma, this data is hidden from the public. We are expected to accept the security measures without knowing the facts, or even the lack of facts. Airport security is like religion: We are asked to have faith and belief without observable proof that our faith is anything but illusion.
The best security is RANDOM and UNPREDICTABLE, exactly the opposite of the present TSA approach. Even in an ideal security environment we lack the time or assets to screen every traveler. especially when there is no immanent threat.
The U.S. is a nation that spends hundreds of billions of dollars annually on intelligence functions which serve as a major level of security. Airport security is an inner level of security based upon real-time outer level security. The inner level cannot operate at 100% if the outer security is not commensurate.
Today's TSA policies are frantic efforts having the feel of meaningless yet invasive busy work. If the efforts were real, none of us would complain or criticize, but that does not seem to be the case.
Ranger news flash: If a bomb gets aboard a domestic U.S. flight, it will NOT get aboard through boarding gates, and if it does, it will not be a device sufficient to bring down a commercial aircraft. The shoe and crotch bombs did not infiltrate through U.S. boarding gates, so it is questionable to react to a threat that cannot be shown to actually exist. TSA policy lacks initiative, having surrendered it to a nebulous terror threat.
Here is another news flash: Except for Jihad Jane -- another sorry little loser -- the U.S. citizenry is NOT the threat, although TSA policy considers us as such. We are reacting to a murky threat. If our government does not trust its citizens, then the citizens should not trust the government!
The final shame of the TSA farceurs is that this first line of defense lacks the training and supervision to spot a terrorist if one were chewing on their ass. What does a terrorist look like? What does a sophisticated professional explosive device look like?
Laptops and cell phones are more dangerous and adaptable than are little bottles of liquid or crummy little nail clippers. Nail clippers can't detonate a device, but a modified cell phone or laptop sure could. Ranger also wonders why sniffer dogs and devices have been eclipsed by invasive and questionable X-ray searches? Wired magazine reports bomb sniffing dogs are over 50% more capable than the best devices for detecting the presence of a bomb (80% to 50%).
A U.S. security posture which does not provide security at an exorbitant and unjustifiable cost is in question. The irony of TSA security is that the citizens being protected are also treated as the threat. We no longer honor the concept of legal search or even legal seizure. When nail clippers are confiscated, how can this be viewed as anything but a travesty? By what authority do federal employees confiscate our property, even so small and insignificant one as a clipper? What happened to the concept of due cause to search?
If government has the right to encumber its citizens with invasive searches, then we have ceased to be a democracy. This is no longer BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE, but what government can do TO THE PEOPLE. Again, if the exchange were equable and we were more secure as a result, we would capitulate, but that is unprovable equation.
We relinquish our rights and freedoms, receiving nothing in return, and laughably, we have to pay for the loss. Kafka is surely enjoying this turn of events.
Is this another case of, as author James Brady says, "the minutiae of tactics at the expense of overall strategy"?