You’re likely aware that the TSA has been putting new scanning machines in airports around the country, as well as, policies for a more ‘invasive’ pat-down procedure should an ‘anomaly’ show up on the scan, or should the passenger choose to opt-out of the scan. This post isn’t about the potential health concerns of the scanning, nor the likening of the pat-down procedure to sexual assault. This post is largely about the effectiveness of the TSA as an organization when it comes to the safety of Americans.
9/11 was obviously one of the major tragedies in American history. It was a horrific event, causing thousands of people to prematurely lose their lives, led by a group of men who overtook the airplanes using items such as box-cutters, fear, etc. What happened? Summarizing what I understand to be the driving factor behind creation of the “Department of Homeland Security“: lack of communication and sharing of intelligence amongst government agencies. Could the events that unfolded that tragic morning have been prevented, had proper communication channels been available? We’ll never know. Regardless, the American public needed to know it was safe to fly in the immediate days, weeks, months, even years following. Steps were taken. DHS was created. Cockpit doors reinforced. Additional training and ticketing procedures were put in place to raise flags.
Then, the shoe bomber. His attempts to detonate the plane failed, but it gives the TSA another reactionary element to their scanning procedures. We now take our shoes off to be scanned.
Enter the underwear bomber of Christmas 2009. On an International flight to Detroit, he attempts to detonate a device he has hidden in his underwear. The attempt to cause destruction, ultimately fails.
Now we have scanners that see through clothes. Do you see the pattern? Everything to this point from the TSA has been reactionary. In the years following 9/11, were there attempted hijackings of domestic flights? None that I’m aware of. Were there any cases of explosive devices found in the shoes we all removed to have scanned? Again, none that I’m aware of. It has only been a year, but no other individual has attempted to ignite his underwear, that I’m aware of, on a domestic flight within the US, let alone another international flight. We does the government assume that terrorist organizations will only use air travel as a means of destruction? It happened once. Yes, it was tragic, horrible, and inexplicably terrible. But, does that mean we should now assume everyone is a suspect if they’re flying? It doesn’t make sense.
Why is security so paramount to air travel to the extent it is today? The metal detector and baggage scans appear to be working just fine. Statistically speaking, I’m putting myself in MORE danger by choosing to drive than I am flying in a plane that is full of unscanned individuals.
As a corollary, does anyone fear entering a Federal building upon the chance that someone could park a Ryder van outside packed with explosives? No. Measures were taken in the months following, I believe, to ensure a vehicle could not be parked so close to the building, but no rights are violated, no one is searched beyond a metal detector as a means of entering the building.
Logically, it just doesn’t make sense that this much security is required to partake in air travel. More people die in DUI related accidents than were ever killed in 9/11 – yet, there are no checkpoints upon entering the interstate. There is no alcohol detection required to start a vehicle.