Thought-Games and the TSA
The TSA has hit the headlines again — this time for “lax security” at Newark’s airport. A federal audit found screeners snoozing on the job when they weren’t stealing from passengers or watching luggage whiz past rather than searching it for explosives.
Same old, same old: the TSA’s troubles at Newark also hogged headlines last April. Nothing’s changed since then, despite a new “Federal Security Director” at the airport and innumerable promises from politicians.
Nor is Newark alone. Across the Hudson and East Rivers, New York's JFK International Airport recently made a name for brutalizing elderly women: Lenore Zimmerman, 85, accused the TSA of strip-searching her there. The agency denied this, as usual — but two more grandmothers stepped forward with similar stories.
It’s no better elsewhere. In Hawaii, the TSA recently fired 28 malingerers at Honolulu International for failing to search baggage. Cops nationwide continue arresting the agency’s personnel for theft, whether of a Montblanc pen in Florida or iPads — multiple — in Dallas. And perhaps most disgustingly of all, screeners across the country face charges of pedophilia. Turns out creeps who molest little kids at the airport often do so at home, too.
Even if the TSA hired only paragons who never free-lanced, their official “duties” are crimes in any other context. Try heading to work tomorrow and swiping your colleague’s toothpaste merely because it’s a gel. Or sticking your hands down his pants to explore his “junk.”
By now, the TSA has amply demonstrated that the worst threat facing flyers isn’t terrorism but its own blue-shirted thugs at the checkpoints. So why does the agency still exist?
Primarily because too many passengers still believe its checkpoint charade protects them. They insist that only the TSA prevents flights from falling out of the sky.
Indeed, these True Believers are so sure of themselves that they often challenge heretics with the following question: “OK, you don’t want safe flights” — which is a red herring, of course: everyone wants safe flights, we just don’t want the TSA — “but if there were two planes at the airport, going to the same destination, and one had the TSA screening for bombs while the other had everyone just getting on, no search, nothing, I bet I know which one you’d choose!”
I bet you don’t.
Regardless, this is exactly the reality that should prevail. It allows everyone to choose the amount of security he prefers. People who fear that fingernail clippers could sabotage the flight can line up for the TSA’s grope-fest. Passengers who prize dignity and their right to be free of “unreasonable search and seizure” over security theater will head for the other plane.
Though they probably won’t board without some sort of security, especially if we expand the scenario to all flights. Just as other industries offer us a range of options, airlines will too. Want electric locks on that new car? Or will you rest content only when there’s a burglar alarm, too? Likewise, “Safe Skies” may advertise that it rifles every bag; “Rambo Air” might instead issue stun-guns at the cabin’s door so passengers can defend themselves.
There’s only one problem: the TSA will never permit such liberty and choice, any more than it currently allows airports to replace its atrocities with “private” security. (Which actually isn’t so private: yes, a company rather than a bureaucracy will hire the screeners and issue their paychecks — but the TSA will still “supervise,” dictating absolutely every move they make on the job and forcing them to paw and pester passengers just as do the goons that the TSA directly employs.)
So we’re back to abolishing the TSA.