Are the New TSA Measures Solving the Problem?

The topic of TSA screening procedures and the new full-body scanners is certainly a controversial subject.  My colleagues, Charlie Howell and Laura Williams, have done an excellent job at opening our eyes to various elements of the discussion.  And there are a number of angles and opinions about it. 

In the office here, we will occasionally stand around discussing a topic and someone will inevitably walk up and ask if we are “solving” the world’s problems.  We all get a good laugh out of it and the truth is we won’t actually “solve” anything.  The issues surrounding the TSA screening is another one of those topics that will not be “solved,” but rather it will be security measure that is always a work in progress. The primary reason: because there will always be a threat to our way of life.  So I thought I would add a few more thoughts to the discussion.

TSA has been so focused on the “passenger” as a threat.  And perhaps rightfully so considering it has historically been passengers that hijack an airplane.  However, terrorists will find alternative methods to carry out their plans.  Remember pre-9/11? Terrorists tried to take down the World Trade Center Towers through a truck bomb in the garage.  When they failed, they resorted to the air.  If the notion that the passenger is the only real threat, then what’s next? A body-cavity search?  After all, drug dealers are known for using a body cavity to hide drugs.  There are so many other ways a terrorist could circumvent passenger screening to carry out an attack.  Have you ever seen TSA screening or monitoring the aircraft at the gate?  Or the food, drink or other supplies being loaded on the airplane?  How effective is the security around the perimeter of the airport and the ability for someone to be dressed like a crew member to gain access to the flight line?  I’m sure we could explore other vulnerabilities.

Many in the security industry whom I’ve spoken with about this seem to agree on two points. First, TSA screening may actually be a little effective. However, it is only effective with respect to the passenger. For the most part it is a façade of procedures to make the public feel safer. Of course, while it may alleviate stress for some people others’ stress levels will increase due to what they deem is inappropriate touching, scanning of their body, or infringing on their rights as a citizen. Nevertheless, there are far more other risks that are not typically discussed because it doesn’t directly affect the public.  Secondly, it’s all about the money. Some in our industry believe that if a company can sell an idea to the government then the government will spend the money.  According to an MSN article, $1 billion has been slated for full-body scanners, and we have spent $40 billion on passenger screening since 9/11.

As I stated in the beginning we are not going to “solve” any problems within our discussions, but let me leave you with a final thought.  We as a country definitely need to weigh the risks and use a measured and practical approach to protecting ourselves and each other.  As we accomplish this task, we need to also consider how much we are giving in to our freedoms as a people because that may end up being our demise.  The 4th Amendment states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Interesting, huh?

Posted by Darren A. Nix on Nov 17, 2010


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