New security procedures at airports in the wake of the foiled attempt to blow up an airliner in the skies over Detroit last Christmas have both airline pilots and passengers in open revolt. The alternative is to either submit to body scans or a physical pat down.
According to Reuters, even children are being subjected to pat downs, even in the genital area.
“Privacy groups have challenged the new body scanners in court, saying they are a violation of privacy and illegal. Lawmakers plan to hold hearings on aviation security next week when they return to Washington.
“Some travelers are also livid about how children are being screened. During a trip last Sunday by a father and son through Orlando airport in Florida, the 8-year-old boy was selected for extra screening by TSA after going through the metal detector.
“The father said the officer described the procedure before conducting it. Then he patted down the boy in the open security area, using the backside of his hands to check his genital area, he said.”
While understanding that the attempted bombing over Detroit involved a man who had secreted explosives in his underwear, one wonders if there is perhaps not a better method to combat against that sort of thing besides using a device that essentially strips one naked or feeling people up on their naughty bits.
Air travel has become hellish enough with cramped seating and bad food service, but it seems that security procedures have become more and more onerous with each attempted terrorist attack. True, it is better to be felt up by some TSA drone with cold hands than to fall from 30,000 feet while a plane disintegrates around one, but it looks like the amount of security that it takes just to board a plane has started to reach the point that it is stopping people from flying.
It was once joked that the ultimate security measure would be to force people to fly while naked. One wonders how long that will remain a joke.
The question that should be addressed should be how to prevent people from carrying something on board a plane that could destroy it without destroying the dignity of people who just want to get to that business meeting or family reunion on time and in safety.
In turns out that there are no easy answers, short of accepting some amount of risk in exchange for relaxing security. It should be noted that both the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber were subdued by passengers and did not succeed in blowing themselves and the planes they were on up.
At the same time, the terrorists are endlessly inventive. Thwarting their plans to wreak havoc involves intelligence and a willingness to destroy the terrorists themselves wherever they are far more than making innocent airline passengers subject to treatment that would be a felony under most other circumstances. Sadly, it is considered safer for the bureaucracy to have people complain about being felt up than to have to explain how some terrorist got a bomb onto a plane.
No doubt the next attempt will involve explosives that can be swallowed and detonated with gastric acid. If and when that happens, one wonders what measures will be taken to prevent that.
Sources: Terrorist Attack Over Detroit Averted on Christmas Day, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, December 26th, 2009
Pilots and passengers rail at new airport patdowns, Jeremy Pelofsky, Reuters, November 11th, 2010