November 17th, 2010

Those TSA body scans

I haven’t written much about this yet, but I know it’s a hot topic.

I’m all for airport security. The problem is that what used to just be a minor hassle for the average passenger is becoming more than that. These scans and pat-downs may have crossed a line of diminishing returns.

There is no perfect approach to thwarting terrorists, but we seem to be escalating our defenses by annoying and even invading the rights of passengers in ways that don’t clearly provide any benefit. What’s more, it still appears that it’s all at the expense of profiling.

I was especially struck with this passage in the AP story I linked in the first line of this post:

But compared to security in some other countries, Schwieterman [a Chicago-based transportation expert] argued, procedures in the U.S. are far from intrusive.

In Israel, where Palestinians attacked planes in the 1970s, passengers face tough questioning and multiple inspections. Single women who are not Israeli citizens are sometimes inspected more intensely because militants have tried to use them as couriers.

What is not spelled out in that quote is that the entire Israeli system is based on rigorous profiling. That’s too non-PC for us. It seems the government considers it okay to subject passengers to all sorts of inconveniences and even invade their body privacy, as long as the offenses are borne by everyone equally and no demographic is singled out, even if it would be reasonable to do so. Is prevention of profiling worth the cost?

64 Responses to “Those TSA body scans”

  1. Occam's Beard Says:

    Profiling = good police work.

    Those most objecting to profiling criminals = those who fit the criminal profile.

    Simple, really.

    Law enforcement routinely profiles by sex and age, as they should. Young males are ever so slightly more likely to be arrested than blue-haired grandmothers.

    But that’s because police concentrate on the former and ignore all the rowdiness and crimes of the latter. /liberal

  2. Tatyana Says:

    I want them to publish statistic of positive results for their searches starting after 9/11. How many terrorists they have discovered, what nationality/gender/age were they? What tipped off the security personnel?
    I wouldn’t insist on publicity (normally I’d consider it airline’s business how they approach security of their customers) if they didn’t make it a federal offense or refusal to provide service to people who don’t want to comply with violations of privacy.

  3. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Amen, OB. Asking a policeman not to profile is asking him to ignore his instincts, slow him down, and throw away an extremely valuable tool — which can get him killed at crunch time.

    And Neo, thanks for pointing out the Israeli approach. (Something worth remembering, by the way, is that it works; Israeli airport security hasn’t failed in a very long time, in spite of daily terrorist threats.) Here’s a good link on the subject, for anyone who wants more information.

    Surprisingly, there’s nothing especially secret about the Israeli approach to security. The methods are heavily dependent on trained professionals who look for people, not weapons (because a weapon could be anything, but it must be wielded by a person). That, and some clever techniques for localizing damage in the worst case; read in the linked article about ‘bomb boxes’, for example. (When I was in the IDF, twenty years ago, nearly every public bus stop had something of the sort — and we knew where they were, and how to use them.)

    The question then becomes — given that a sensible alternative exists to the increasingly unsensible things we’re doing now, what will it take for things to change here? Will it take a massive passenger boycott, with some well-respected airlines going bankrupt? Will it take some serious scalp-taking at TSA and/or DHS?

    I read somewhere recently that it’s permissible, under certain circumstances, for an airport to opt out of using TSA and hire its own security service instead. If so, wouldn’t it be interesting if a relatively small airport did that, and hired a security team working on the Israeli model? That would then be an airport with minimal hassles or lines, no need to take off your shoes or prove you’re not carrying liquids or nail clippers, no need to arrive at the airport two hours ahead of time. I think the market would drive a lot of business towards such an airport.

    Daniel in Brookline

  4. Amy Kane Says:

    I’m in favor of the Israelification of U.S. airports, as described in this article.

    “First, it’s fast — there’s almost no line. That’s because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re not looking for everything they look for in North America. They just look at you,” said Sela. “Even toda…y with the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death. But they will never look at you, at how you behave. They will never look into your eyes … and that’s how you figure out the bad guys from the good guys.”

    Also loved Krauthammer last night on FOX:

    KRAUTHAMMER: Out of all this, an American hero emerges, a guy refusing the pat-down and scanning by saying, “Don’t touch my junk.” That’s the banner of the year 2010. It doesn’t have the elegance of “Don’t tread on me,” but that was the age of the musket. This is the age of Twitter. It’s got a directness that I really like.

    And over the ages people have come up with hundreds of words to describe the private parts. This guy just invented a new one. It’s quite remarkable.

    Look, the point he’s trying to make here is we’re completely insane. The Israelis understand how to do it. You look for not the object, but the terrorist. Unless we do that, it’s insanity. Everyone in these lines knows that 90 percent of these inspections are completely worthless and done for political correctness and for appearance. You cut it out and you can have real inspection and safety.

  5. holmes Says:

    They will need to exempt airports from rece and religion-based civil rights legislation, at least as they treat their customers, or nothing will change even if they opt out of TSA (which they won’t do, since they are not directly bearing those financial burdens [as far as I know]).

  6. expat Says:

    Have the ever gotten the no-fly and watch lists up to snuff, or are these also less than optimal because of PC baloney? I saw that NJ Conservatives are not as enamoured with Christie as many of us, but I sure would love to see him take on the CAIR people the next time they mention rights.

  7. Curtis Says:

    Question to TSA official: So, I have to give up my privacy rights to fly?

    Answer: Yes. For your protection.

    Question: What about my unborn baby.

    Answer: There your privacy rights are inviolate. Further, we suggest you kill it. The world’s getting overpopulated.

  8. gs Says:

    1. Daniel in Brookline Says: …what will it take for things to change here? Will it take a massive passenger boycott, with some well-respected airlines going bankrupt?

    I fear that the government would use that as a pretext to nationalize those airlines.

    2. I am nonplussed by this poll showing strong support for the new scanners.

  9. Adrian Day Says:

    Without profiling, security measures of any sort are a pointless and expense exercise that annoy everyone and accomplish nothing.

    Either exercise security based on known terrorist demographics or don’t both at all. Security measures as they now stand accomplish only one thing. They make liberals feel good and prop up their fantasy worldview. Same as all other liberal endeavors.

    I guess if I worked for NPR, I’d be out of a job just now.

  10. holmes Says:

    @ Adrian Day,

    While I love a good liberal bash, let’s not pretend this is all of their doing. This began with the Bush years in response to a “crisis” (just like TARP, and any other banana republic/suspension of law acts), and has recently escalated…which was the natural progression. They put bombs in shoes. We take off our shoes. They put bombs in their pants. We have to take off our pants, etc. They ship UPS bombs from Yemen, we suspend traffic from Yemen…wait, we didn’t do that.

  11. geran Says:

    Airport security is a real issue, but this appears to be more targeted at individual rights. Dogs that can detect explosives are cheap and effective. Metal detectors are effective.

    If we have to give up so many rights, why not a national ID system–picture ID, thumb prints, etc. that can separate law-abiding citizens from murderers? (Oh, I guess illegals then could not fly!)

    I hope I don’t have to fly until this is sorted out….

  12. LAG Says:

    I’m amazed at this. Ask someone which they prefer: 1-a couple of minutes of intrusive annoyance by a government employee, or 2-being scattered in small pieces across the landscape when their plane comes apart at 35,000 feet.

    In a sane conversation, everyone avoids choice #2, yet we behave (I include myself, too!) as if #1 is the tragedy when it’s not really a lot worse than going to the DMV or traffic court. I can’t figure it out either, but it’s fun to watch. Also, I don’t have to fly for business anymore, thank god.

    On a happy note, I think I read recently that the Dept of Labor has now given TSA the right to unionize. That’s bound to help.

  13. LAG Says:

    I forgot to add that “don’t touch my junk” is now the air travelers watch words (or the title of a great song).

  14. holmes Says:

    @LAG- we have the same chance of being struck by lightning as we do dying in a terrorist act. The harm in terror is the recency effect- the over-impact of the dramatic act on our minds. We’re not scarred by car accidents when we see them, though they claim far higher numbers.

    This is about striking the appropriate balance, and it is not irrational to say we have tipped too far in favor of intrusion, especially when the benefits of that intrusion are hardly clear or certain.

  15. M J R Says:

    I get the impression that much of the uproar may not be to the intrusive search per se, but to the fact that TSA/USA refuses to adhere to common-sense measures (non-pee-cee) — Israeli-style profiling, for starters — but can be overbearingly meticulous in adhering to less effective, albeit reasonable, measures (I had to forfeit my little pocket knife recently).

    Put another way, if they were ^serious^ about catching the terrorist cretins, and putting them away ^permanently^, I’ll add, I/we might be more forgiving of the intrusive inconveniences associated with measures ^after^ TSA/USA has taken the ^serious^ measures first. But they’re just not ^really^ serious, are they?

    ‘Cause if they were . . . aaaah, never mind.

  16. J.J. formerly Jimmy J. Says:

    As a frequent flyer, I literally seethe every time I go through airport security. As the passengers wend their way through endless corridors leading to the actual baggage check area, I am amazed that more people are not as enraged as I about this stupid, PC procedure. The fact that a few evil men can turn the people of a great nation into “sheeple” is a tragedy and a cruel joke.

    Allow frequent fliers, air crew, and anyone who wants to go through a one time security background check (fee of $500) that qualifies them for a high tech, unalterable ID that gets them in the minimal security (simple profiling by experts) line. Activate intelligent, tiered security ala the Israel model for all other passengers.

    Make trying to sabotage an aircraft a crime punishable only by death. When a terrorist is caught (the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber) proceed quickly with a trial and a public execution by firing squad where the bullets are dipped in pig fat.

  17. NJcon Says:

    Once the public allows the current TSA procedures to stand the terrorist will choose a new tool. Thankfully, I haven’t flown in a couple of years, but being crotch searched to ride NJTransit during rush hour isn’t my idea of a fun night out.

    BTW, I don’t believe these airport screenings have anything to do with our safety. I’m more apt to believe they are more inline with the theme Art writes about.

  18. Occam's Beard Says:

    Let’s cut to the chase, and dispense with all political correctness.

    Profiling has come into opprobrium because blacks don’t like it, and made a stink about it (“driving while black”). On the other hand, blacks are disproportionately involved in crime. There’s a reason why prison populations are disproportionately black, why black districts of cities have disproportionately high crime rates, and why the leading cause of death among black males 15-25 is homicide – by other black males 15-25. Even Jesse Jackson said he’s relieved on hearing footsteps behind him at night to turn around and see a white guy.

    Liberals know all this (who doesn’t?), but don’t like it (who does?). But they go a step further, and pretend that it isn’t true (although they’d panic if caught after dark in an inner city), and get into high dudgeon regarding profiling to assuage their liberal guilt over having incorrect thoughts. Instead they make up all sorts of fantasies as to why so many prison inmates are black (“selective enforcement” – right), and level charges of racism whenever anyone points out that heavily black areas are dangerous as hell.

    So as in so many cases, the problem is convolved with race. Many blacks view police, rather than black criminals, as their natural enemy. Racial solidarity trumps common sense. Leftists support them because doing so hamstrings the police and thereby undermines society, which they consider as a first step to replacing it with collectivism.

    Those are the drivers of resistance to profiling. Resistance to profiling terrorists is merely an extension of this phenomenon in the name of logical consistency.

  19. Nolanimrod Says:

    What will airport security be like when somebody puts 5 pounds of C-4 up his rear and sets it off?

  20. physicsguy Says:


    The answer is easy: colonoscopies!

  21. nyght Says:

    To put it quite bluntly: No.

    I have long argued that we will never be rid of the race issue until it stops being put in our faces almost every minute of every day. It’s quite an interesting study, if you think about it.

    We are told by those in the media that we must forego racism, and treat each other as human beings. However, those same people automatically segregate everything. It’s not “American” or even “person”, it’s “African American”, “Latino American”, “Hispanic American”, “Asian American”, etc. It’s not an easy concept for me to explain on 2 hours of sleep (insomnia FTL…), but the idea goes like this:

    The media would have us recognize our similarities by pointing to and accenting our differences. I’m sorry, but you don’t make one person hate African Americans less by constantly pushing that he affirm African Americans. Instead of downplaying the issue, we bring it to the forefront.

    In truth, it makes no sense to me that we would point out tolerance and equality by voluntarily segregating. We have come full circle from the “Separate but equal” days to something of an “Equal but separate” mentality.

    Don’t misunderstand. I am not saying that one should not be proud of their heritage, but that heritage should not be the foremost definition of who you are. All it does is feed the stereotypes.

    Now, that said, stereotypes exist for a reason. It is, unfortunately perhaps, human nature to categorize. It is beyond the scope of our abilities to meet and understand every other human on earth, and so it becomes almost second nature to group individuals/objects we come into contact with by similarities to other individuals/items we have come across in the past, thus giving birth to said stereotypes.

    Stereotypes don’t exist to “keep a brotha down”, but because there is an element of rational truth in them. As Juan Williams so famously said, “If I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried.”

    Think about that sentence and let the structure of it sink in. The most relevant portion of it is: “They are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims”. That defines the case of a person self identifying as something “different”. Not “one of the boys.”

    His reaction is also perfectly rational. As I said, stereotypes exist for a reason. In this case, his fear is justified by cold hard reality. He feels that way because others who have identified themselves first and foremost as Muslims have wantonly slaughtered people like him without restraint or care.

    It would be different if he felt that way when he saw a 60 year old nun, because that would in no way shape or form fit the stereotype of a 60 year old nun. I don’t remember Mother Theresa declaring war on America. I do not remember seeing images of Pastors in the streets cheering the collapse of the Twin Towers (As an aside, what stereotype DOES fit a pastor? That of a child abuser. We have seen it all too often to not associate the two…). In short, in the latter case, it become irrational. No basis.

    The sad reality of the matter at hand is that we are looking for a very specific threat to our airlines. A threat we should react to based on experience. What do our experiences tell us? That Muslims (Jihadists, sure, and I feel it is relatively pointless to quantify this statement, but in some ways necessary to point out I do not mean every single Muslim on Earth.) have repeatedly attacked, and sought ways to attack our civilians via airplanes. Whether this means using them as missiles, using missiles against them, or simply blowing them out of the sky (the Lokcerbie Bomber counts my earliest cognitive exposure to this), the fact remains that we are looking for a very specific people/person.

    This person self identifies as Muslim above all else. There is typically a genetic makeup that goes with this person, making him easier to identify to the naked eye. Most often in specific garments. And most damningly, this person does not look like you. He does not look like me (Irish-American, lot of brown, a little red, and all white). He does not look like a pastor or a nun. He does not look like my grandmother or a child.

    99.9% of the time, he looks EXACTLY like what he is.

    Stereotypes exist for a reason. They will always exist for those same reasons. They allow our brains to transfer a template to someone we see that allows us to get a feel for them. To possibly understand them. It is not perfect, but it is what we do barring point of contact interaction and examination on a case by case basis.

    And to be honest, they’re dead useful. They allows us to identify those who are likely to have similar views/desires/interests as we have, thus killing the need for days of useless conversation to ever get a feel for a person. The world is too big and our minds too small (despite our ego) to have the time or ability to take each person truly on a case by case basis.

    Random screening does nothing. You are simply running a numbers game, and the odds become much closer to those of hitting the lottery as they are to catching the “bad guy”. It becomes some sick realization of the point and pray method.

    This sort of mentality is borderline suicidal, and is corollary to the reasons we lost Vietnam and succeeded only in stabilizing Korea after it was split. In neither case were we willing to do what it would take to truly win a war. Our people cried out with humanitarian anguish and white guilt, and our enemies saw it, and used it against us.

    By playing this game and becoming beholden to some politically correct dogma, we only hand our enemies a weapon. Instead of successfully slipping a bomb onto a plane one time among 1 million muslims, you only have to do it 1 time among 100 million people. The odds of detection become longer. The resources needed become more and more stretched. And so much is wasted unnecessarily.

    I do not advocate the FDR approach to Japanese Nationals, but it is a useless waste of everyone’s time and resources to attempt to screen everyone. It also looks for the wrong problem. A bomb or gun is simply a tool. It, in and of itself is not the problem. It is the hand that holds it that is the problem. We know something about this hand, yet we will not act with that knowledge because we are paralyzed by political correctness.

    Personally, I will not fly, possibly ever again, simply because this new procedure beats around the bush and is invasive and possibly humiliating. Not to mention a gross waste of funds and resources.

    And here’s the real kicker. I know that they are not looking for me. But even if I knew that they were looking for me or someone like me, I would be the first in line trying to prove I was not a threat. Not slinking around the terminal trying to find a way to get in without being screened.

    This reactionary measure is pointless.

  22. julia NYC Says:

    At the end of the day liberals would rather be dead than be called a racist.

  23. Curtis Says:

    How Napalitano thinks: Americans have been responsible for one half million Iraqi children killed and therefore the righteous wrath of a helpless and oppressed people is upon them. To use profiling will only increase the legitimacy of that wrath. Besides, Muslims are only engaged in a legitimate defense of their rights and privileges. Outright killing of Americans can’t be allowed–yet–but we sure as Allah should make them miserable.

  24. expat Says:


    Instad od dogs, how about truffle-hunting piggies?

  25. expat Says:

    Sorry about the typos: Instead of

  26. helvetica Says:

    I for one am another fan of Israeli-style security but I would probably just moo and go through the line anyway because I am not much of a protester. I am kind of a private person who does not even like to wear swimsuits in public, and doesn’t even like to look at other people wearing swimsuits, so the porno-scanner does bother me a bit, as would the groping. I guess it is somewhat mitigated by the fact that I am quite unattractive and no one would want to look at me in the first place.

    Incidentally, “man junk” has been a word for quite a while now, not sure why Krauthammer thinks that guy invented it.

  27. holmes Says:

    This seems like a hybrid approach with the Israeli system and our current system, without subjecting everyone to complete intrusion.

  28. expat Says:

    Sorry to inject another OT today, but this is a must read on Obama and Europe:
    When you get foreigners willing to be quoted like this, the atmospher must be really bad.

  29. Curtis Says:

    The matter of security has a rider attached to it: hatred. Our scumbag elite federal masters hate us. That hatred is seen at the DOJ and all the cabinet offices. Everything they do is informed by that hatred and in every way the ordinary common man is pecked at, preached to, and vomited on.

  30. Neocon from the bluest state Says:

    I am completely baseless on this one.

    Profiling and other intelligence activities are behind the scene activity. The reality is that there have not been any successful attempts – not for lack of attempts, I am sure.

    So, TSA and the full body scanners/pat downs are a ‘overt’ attempt to feel secure – since these are visible acts.

    Our public officials (legislators and the administration) always are reactive. And hence do something in reaction to every attempt made public. And each one of these measures in itself is not bad. But all of them put together is burdensome.

    We would rather be safe than sorry. But I also believe that none of the ‘overt’ security measures increase security.

    One thing we are all forgetting is that Mohmd. Atta boarded his first plane in a remote airport in Maine – not in the large airports that are being equipped with the full body scanners.

  31. LAG Says:

    Hey holmes, this is not about rational calculation of the odds–that was my point. I understand it’s an the emotional calculation enhanced (or reduced ) by propinquity. That being the case, why do people engage in the self-delusion that they are rational?

    And how do you compute an “appropriate balance,” as you say? Remember, that there is no comparison of outcomes where one leaves you peeved and one leaves you dead no matter what constant you use in the equation.

    Of course, there is the exception where you agree that you WILL accept a certain number of dead people in exchange for a less annoying trip through the gate.

    Let’s talk about the real trade-off.

  32. rickl Says:

    I’ve never flown commercial, and I’m damn well not about to start now. Fortunately I don’t have to travel, so I don’t.

    Based on some comments I’ve seen elsewhere, this push by the TSA may have two causes:

    1. A push for unionization of the TSA.
    2. Driving the airlines into bankruptcy so they can be taken over by the government.

    I would suggest that it may also be another step towards desensitizing Americans to police-state tactics. The TSA has tremendous power over would-be travelers. Piss them off enough and you might find yourself on the no-fly list. And why should this be limited to airports? There is no logical reason why such practices shouldn’t be extended to train and bus travelers. Why shouldn’t police officers be able to stop and search anyone at any time, for any reason? (Currently the police have to ask you to consent to a search if they stop you. The TSA doesn’t ask for consent.)

    This also seems to be yet another instance of the government ramming unpopular policies down our throats, with utter disregard for our objections.

    Profiling is absolutely necessary. Occam’s Beard got it exactly right at 5:47 pm. It was obvious to me after 9/11 that we should be profiling Muslims. In fact I predicted this exact situation at the time in an e-mail. I said that because of political correctness, the government would end up treating each and every American as a potential terrorist.

    The proper way to handle airport security is to take it out of the hands of the government and let the airlines do it. They have an obvious interest in not seeing their planes blown up or crashed into buildings. Let them use whatever means they want. Let them compete on the basis of security. If you don’t like one airline’s screening approach, you’re free to take your business elsewhere.

    Of course, that approach would require a drastic overhaul of federal anti-discrimination laws. Any business should have the right to refuse service on any basis whatsoever. There is absolutely nothing wrong with private discrimination, and it should be perfectly legal.

    Another comment I saw somewhere said that a possible silver lining from this is that it might lead the majority of Americans to reject political correctness. Faster, please. Whether we like it or not, western civilization is at war with Islam itself, and we have no chance of winning if we can’t name the enemy and act accordingly.

  33. Occam's Beard Says:

    Now, that said, stereotypes exist for a reason. It is, unfortunately perhaps, human nature to categorize.

    Categorization is essential to science. The first part of any scientific inquiry is the taxonomic phase, viz., observing a phenomenon and categorizing the observations. Only then can the scientist generate a hypothesis regarding the mechanism of the phenomenon. As Sherlock Holmes famously said, “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”

    Some personal anecdotes:

    1. As I’ve previously indicated, I was on Pan Am 103 – the day before, i.e., the last one to make it. I was supposed to be on the ill-fated one, but for trivial reasons moved up by departure by a day. Funny feeling; it doesn’t seem real, actually.

    2. I’ve been grilled at considerable length (ca. an hour) by Israeli security, despite looking nothing whatever like an Arab. More like Lawrence of Arabia, in fact (maybe that was why!). Not sure what triggered it, unless it was that I was in Israel at an unusual time of year, and traveling with my girlfriend of the time, who was asked repeatedly how long she’d known me. The security people were firm but polite. I had no problem with any of this, since getting home in one piece appealed to me too. Israeli-style security suits me just fine.

    3. Once on a flight from Cairo to Luxor an Egyptian worked his way down a departure line featuring mostly Europeans, asking boarding passengers to take a suitcase for him because he was “over the weight limit.” The amazing part: everyone up to me simply refused, but let it go at that. I busted him to the airline, who checked him out. He was legit. Still, at least a dozen people put politeness before common sense. Hard to believe, but true.

  34. rickl Says:

    I heard Glenn Beck on the radio several months ago describing his encounter with Israeli security. It was one of the funniest pieces he’s ever done. It had me in stitches. They kept asking him questions for which he had no good answers. To hear him tell it, it’s a miracle they didn’t just shoot him on the spot.

  35. Occam's Beard Says:

    Rickl, in my (limited) experience, they asked the same questions over and over, seemingly incessantly (who was I? what did I do? where did I live? why was in Israel? where had I been in Israel? when had I been to each place?), presumably to make sure that my answers didn’t change. Once we’d run through the litany with one security agent, another would appear and we’d start from the top. Meanwhile, they asked my girlfriend (as I later found out) the same questions, for obvious reasons.

  36. Curtis Says:

    The TSA is a farce, a travesty, a paean of praise to the stupid. It is “Deliverance” come out from under the rocks. Take off them panties. You got a pretty mouth. Where’s Bert with his high-powered bow when you need him?

    Here’s a better plan. Waterboard every Imam you can find. Operation “springcleaning.”

  37. TheOtherLarry Says:

    The whole security boils down to one thing – what they are looking for: The Israeli method is to find terrorists, which requires some intelligence, interaction, and thinking. The TSA method is to find things, which just requires to follow specific steps, but is not effective.

    If we give up our Rights for (ineffective) security, the people who hate us have won!

  38. Occam's Beard Says:

    The whole security boils down to one thing – what they are looking for: The Israeli method is to find terrorists, which requires some intelligence, interaction, and thinking.

    This is the key. For “thinking” substitute “judgment” and the problem becomes apparent. Liberals hate to exercise judgment (just as well in their case, given that they’re bereft of it). The most damning adjective in the liberal lexicon is “judgmental,” although grownups make judgments all the time They hate looking someone in the figurative eye and saying, “You’re not good enough,” even if it’s true. They prefer “objective” criteria so they can outsource decision-making to some faceless algorithm. It’s not they who are making this decision – heavens forfend! – it’s the algorithm that says you’re not good enough. It’s not they who decided to search this person – he was randomly chosen.

    For my part, I’d make everyone named Mohammed go through security in his BVDs. And if he didn’t like it, and moved back to Durka Durkastan, well, that would just be our loss, wouldn’t it?

  39. SteveH Says:

    At the very least we need a terrorism czar to come up with clever ways to make daily life in muslim countries completely unbearable. Let them share in this.

  40. rickl Says:

    Ssh. If Obama named a terrorism czar, I don’t think we’d like the results.

  41. rickl Says:

    Occam’s Beard Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    This is the key. For “thinking” substitute “judgment” and the problem becomes apparent.

    And the word “prejudice” is related to “judgment”. It means to “pre-judge” based on history and observable track records.

    Likewise, to say that someone had “discriminating” tastes was once a compliment. It meant that he could discern between good and bad, and superior vs. inferior.

    The words “prejudice” and “discrimination” have been intentionally demonized by the left. It leaves us unable to make objective judgements about people and ideas, and to differentiate between good and bad ones.

  42. rickl Says:

    Instead of “differentiate” I should have said “discriminate”. It would have made my point clearer.

  43. Curtis Says:

    If we can save just one person, all that Islamophobia will be worth it.

  44. LAG Says:

    Terrorism czar? To promote it or defeat it?

  45. waltj Says:

    The machine that can read a potential terrorist’s thoughts has yet to be invented. Have people fly naked, with full body cavity searches, no carry-on bags, and a determined (or mentally ill, drugged, drunk) individual will still find a way to wreak havoc on a flight. That’s why profiling is the only way known to get inside someone’s head, to flag potential troublemakers, and to keep our skies as safe as they can be. Until that happens, all the searches and fancy machinery will only provide the illusion of security.

  46. LarryG Says:

    May I propose a theory somewhat different? Could it be that the scanners & pat downs are only perhaps 25% about terrorism and 75% about training the American public? Training the America people to accept a role of submission, but dress the training up in rationalization and reasonable doubt.

  47. gs Says:

    Making the rounds on the interwebs is the suggestion that the Obamas subject themselves to a filmed public patdown, just to set the example.

    I’ll take that a step further. Let the Congress, Cabinet, and federal judiciary together with their families all stand in line for scans and patdowns to demonstrate how the system works.

    (I’m no fan of harassment by litigation, but in this particular case I’d welcome a lawsuit asking the courts to require that private-jet fatcats go through the same procedure as the peasantry. Or maybe some new Tea Party Congresscritter could introduce legislation to that effect.)

  48. Michael Says:

    I refuse to let the “half million Iraqi dead” meme stand unchallenged. The UN sanctions could have killed Iraqis, possibly, still not proven. Since the invasion, a hundred thousand or so Iraqis have died violently, according for Iraq Body Count, WHO (I think) and definitely the Iraqi Ministry of Health. These numbers include many thousands killed by various Iraqis of one faction or another. It might be alleged that these factions would not be fighting if we were not there. Maybe so/maybe not. However, the annual violent death toll has yet to exceed, in the seven years since the invasion, the number of victims in the seven years BEFORE the invasion, when Saddam and his boys were roaming free. Remember, we have those numbers courtesy of the Baath themselves, because they kept records, and publicized the deaths, as a mechanism of terrifying the population into continued submission. Repeating a lie does not make it true.

  49. strcpy Says:

    Profiling works when a large percentage of what you are trying to catch is confined in a fairly small percentage of the overall polulation.

    So, lets be generous to the anti-profiling people: Lets say 90% of plane hijackers and such are of 5% of the population that flies in our country. Reality is that 99+% is in less than 1%, but I’ll say we both can’t profile that accurate and that there are a sizable chunk that are something else.

    This means in order to catch 50% of the bad guys you will need to screen roughly 3% of the population that is flying if it is totally random. That means out of 100,000 people flying you only need scan 3,000 people. Further you can catch 90% by scanning only 5% of the population – quite inexpensive.

    Now, without profiling you need, well, 50% of the population or 50,000 people. That is almost *17 times* the amount of people and work.

    If the numbers are more realistic you are easily look at 100 times to work.

    That is, of course assuming totally random searches (as the non-profilers want). If we take non-random to be the case the differences are near impossible to calculate.

    So, lets take and example. Lets say we have everyone’s bag go through the x-ray and everyone through the metal detector. That would – and does – catch most of the crazies that really aren’t in thier right mind. It doesn’t stop any intelligent person who is focused and determined, but frankly those are few and far in between. We do this now, it’s not random, it just profiles out that *everyone* is suspect and the scans are easy.

    Next we do some random searches and be realistic of what we are looking for. Random searches are horrid if you are really trying to find something, it doesn’t matter what we are looking for (car keys or terrorist), they take HUGE resources to do. Instead, in this case, we use them coupled with a trained professional to “profile”. Say a person with a Dog trained to find explosive, drugs, or whatever it is we are looking for. Walk around, let the dog sniff, and watch reactions. It is unobtrusive and I can guarantee effective – if someone looks nervous run the dog by them and see. Again, this is *somewhat* used but not enough (we have to spend enormous resources on “random” to get any level of effectiveness leaving little for unpopular things that are effective – the dogs and people training/salaries are expensive).

    Next we couple the above with profiling – lets say your screening shows a “suspicious” person on such and such flight. Have the dog visit both that gates line, the waiting area at the gate, or heck even stand there while people board. Again, if it is true that most come from that group you will screen 100% of that group and get a MUCH greater amount than 50% for little extra cost.

    You still need *some* completely random in an attempt to make the ones not part of that profile to be nervous (and a well trained person can mostly tell between afraid of flying and other types of nervous). All those should have a greater level of scrutiny.

    Indeed – people trained to see “nervous” is your best profile. The above isn’t really terribly important that it – by itself – catch people. It is important that it make them make mistakes and have people trained to spot that. It helps that it is targeted, but as said by the anti-profiling people there are terrorist that do not fit those groups. However that doesn’t mean profiling should be ignored, it just means it shouldn’t be seen as a fix-all.

    In the end that would cheaper, quicker, less intrusive, and most importantly MUCH more effective. The last piece, especially given that last sentence – is to realize you can’t be 100% effective. However just because something is only 80% effective doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it – especially if the proposed alternative is well under 50% (or even worse – as most proposed systems are – worthless).

    We could SIGNIFICANTLY cut costs and SIGNIFICANTLY increase security with MUCH less obtrusion into our privacy whilst flying. We just have to accept the reality that 90+ percent of the terrorist are from less than 5% of the population.

  50. Ilíon Says:

    Is prevention of profiling worth the cost?

    To a “liberal” it is.

    At one time, a conservative mantra was “better dead than red” — better to die than to “live” under communist slavery.

    It seems that a corresponding “liberal” mantra is “better dead than ‘WAAACIST’!”

  51. Ilíon Says:

    What will airport security be like when somebody puts 5 pounds of C-4 up his rear and sets it off?

    Oh! Damn those Episcopal suppository-bombers!

  52. Ilíon Says:

    er, ‘Episcopalian’

  53. Perfected democrat Says:

    # geran Says:
    November 17th, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    “Airport security is a real issue, but this appears to be more targeted at individual rights. Dogs that can detect explosives are cheap and effective. Metal detectors are effective.

    If we have to give up so many rights, why not a national ID system–picture ID, thumb prints, etc. that can separate law-abiding citizens from murderers? (Oh, I guess illegals then could not fly!)

    I hope I don’t have to fly until this is sorted out….”

    Maybe add to that some focussed profiling in conjunction with Israeli style interviews, for people who can’t seem to get past the metal detectors and the dogs without setting off alarms; and keep the x-ray machines around, and body searches as last resorts for these cases. After all, who would be afraid of a well-trained dog quickly sniffing around a little, or the more invasive methods once alarms were rung? Of course it won’t be considered because a significant part of the left-wing agenda has nothing to do with authentic pragmatic solutions, but everything to do with their sense of authority and control; case in point, “The lesson of Ghailani’s trial fiasco” (

    It begins to become apparent that the only bigger enemy we have than the jihadi’s, is their left-wing accomplices; ie. the Obama Democrats in particular.

  54. Perfected democrat Says:

    The link to that effective article again:


  55. Perfected democrat Says:

    Sorry, one last try for that quick link:

  56. Bon Homme Richard Says:

    We can’t profile! Think of all those Lutheran terrorists who would get through!

  57. br549 Says:

    I fly for work all the time. I am so sick and tired of what is involved with TSA crap I can’t put it into words. The number of employees, the incredible amount of equipment and machinery alone have got to be astronomical in cost. If you fly enough, the odds have you getting singled out from time to time. Want to pat me down and feel me up? Hire a Playboy Bunny. She can take all day if she wants.

  58. SteveH Says:

    The irony of what TSA is doing is that anyone with a bomb could kill twice as many people in the ridiculously crowded que line to go through security than he could on the plane. We literally couldn’t pack people together any better before security for maximum potential casualties.

  59. ziontruth Says:

    As others have correctly mentioned here, Israeli profiling isn’t racial but information-based. May I also add, that this isn’t because of reluctance to profile according to race, but because racial profiling wouldn’t work even for internal flights in Israel.

    Why? Because, contrary to the anti-Zionist big lie (of Zionism being a White Man’s Enterprise), the majority of Israeli Jews today are descendants of Jewish revenants from Arab states. They are not distinct in appearance from the Arab enemy. Racial profiling would be overwhelmed by false positives.

    Conversely, racial profiling in the West would trigger a false negative if the Muslims employed blond, blue-eyed converts for their tasks.

    Of course, the only alternative to any kind of profiling at the airport is an option even less tolerable to PC minds: That the Muslims go back to the flying carpet as their means of transnational aviation.

  60. br549 Says:

    I’m wondering; is it an unintended consequence that what goes on is again stepping all over the Constitution? Or is it an intended consequence? A civil war , or threat thereof, in this country would be such a wonderful thing for the progressives. Somehow, they believe they would be untouched. Soros, although one of the happiest to see it occur, should it, would long be out of the country as things exploded – without a family jewel being touched before boarding his private jet.

  61. Daniel in Brookline Says:

    Okay, this is just ridiculous…

    When asked today if she will insist that Muslim women wearing hijabs must go through full body pat downs before boarding planes, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano did not say yes or no, but told there will be “adjustments” and “more to come” on the issue.
    . . .
    Last week, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a “Travel Advisory” that included “[s]pecial recommendations for Muslim women who wear hijab.” These recommendations suggest that women wearing the hijab decline to undergo fully body pat-down’s when boarding commercial airflights.

    “Before you are patted down, you should remind the TSA officer that they are only supposed to pat down the area in question, in this scenario, your head and neck,” says the recommendations. “They SHOULD NOT subject you to a full-body or partial-body pat-down.”

    As Selwyn Duke points out, Muslim women are the second-most-likely demographic to commit terrorist attacks. So elderly nuns and little girls will get groped… but we mustn’t offend the modesty of people who actually do carry out terror attacks?


  62. Adrian Day Says:


    Afraid I disagree with you about who is to blame. The discarding of common sense profiling in security practices is purely in service to a PC Liberal philosophy. If there are conservatives carrying that water, they are doing it out of cowardice, and not conviction.

  63. Tom the Redhunter Says:

    A few years ago I was in Israel with a tour group from my church. When it was time to leave, our Israeli guide accompanied us to the airport, all the way to the security checkpoint.

    As we got near security, we started to throw our water bottles into the trash.

    “Why are you doing that?” our guide asked

    “Uh, we’re getting on the plane, can’t take large containers of liquid…” we replied.

    “We’re Israelis. We know how to do security. We look for terrorists, not freaking water bottles!” replied our guide

  64. Zero Security for A lot of Liberty « Sake White Says:

    […] Security for A lot of Liberty Since I think there’s zero security gain from TSA’s policies, past and present, it’s kind of obvious what I think of the […]

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