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?