TSA might (snort) be out of control

I am not really a Tom Toles fan, but I think today's political cartoon in the Washington Post certainly captures part of the ground swell against the TSA's out-of-control attitude on groping and fondling the flying public in the name of security.

And there is a ground swell. Just in the last 36 hours I have heard and/or seen stories on NPR, including one with humorist Dave Barry complaining about his TSA pat down due to a "blurred groin" as well as a piece on Marketplace. There has also been commentary on Red State, which puts the TSA on the wrong side of liberal NPR and conservative Red State.

CNN and others have reported that pilot's unions are encouraging their members not to submit to the "back scatter" or full body scans now being required. The reason, there are serious health concerns about the level of radiation one receives from these machines. There are no longitudinal studies on the effect of these machines, especially on regular travelers who would be forced into them on a regular basis.

My favorite story, though, is from John Tyner of California whose now infamous confrontation with TSA at the San Diego airport was recorded on his iPhone. You can read about the entire episode on his blog. The best exchange though was when he refused to have his groin touched. "I repeated that I felt what they were doing was a sexual assault, and that if they were anyone but the government, the act would be illegal."

Best yet is National Opt Out Day. On November 24, the day before Thanksgiving, Americans are being encouraged to opt out of the full body scan procedure at airports, instead opting for the "enhanced" search by TSA. The desire is to encourage a national discussion on how much is too much when it comes to naked pictures or genital groping in the name of security. I will be opting out every time I fly, and I encourage others as well.

I am convinced that this TSA police state is not about security, but instead it is about avoiding the appearance of profiling. The government is so desperate not to be accused of racial profiling, that they are instead shredding the Constitution and assaulting law abiding citizens endure the indignity of molestation to be politically correct.

The truth is, profiling behavior works. Israeli security does it regularly. When I traveled to Israel in 1996, I was profiled by Israeli state security and missed my first plane to Tel Aviv. Why? Because I was a single male, under the age of 25, traveling alone, staying in the West Bank, with people I had never met before. I set off every red flag possible. The Security personnel questioned me repeatedly, and because they did not have time to hand search my luggage, they let the plane leave without me. The next morning, when I returned for the first flight of the day, they questioned me again, hand searched my luggage, and when they found nothing of concern, they bought be breakfast and escorted me through all the lines to my plane. I was a day late in arriving, but I flew on a plane that was safe and arrived in one piece.

Never was I molested by a member of the security team, and never were they anything less than professional. Adversarial at times, but always professional. They never treated me with anything but dignity, even when there was enough concern to bar, temporarily, my way to the plane. El Al, Israel's state airline, has never had a terrorist high jacking or incident of any kind. Namely because they profile effectively. In refusing to profile terrorists and terroristic behavior, and instead choosing to molest children, nuns, and the elderly, TSA creates not even the illusion of security.

One last note, the only people who are more secure thanks to these machines are the companies who make them and lobbyists who convinced Congress to fund them.