Monday, November 22, 2010

Follow-up to TSA Searches

Given some of the latest developments with the TSA and some of the “searches” they have performed recently, I feel compelled to modify my stance a little from the article I posted last week. 
It seems either the TSA or some of their employees are getting a bit carried away with their searches.  Being a retired Federal employee who knows how things work in the government, I can tell you it’s probably a little of both.  Written policies are normally considered guidelines for employees to follow.  Some are to be followed strictly while others are to be applied with common sense in adaptable to each situation.  While one would think the TSA would be using the latter at the airports, it seems they stick with the first without variation.  For example, I have several friends who are Air Marshals.  One of them was stopped by the TSA for an “enhanced search” while he was on duty, getting ready to board a flight with his weapon as the security agent on board.  He identified himself as an Air Marshal and informed the TSA he was on duty and armed.  They took him to a room to do the search anyway.  Once in the room they told him again he had been “randomly selected” by the computer for an enhanced search.  He again identified himself as an on-duty Air Marshal, showed them his badge and his gun, and they still proceeded with the search. 
There are those who believe if any passenger must be searched then anyone who gets on the plane must be searched.  Common sense says otherwise.  There has never been a documented case of an airline pilot, flight crew member or Air Marshal taking a plane by force and crashing it into a building or carrying a bomb on board and blowing up the plane.  Could it happen?  Of course it could in this day and age.  But until it does there has to be a level of trust in our flight crews and security people or the entire industry is lost. 
The government right now, in response to complaints by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is considering modifying its searches, or even discontinuing them, of Muslims, particularly women because it violates their Muslim beliefs.  So all a woman has to do, Muslim or not, is wear a burqa to the airport and she will successfully avoid being searched?  And frankly, given the facts on why these more in-depth searches were initiated, if we stop searching Muslims there is no reason to search anyone.
The visual search of the young boy is what led me to modify my opinion of all this.  Again, there has been no documented case of a child attempting to hijack or blow up a plane, anywhere.  Could Al Quaeda try this?  Absolutely.  Would it be in an American city using an obviously Caucasian child? Doubtful.  Could Al Quaeda recruit a member of a flight crew or an Air Marshal?  It could.  Will it happen?  Let’s hope not.  Should we treat these people like possible recruits in the meantime?  In my opinion, no.  Common sense. 
I'm a firm believer in airport security and ensuring no one carries dangerous items onboard an aircraft.  I'm even OK with the full body scanners.  But it seems common sense has escaped the TSA recently.  It’s time they try to find it and reintroduce it into their procedures.  The people of the United States need to be protected certainly, but they need and intelligent, common sense approach to this protection, not ignorance and stupidity. 

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