The TSA is Still At It.

courtA recent article in the Wall Street Journal brings to light continuing abuses by the Transport Security Agency of people’s freedoms.  In the article several cases are depicted in which the TSA expanded their role from protecting against terrorism on planes to general law enforcement.  Here’s the issue: the only reasons the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution allows anyone to screen at all in advance are that the screening is not viewed as a law enforcement activity, and that it is impossible to undo a successful attack.  The principle, then, should be that TSA should be required to invade our privacy to the minimum extent possible to protect against such attacks, so that we can continue to enjoy what little we have left of our rights to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.  The courts have held as such repeatedly, and it is the same logic used to uphold drunk driving checks.

Technology actually hurts and helps.  For instance, new scanners make it possible to see through clothing and detect all manner of substances.  On the other hand, because they can do so, there should be less need to open containers if those scanners have said that they are safe.  Similarly, technology can improve the way we identify individuals.  By doing so, quizzing people about their identity should become less necessary.  Just to be clear, I do not view anything having to do with RFID in such a vein.  We’ll discuss this more soon.

Another TSA Moron Story

We interrupt this serious consideration of our future presidents with Yet Another story of a stupid (and yet unnamed) TSA employee.  In this case, an inspector attempted to break into planes on the tarmac.  According to one report, the inspector “breached” seven out of nine planes.  But in process he may have damaged sensitive avionics.  This caused a delay O’Hare International Airport while the airline took corrective measures.  This was stupid but not tragic because nobody was hurt– this time.  It could have been both stupid and tragic had the inspector touched something he shouldn’t have, broken something, and contributed to the loss of life.  Wouldn’t that have been rich?

The really stupid part is that it is not a secret that the overwhelming majority of effort to secure airplanes on the tarmac is devoted to keeping the wrong people off of the tarmac in the first place.  That is largely not the responsibility of the airline, but that of the airport and the TSA.  Once the inspector was on the tarmac and unsupervised, the game should have ended.  It didn’t.