The concern some conservative bloggers are expressing about TSA security procedures is purely political, and I'm going to prove it.
More often than not, whenever I have a suspicion about the conservative blogosphere, a quick study of Lori Ziganto's blog confirms it. (Sorry, Lori, I know you just want to be left alone, and you don't want to be held accountable for what you write, but your blog is public and consequently a legitimate target.)
Before I get to Ziganto, let's briefly review the procedure in question. Those wishing to board airplanes at many airports in the United States are being asked to submit to a full-body scan. The scanners can detect non-metallic explosives like those found on the underwear bomber last year, but they also produce images of the naked bodies of those who are scanned. Fliers who refuse the scans must submit to pat-down searches that include the crotch and the chest. Children are also subject to pat-downs.
Much of the opposition to the scans is, as William Saletan puts it, "idiocy": the scans are safe, and a pat-down is a whole lot more invasive. Regarding this procedure, and in particular the alternative to the scan, Ziganto writes:
Surely, you’d think, this wouldn’t be done randomly, but would rather be a targeted measure. And, you’d also think, certainly the absolutely random subjection of children to such “pat-downs” wouldn’t occur. Well, you’d be wrong on both counts. Of course this isn’t targeted – that would be too profile-y and stuff! Because, tolerance. Or something. You see, because we must tolerate those who wish to kill us, we cannot offend them. We cannot be perceived to be singling out a certain group. We must, therefore, waste time and resources using terrorism countermeasures against, you know, NON-terrorists. And we are to pretend that 90-year-old grandmas from Nebraska flew planes into buildings on September 11th. Or that three-year-old girls strapped bombs to their shoes or in their underwear.Who are these evil people who insist that we must "tolerate those who wish to kill us"? The Democratic-led government of course: "It’s bad enough the Government constantly condescends to the American public and treats us all like half-witted children," writes Ziganto. "I think the past election showed them that we will no longer stand for that."
But notice this: not everyone who flies these days and is subjected to the scan or a pat-down is a 90-year-old grandmother or a three-year-old girl. And if a terrorist knew that his three-year-old girl would be neither scanned nor patted down, what would stop him from making his little one wear that underwear bomb instead?
Ziganto's solution is to use profiling:
[I]t seems to me that we should try out that whole using targeted security measures, based on actual suspicion and clues, like they do in Israel. Oh, silly me. That would mean acknowledging that it is a specific radicalized group of people who wants to kill us.Because "targeted security measures, based on actual suspicion and clues" worked so spectacularly in 2001? As the uproar over the firing of Juan Williams reminded us, there is no guarantee that a Muslim terrorist will have a certain appearance or even behave in a certain way. And some terrorists aren't even Muslim. The problem is stated quite elegantly by none other than former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff:
The problem with using racial and religious profiling is it takes you down a road to looking at people who you don't need to look at and avoiding looking at people that you should look at. The fact is it would be an engraved invitation to al-Qaeda to recruit exactly the kind of people who don't fit the profile.In addition, while a particular security procedure might work in Israel, implementing it in a nation of over 300 million people may not be practical. The alternative is to subject everyone, or at least randomly selected fliers, to your security measures, even if that means we often end up looking at people who we don't need to look at.
In any event, Ziganto is either kidding about following Israel's lead, or she's misinformed. According to CBS News, Israeli security is even worse:
As the New York Times reported Monday, some are looking to Israel - where profiling is just one among the many airport security tactics that make civil liberties defenders cringe - for guidance on airport security. The system is extremely restrictive by American standards, and stories of over-the-top searches and overzealous questioning are common.
"My experience leaving Tel Aviv was by far and away the most unpleasant encounter I've ever had with airport security officials in the decade," blogger Matthew Yglesias wrote. "As best I could tell, things went pretty smoothly as long as you were (a) Israeli, (b) traveling with an Israeli, or (c) traveling with some kind of well-established tour group."
Yglesias said that it took three hours for him to get from his initial security check to the airport's food court, and added that the Jewish member of his group "had the easiest time" while the black woman in the group "had the hardest time."According to that New York Times story,
[T]he security methods employed by Israel’s famous Shin Bet security service at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv are frequently stricter and more intrusive than the full-body scanners and pat-downs American officials put into place Nov. 1, said security analysts and the travelers who regularly show up at Ben-Gurion four hours before their flights for screening.
At Ben-Gurion, some passengers have been searched so thoroughly that they have had to walk through the terminals, the gates and up to the doors of their planes with no handbags, wallets or even shoes.But I digress.
When I started seeing complaints about these more restrictive measures, something occurred to me: weren't a lot of conservatives in the media complaining about lax security after Obama was inaugurated? Why, yes they were! Among them was one Lori Ziganto. Back in May, Ziganto wrote:
The night the NYC car bomb attempt went down, I was so grateful that, once again, the diligence of the public and the swift action of the NYC Police thwarted yet another potential attack. Shortly thereafter, while still incredibly grateful obviously, I became angry. I’ve had it. Firstly, because the current strategy of homeland security seems to be “Hey, guys, we’ve totally unclenched our fists. We can haz cookie now?” Secondly, because the left and their media lackeys are not only dangerously naive, but also purposefully misleading.
They are so deeply invested in both political correctness and in their violent, racist “tea baggers” meme, it clouds all else. Even common sense and the security of our country. It was swiftly apparent that they were *wishing* that the failed bomber was a tea partier, so that they could further their lame narrative and continue to try to excuse Obama and his administration for their failures and utter incompetence. Gee, Obama, how is that “unclenching of fists” deal working out for you?
That night, Attorney General Holder said “It’s important that American people remain vigilant.” Sadly, it’s quite clear that the administration and many on the left refuse to do the same.According to Ziganto, the current administration had put political correctness ahead of security, and security had become far too lax. Back in December, Ziganto wrote about the very event the enhanced security procedures are supposed to address, and complained that the Obama administration wasn't doing enough to keep us safe:
Today, when discussing the failed terror attack on the Northwest flight from Amsterdam, Janet Napolitano said “The system worked. Everything worked according to clockwork”. Um, perhaps she meant like a clockwork orange? That’s the only plausible explanation. . . .
Hello, Janet? He was on a watch list — and still got on a plane. WITH A BOMB in his pants. Talk about a suspicious “package” – literally. Pretty sure that means that there was “improper screening”. How on earth did “the system work”? Unless, of course, you mean the original intent of our free Republic, in which case, you are correct. Correct because, once again, private citizens succeeded where government bureaucracy failed. As always.Ziganto complains about a terrorist boarding a flight with a bomb in his underpants, but she also complains about a security procedure designed to prevent terrorists from boarding flights with bombs in their underpants. Got it.
- If President Obama is responsible for enhanced security procedures at airports, he screwed up.
- If President Obama is responsible for failing to enhance security procedures at airports, he screwed up.
- So, no matter what, President Obama has screwed up.