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  • TSA Has Its Security Priorities in the Wrong Place

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with full-body scanners. In fact, the more we innovate and introduce new security technologies, the more we can stay one step ahead of terrorists.

    But there are major problems with the way the Department of Homeland Security, through the Transportation Security Administration, is handling security at airports.

    Requiring more and more passengers to choose (a) a full-body scan or (b) an aggressive pat-down as part of routine screening (also called primary inspection) sends a message that everyone is a terrorist risk when, in fact, almost everyone is an innocent traveler.

    Many Americans have legitimate (and some not-so-legitimate) concerns about full-body scans. As such, robust deployment of full-body scans inevitably has led to more opt-outs, which means more folks are choosing pat-downs. Let’s be honest, these pat-downs could make the least modest among us blush. It can’t be very comfortable for the poor TSA officer either.

    This is a big reason that the TSA now finds itself in a public relations nightmare. Homeland security should not be the stuff of Saturday Night Live. “Don’t Touch My Junk” should not be a national catchphrase. So why is the government making flying more and more … icky?

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says it’s all part of a “layered defense” to terrorism. Certainly we need multiple layers of security, as Napolitano suggests, but layered defense shouldn’t become code for trying to childproof the country against terrorists. And it need not mean piling up physical security measures and applying them all to everyone robotically.

    Airport security depends on much more than equipment and pat-downs. Robust intelligence gathering and information sharing among local, state, federal, and international law officers are vital to an effective defense. They can help inform the choices we make in the physical security process so that very few people need to go through the inconvenience of extensive scrutiny.

    Intelligence gathering and sharing pays security dividends beyond our airports, too. Many terrorist targets are on the ground, like Times Square, a D.C. subway station, or a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. At least 34 terrorist plots have been foiled in the United States since 9/11. Most were not directed at airlines. None was uncovered by a full-body scanner.

    One lesson that emerges from all these foiled plots is the need to stop the attempt early, before the terrorist has a chance to put the public in any danger. Hint: If a would-be terrorist is waiting in the TSA screening line with a bomb in his shorts, the public already is in danger and the government already has failed.

    This is why Napolitano’s defense of the more extensive deployment of full-body scanners is so disconcerting. In fact, she recently announced that Homeland Security may start to deploy full-body scanners on trains, ships, and other mass transit. Such a focus has little to do with preventing terrorism before it starts.

    Sure, full-body scanners are a legitimate means of screening passengers who merit additional (secondary) scrutiny. We absolutely need some level of physical security at the airports. But the more resources the administration wastes piling up stuff at TSA screening lines, the fewer resources it can devote to practices we know are successful at stopping terrorism.

    This article first appeared at US News.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    17 Responses to TSA Has Its Security Priorities in the Wrong Place

    1. Pingback: Tweets that mention TSA Has Its Security Priorities in the Wrong Place | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. -- Topsy.com

    2. Mark Montgomery NYC, says:

      The TSA is very unprofessional and is running around with its head cut off, grabbing at straws when the reality is that airline passenger terrorism is almost non-existent. The jihadists are laughing at us and they revel in the torture we are subjecting the flying public to. They have already won by degrading the quality of our lives and it will only get worse. Eventually you will have to go through a full body scan just to get into a high rise building. So far the trains are the best way to travel but the first time somebody blows up an Amtrak train the fist will come down and we will have to take off our shoes and belts and suffer physical searches in train stations. Our culture of "security" is suicidal. Mark Montgomery NYC, NY boboberg@nyc.rr.com

    3. MyDogOreo, Chappaqua says:

      Bin Laden must find all this hilarious. So far, he has been able to get us to open our bags, take off our shoes, strip for a see-through scanner, or be groped by a government official. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing Janet's job when I go through all that, and yes, those scanners and gropers have not prevented a single terrorist event. It's all for show.

      And why stop with airports? Janet will have to scan or grope everyone who gets on a bus, enters a subway station, train station, office building, school, etc. What is the point of scanning at airports if other facilities are not scanned? Streets with heavy pedestrian traffic would also have to have scanners not to mention highways, bridges, tunnels, and so on.

      The best "scanners" are people who observe what's going on around them. Janet's defense of scanners is more than "disconcerting", it's just plain silly, and it falls right into what bin Laden wants us to do: Get all trussed up and paranoid.

    4. Cindy says:

      The TSA is a pointless government intrusion as long as the southern border remains wide open. As usual practice in the U.S. in most organizations, one has just to appear to be "doing something" instead of actually being effective in combating a problem.

    5. Jim, Arizona says:

      Investigation 101- Analyze the evidence. Establish suspects. Investigate to narrow suspect list down to actual perpetrator(s).

      Current method- Everyone is a suspect. Pour bucket loads of money for manpower and equiptment. Find out that there are too many suspects. Suspects (everyone) must give up freedom to accomplish this method.

    6. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      Build the wall, build it now.

      Enforce all the laws all the time.

      Time to start profiling at check points.

    7. BP, FL says:

      Couldn't agree more, with the original post and all of the comments to date. Time to put thinking, caring people back in charge of the gubmint and get the power hungry opportunists out.

    8. Chris says:

      When we look at the way other crimes are investigated in this country, why are we not doing the same thing when it comes to terrorists?? When there has been a murder, we do not consider everyone within a 200 mile radius of the location a suspect!! They gather information, and narrow it down to their suspects based on eye witnesses and other facts as their guideline!! They Do Not round everybody up in the whole neighborhood and strip search them all!

      We already know who the primary suspects are when it comes to terror attacks!! They are muslim males between the age of 16-40 years of age. Not elderly white men and women or NOT small children! So why are we all treated like criminals, and why is TSA screening everyone accept the suspects?? Something is wrong here! Where is the common sense?? Time to wake up America, and be ready to defend your rights as citizens. http://www.PatrioticChristiansToday.com and join with other Americans who are standing up for their rights!!

    9. Judith Bevis,Ph.D. S says:

      Reflections on TSA Security Procedures

      By Judith A. Bevis, Ph.D.

      Licensed Psychologist

      Full body scans and pat downs revolt us. They violate the most basic social taboos against sexual assault even if you accept the notion that it is for your own good.

      Don’t let a stranger touch you. Your body is private.

      If anyone tries to touch you, holler. Get away. Run.

      Don’t trust strangers.

      As a psychologist, I would also like to suggest that these enhanced security procedures mirror the dynamics of abusive relationships, particularly those involving sexual abuse.

      Typically, abuse occurs when someone with authority uses their power to take advantage of someone who has less power.

      Critical to the abuser-victim dynamic is submission. The victim is forced to submit, to become passive, to let it happen- or else.

      Finally, the coercive nature of the relationship must be denied and perverted.

      The normal feelings of outrage anger, disgust, fear, rush up for the victim, but are forbidden. Instead, the abuser says, “Don’t worry. This is OK. Trust me”

      Violating the sacred boundary of personal bodily integrity changes everything – flashbacks and nightmares, drugs and alcohol, an inability to trust and to love, emotional emptiness and the inability to feel.

      Most importantly, however, is the fact that victims usually become victims again. Victims lose the ability to discern what is safe and what is not. Right and wrong become confused – blurred. Someone who has not been victimized is born with common sense – our gut reaction – to feel that something in our environment is not right. We have to examine it. Is it friend or foe?

      Individuals who have been victimized, however, have learned to ignore their feelings, their perceptions. In having to passively submit, the victim learns to bury all of the innate emotions that normally allow us to avoid danger. They walk passively into danger and find themselves victimized again – and again – and again.

      As they seek protection from an abusive world, they often turn to relationships where they are then easily taken advantage of thanks to their learned passivity and helplessness. The abuser uses the victims vulnerability to further increase in power. “Trust me.”

      TSA’s actions have the power dynamics of the abuser-victim relationship. Trust me. Be passive. Don’t complain. This is normal. What’s wrong with a little touch, a little peek, a few pictures? Disguise the coercion. No one forced you to fly.

      What is most disturbing, however, is the destruction of our innate ability to sense danger and to take the right action. By sexually abusing the American public in airports, the TSA turns us all into victims – victims who have to submit to power, victims who have to squelch their rage over violation of personal space. The psychological injury can be enormous, but the real danger in creating millions of sexual abuse victims is the emergence of a passive, emotionally blunted, easily intimidated and vulnerable populace who will then be easy prey

      At the airport lined up like sheep, we are told, don’t think, don’t feel, everything will be fine. Don’t make a fuss. TSA will protect you.

      We are not a nation of victims. We are alert, aware, smart, emotionally alive and active. Our guts alert us to danger and thwarted the shoe and underwear bombers. In our daily life, if we remain emotionally alert, we constantly evaluate danger. Only the most simplistic of us rely solely on physical characteristics. Rather, we all employ a complex set of factors to evaluate if something is sketchy, questionable, safe or downright dangerous. This will always be our best defense.

      Demand that the TSA also act with the same intelligence and rules that we use to operate within our daily life. Insist they treat Americans with respect and dignity. We are not the enemy. Resist TSA’s attempt to sexually abuse us and our daughters, sons, parents, and grandparents. Remember they are just getting started. Under the guise of security we will all be victimized..

    10. Richard M says:

      The reason TSA is only going to keep on getting more body scanners such as in trains, in schools, wherever they can get away with it, is because Michael Chertoff has invested in with the company that makes the scanners. So, an investigation needs to be conducted, and let's see if there's any conflict of interest going on here. Whaddya think? I can't remember where I heard this story, but this needs to be on YouTube, and wherever else we can expose this kind of crap.

    11. Fr Robert Pearson, N says:

      No, all we need to do is get our troops out of Muslim countries in Asia and treat Palestine even-handedly.

    12. Fr Robert Pearson, O says:

      No, all we have to do is get out of Muslim countries in Asia, and treat Palestine evenhandedly.

    13. George Colgrove, VA says:

      ". . .the more resources the administration wastes piling up stuff at TSA screening lines, the fewer resources it can devote to practices we know are successful at stopping terrorism."

      This is true with the DHS and everywhere else in the federal government. We need to cut costs and protect the nation. The "at all cost" mentality no longer works. There is no more money to pay for that.

      We need to be super-smart about our financial resources and target real threats. I wonder about the lost potential with all the wasteful "at all cost" spending we have done since 9/11. This mentality justified massive hikes to federal payrolls at a cost of almost $50 billion each year according to the very conservative calculations by the HF. Moreover, because there were quick outlays of cash to corrupt governments and contractors with no oversight we have lost billions more.

      We need to slow down and start being as methodical as the terrorists are. We are spending almost 100,000 times what the terrorist are spending with over 200 times the personnel and we have made no advance on ending the war on terror. Most plots that were "stopped" had luck as a component, and as McNeill reported, the expensive equipment that the federal government is driving down our throats stopped none of these plots.

    14. Steven, Louisiana says:

      Now the Heritage Foundation is skirting around the issue and being ashamedly politically correct. Shame on you Heritage. We know that the top security threat to the Western way of life is Islamic Arabs, nothing more and nothing less. Profile these bedouin hooligans and let the rest of us sit back and laugh and point fingers. Don't start being pansies Heritage. You are supposed to be intelligent, not sycophant public pleasers. Shame on you and you slap common sense in the face with this nonsense. Go back to the drawing board before you publish this type of rabble.

    15. Jay Jay Calif. says:

      I wonder if anyone is looking at who is behind the body scanners at the airport.

      I would venture to say that the company behind the scanners is run by a Dem and that the parties in power in DC are invested in the stock of this company.

      It has happened before here in Calif. during the early 60's. under former Govenor Jerry Brown. Politicians can encourage and push certain products under the guise of it being good for the people.

    16. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Jay Jay,

      Actually the machines are being pushed by a former federal employee that worked for Bush II. Chernoff, the former sec of Homeland security is making big money off these machines by working for a lobbying firm that is a client to the company that procuces them and it would not surprize me that there are current corrupt federal employees in DHS including Nepalotano that are also making big money on these machines.

      Incidently the department of enerygy (a federal agency) stated that these machines put off radioactive rays that are damaging to the himan DNA structure.

      Government does not work!

    17. Jerry of N.M. says:

      How many ("Unqualified")TSA workers informed you of the "Dangers" of x-rays-?

      (This lack of "Common-Sense" disqualifies anyone who doesn't use it-!) In 1937-1939, I saw x-ray machines in all shoe-stores, like 'Buster-Brown' & others-! (Cabinet-box that got a x-ray view of your foot-bones inside a pr. of new shoes, outlined) The AMA Doctors convinced Congress to "Out-Law" the Fluoroscopes,

      as "Dangerous" & such x-rays were removed from stores in 2 weeks by the Law!

      ("Think"–Destroys red-blood cells, x-rays damage unprotected eyes, may cause

      "Cancer", & being Sexually-Sterilized–& being made "Childless" w/o their permission-! Adults & Kids, who are "Forced" through "full-body" x-ray Scans are

      more than "endangered" by possibilities, they'll be Sexually-Sterilized to never have any K have any Kids-! (Kids under 12 yrs-old are NOT terrorists-!) Sounds like this govts in trouble with a "Class-Action" suit from 4 million victims–worth

      Billions of Dollars for any "smart-lawyers"–not from Pres. Obama's Class-Mates!

      The Nazi's used these same X-rays to destroy Jewish womens' Overies-!

      (Fact)–today's X-ray techs wear a "Full-Body" lead apron, but then, they also step-out of the x-ray room, when the x-ray is shot-! (Ask any Dr. why a "Lead-

      Apron"-1?) Because nobody wants to be "Sterilized" without their permission-!

      Plus, they don't want "Cancers" either-! Why was the Law, which "Out-Lawed"

      the X-Ray Machines in 1939 & revealed them as "Dangerous Equipment" ignored!

      What was "Dangerous" in 1939–still stays a "Danger" in 2010–who could change

      that "Danger"? Was it the President or one of his Staff Directors-!?

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