Argument against the TSASubmitted by BobW on Tue, 07/19/2011 - 02:09
Here's my suggestion for how to argue against the TSA. The apologists for the TSA always make the argument that if we take away the gropers and electronic strip machines and later a terrorist attack succeeds, the people will rightly blame those who tied the hands of the TSA. What we should do is:
1. Acknowledge that indeed there will be some small increase in the probability of a successful attack if we get rid of the airport Gestapo.
2. Argue that it is a price that is well worth paying.
First, remind your audience of the Fourth Amendment, a crucial bulwark against a police state:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Now, ask members of the audience to raise their hands if they would be willing to see the 4th Amendment struck from the Constitution provided that such an action reduced the number of auto fatalities each year by 2%. Hopefully very few people would raise their hands. (If many do, we are lost.)
Generously assume that the current airport Gestapo is sufficient to absolutely prevent any terrorist attacks. Now suppose we reverted airport security back to what it was in 2000, plus a no-fly list of people with clear terrorist connections. Assuming you're not on the no-fly list, you just go through the metal detector, that's it. You do not take off your belt or shoes. You don't go through a porno scanner or get groped. You can even take any size toothpaste tube or shaving cream can you want. With these reduced security measures I think it's fair to say that in the worst case we could imagine seeing one successful attack on commercial jets per year. (This is a generously high number, remember that both the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were miserable failures.) One big jumbo jet going down is about 800 people dead, or 2% of the number of auto fatalities the U.S. has each year. So, AT BEST, throwing out the 4th Amendment at our airports has reduced fatalities by the equivalent of 2% of deaths due to automobiles. But the audience has already conceded that it isn't worth voiding the 4th Amendment for such a modest gain in safety.
Of course if this country had Ron Paul's foreign policy we would be far less likely to be the target of terrorist attacks in the first place. You may have noticed that the terrorists aren't trying to blow up Swiss planes.
Finally, if people still insist that any improvement in safety, no matter how marginal, justifies any action by our government, then ask them why they don't demand that the TSA do full body cavity searches of all airplane passengers? After all, the obvious way to get a bomb past the porno scanners is to stuff it up the terrorist's rectum or vagina. If a terrorist brings down a plane with a bomb secreted such in such a way, then surely those opposed to a full body cavity search will be held responsible for letting the terrorists get their way!