I had the wonderful opportunity to experience our new National airport security process the other day. I won’t mention the airport, or the airline; this has very little to do with either of them.
Armed with the knowledge that, every year, more then 600 million passengers file through our Nation’s airports, I wanted to observe the actions and reactions of all involved in this new “screening” process. Present at the security check-point were: the TSA (about 25 of them), passengers (about 135 of them), a flight crew (7 of them), assorted “wand” style hand-held metal detectors, the standard carry-on bag/shoes/belt/cell phone/ wallet/keys/etc. scanner, and the brand spanking new full body x-ray scanner.
In the usual pandemonium, I was able to stand back, and off to the side, to attempt a visual capture of the general flavor of the event. The passengers seemed to be taking all this in stride, and appeared to be the sane part of the equation. The TSA agents, to a person, had that “deer-in-the-headlights” look about them, as if they didn’t really have a clue as to what they were supposed to be doing.
Despite the apparent ignorance of the agents, the line was moving reasonably well until there seemed to be an “ah-ha” moment in the eyes of a few of the agents. With a little hesitation, they pulled a young teenage girl out of the line and instructed her to enter “The Machine”. Apparently she went through too quickly the first time, so the agents announced that a second scan would be necessary. At this point, the young lady started getting a puzzled, quizzical look on her face; she clearly didn’t understand what was going on. Nevertheless, she obeyed all commands and made the trip a second time. This would not have been remarkable except for the fact that the gathering of agents, around the scanner’s monitor, were wearing some undeniable smirks and grins. I could not see the monitor, but from their expressions, it seemed obvious what was going on.
There were more full body scans administered, and the only passengers directed to pass through a second time were mostly female and mostly young. Only one full “pat-down” was administered, and this was to an elderly gentleman who simply shrugged as if to say, “Aw, what the Hell.”
As I mulled the entire experience over in my head, I quickly found myself concluding that this enhanced protocol was most likely against our Constitution and Bill of Rights. That, in my mind, makes the process ILLEGAL. And based on the actions of the full body scanner personnel, what happen before my eyes was most likely child pornography; which, by the way, is also ILLEGAL.
There seems to be a great reliance on "machines" to do the work best done by humans and their senses. The "machine" allows for a human disconnect from the process, so "blame" cannot be placed on any one person. Blaming the physical machinery completes and validates the human disconnect, which also seems to justify the expense to tax-payers for all this equipment.
Given our current financial status, the American People cannot afford this sort of mismanagement at any level of government. These new, enhanced screening mandates are highly visible trademarks of our government giving us a totally, false sense of “security”.
This security protocol is absolutely unnecessary. Normal and acute observation is what works at the departure areas. Accurate, up to date lists that actually get scanned at the ticket counters and on-line are another piece of the puzzle that works. And, yes, some "profiling" also works, and should be an active ingredient.
But, not to worry! More than just the "pitchforks and torches" will start appearing next Summer. Our policy makers and law makers might entertain finding safe havens before the proverbial "shit hits the fan".