Loose Ends: TSA Admits that its Security is Superfluous

 Posted on May 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was otherwise occupied, and didn't write about this at the time, but nobody I follow did either, so I figure it's worth a small post:

When TSA let three boxcutters through security at JFK and onto an airplane,

[TSA] Spokeswoman Davis was quick to put the embarrassing incident behind her, assuring the traveling public that the TSA is still ahead of the curve:

There have been a number of additional security layers that have been implemented on aircraft that would prevent someone from causing harm with box cutters.

They include the possible presence of armed federal air marshals, hardened cockpit doors, flight crews trained in self-defense and a more vigilant traveling public who have demonstrated a willingness to intervene.

So here's the riddle: since security measures have been implemented on aircraft that would prevent someone from causing harm with box cutters, why is TSA looking for and confiscating box cutters?

Every government program has costs: direct costs, indirect costs, and opportunity costs. Looking for small blades takes resources that could be used looking for bombs in luggage, or making our highways safer, or feeding hungry children for chrissake.

I like carrying a knife. I get to use it all the time. If you don't carry one and aren't looking for opportunities, you might be surprised how many chances there are to use a knife in a week.

When I still traveled by air (before scope-and-grope) I even carried a small blade discreetly on airplanes. I risked losing it to airport security, but so what? Small price to pay to have something resembling a proper tool near at hand. I'd rather have 150 people with knives on an airplane, one of who was a bad guy, than have one bad guy with a knife and 149 unarmed people.

And guns? While the TSA apologists want to believe that a terrorist with a gun on an airplane could still cause mayhem by "shoot[ing] through the door or the thin walls on either side and still hit[ting] a pilot which would bring down an aircraft," the chances that someone with a gun could set up a shot to kill the pilot ten feet away through an opaque wall, and then repeat the trick with the copilot, all while surrounded by uncooperative passengers on an airplane, are effectively zero.

The flight crew would be more likely to simultaneously choke to death on their peanuts. If that's the best the "whatever it takes" quislings can come up with, we might as well let guns on the airplanes as well as knives, and turn all those TSA dollars toward avoiding less-fantastic risks or just toward making the final years of American preeminence as much fun as possible.

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