I recently became one of the nearly 500,000 people who have registered for TSA Pre-Check, a Federal program which “allows low-risk travelers to experience expedited, more efficient security screening at participating U.S. airport checkpoints.”
Of course, my hope is to reduce the time it takes to complete the screening process, but even more importantly, I hope to reduce the effort and hassle. Twice I have lost my driver’s license going through security. With all the chaos and pressure to hurry, I suspect I dropped it or stuck it in a super-secret cranny I’ve forgotten about. (Try getting through security without a driver’s license on your return trip)! In case you’re not aware of the program, you pay for the privilege of the Federal government nosing into your personal life, so you don’t have to take off your shoes, belt or jacket, pull out your 3-1-1 bag, or drag out your laptop during screening.
What prompted this blog. . .
After I read this article, even I was able to envision not-so-fantastic scenarios of terrorist activity enabled by allowing these items, while some of the restricted items seem a bit silly–what does TSA think I will do with my half-used ChapStick or my cuticle clippers (I’ve had both confiscated), or those six jars of chunky homemade salsa I saw them confiscate from a lady who was carrying them to her hosts as a gift?
Articles frequently taut the ineffectiveness security, for example, this USAToday article from January this year, or more recently, this Security Degree Hub article citing more than 25,000 recorded breeches since the inception of Homeland Security, TSA’s parent organization.
I can just hear the cackles of delight from the terrorists sitting around their campfires in the remote mountains of some far-away land as they view YouTube videos on the Internet of clownish American travelers stripping down to their bare arms and stocking feet, piling up like cattle to the slaughter in security lines.
Do our security measures make us any safer? Many sources say “no.” A recent story from San Antonio reveals breeches even in airport “safe zones.”
Yet, surprisingly, for all our bitching about screenings–grandma and grandpa who never fly desperately trying to juggle their belongings and clothing during screening, moms and dads grappling with strollers, diaper bags, and formula, well-to-do ladies with their bags laden with precious gifts–Americans do not want to give up our security measures. Why? I suspect it’s because we want to feel safe, and having our current TSA requirements are better than doing nothing.
But Think About This. . .
The FAA estimates that 746 million people flew on American flights in 2013. If there were indeed 25,000 recorded breeches of airport security in 10 years, that’s 2,500 per year, 208 breeches per month, and just under seven per day. Sound like a lot? Consider that those breeches amounts to less than two in every 10,000 screenings, the effectiveness seems a bit more, well, effective.
TSA and security screenings are destined to be one of those institutions we love to hate–like the Post Office. And like it or not, it looks like they’re both here to stay.