The news I have heard much about recently are the new TSA airport security screening rules: passengers must either go through a body imaging device or be subject to a more, erm, intensive pat-down.

Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic has the best description, straight from a TSA agent:

“Yes, but starting tomorrow, we’re going to start searching your crotchal area” — this is the word he used, “crotchal” — and you’re not going to like it.”

“What am I not going to like?” I asked.

“We have to search up your thighs and between your legs until we meet resistance,” he explained.

“Resistance?” I asked.

“Your testicles,” he explained.

I like Marco’s reaction the best:

So, to summarize: With no supporting evidence whatsoever that it will make anyone any safer, and in response to absolutely no credible threats, the TSA has decided to implement a policy, that nobody asked for, in which every passenger must allow TSA agents to either see or touch their genitals before boarding a plane.

And, of course, we’re all going to subject ourselves to it, because we have no recourse and no power, even though the creation and execution of this policy are likely violating a few laws or at least common-sense rights, because that doesn’t really matter.

But there is a bigger picture item here that Marco identifies:

I still vote and participate, but I no longer expect functional, sensible, honest, or just results. It’s easier to just sit back and laugh at how ridiculous it is, as I get on with my life and accept whatever new dysfunction or injustice has been added to our society. When the (usually half-assed) improvements happen — and they do — it’s a pleasant surprise, but I don’t expect anything.

I really agree with Marco.

Even more so, I believe wholeheartedly in the words of Benjamin Franklin:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Who among us isn’t aware that TSA procedures won’t stop a terrorist attack?  Security expert Bruce Schneier pointed out that only two things have made flying safer post-9/11 – the reinforcement of cockpit doors and that passengers now know to fight back.  The former director of TSA responded (when he was in office):

“What do you do about vulnerabilities?” he asked, rhetorically. “All the time you hear reports and people saying, ‘There’s a vulnerability.’ Well, duh. There are vulnerabilities everywhere, in everything. The question is not ‘Is there a vulnerability?’ It’s ‘What are you doing about it?’”

“There are vulnerabilities where you have limited ways to address it directly. So you have to put other layers around it, other things that will catch them when that vulnerability is breached. This is a universal problem. Somebody will identify a very small thing and drill down and say, ‘I found a vulnerability.’”

And Director Hawley’s other admission?  In a post on the TSA’s blog, he said:

Clever terrorists can use innovative ways to exploit vulnerabilities. But don’t forget that most bombers are not, in fact, clever. Living bomb-makers are usually clever, but the person agreeing to carry it may not be super smart. Even if “all” we do is stop dumb terrorists, we are reducing risk.

That’s right, folks, we wait in lines at the airport for TSA agents can look at or feel us up, in the hopes of stopping dumb terrorists.

I think in the end, this won’t even matter.  We are reacting to a previous terrorist attack, under the assumption the terrorist will attack in the same manner in the future.  We are not, it seems, proactively stopping new types of attacks.  I think we’ve seen this past weekend, terrorists are looking for other exploits.


And it seems there is already the need for an update.  Courtesy of TechCrunch, Britain is cracking down hard, by banning printer cartridges in passenger luggage.  That’s right, a reaction at its best.