TSA security is as futile as it is invasive

November 22, 2010

Once again, The Baltimore Sun's editorial board is successful in cutting against the grain, admonishing the majority of air travelers and aviation security who just do not like the embarrassing and futile preventive measures that TSA uses ("'Don't touch my junk,'" Nov. 22). Ill-timed and ill-considered, really? once again, your editorial protects bureaucracy, while overlooking what the public wants. And yes, we have the right to demand that from TSA, and let's not forget who is here to serve whom. TSA is under-performing, under-achieving, and we're still fully exposed to terrorist attacks.

Not only are those measures ineffective, more so, the approach, the techniques and the execution are basically wrong.

Following the same logic that drives the addition of more and more restrictions and denials, if anywhere in the world a potential terrorist is to dip his long hair in liquid explosives, will TSA demand that we all get a Marine haircut before boarding the airplane? And if a shirt carrying explosive buttons is discovered, would TSA restrict boarding while wearing any clothing with buttons?

But what makes it all so disturbing is the fact that while we're submitted to extensive yet inefficient procedures, we're totally unprotected while we we're all jam-packed waiting to pass security check; did anyone ever see any type of protection there? How many casualties would a single terrorist throwing grenades and spray-shooting be able to cause? Ask the Ben Gurion Airport security authorities what Kozo Okamoto, the converted to Islam Japanese Red Army member, was able to do on his own in 1972.

Furthermore, what kind of preventive and protection measures are in place regarding our luggage? Close to zero.

So while we're harassed and frustrated by revealing screening machines that can't "see" many explosive types, and exposed to unnecessary privacy invasion, tens of pounds of plastic explosives can be easily loaded on the plane with very low chances of being discovered.

As I wrote in two articles about the wrong conception of aviation security in GlobalPolitician.com, TSA is a reactive, overloaded bureaucratic organization at best. Should the Israeli approach, consisting of a combination of profiling and physical security be adopted and adapted, TSA would need only a third of its present personnel, and the security level would increase many fold.

Sam Elrom, Baltimore

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