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It's A Gray Area: Are TSA procedures really making us safer?

December 11, 2010|By James P. Gray

Last year, thousands and thousands of Americans at the airport lost at least 30 minutes of their lifetimes by standing in longer lines and complying with all of the TSA's increasingly laborious, invasive and time-consuming restrictions.

Has anyone ever done a cost-benefit analysis on these security checkpoint programs? TSA has about 60,000 employees, and today there are about 350 full-body scanners in operation in about 70 of our nation's airports, with about 1,000 expected to be operational by the end of 2011 All of this costs more that $10 per passenger per screening. That also means that those of us who pose no danger will be forced into enhanced scannings at the airports that have them, but the terrorists will simply choose to begin their flights at airports that do not yet have those procedures, like ours here in Orange County.

How much safer are we because of the loss of time and added costs? If anyone really knows, they aren't telling. Why is that? For that answer, one must understand governmental bureaucracies, which are driven by politics.

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First, it doesn't matter how much time and money are spent or wasted, or how many millions of passengers are inconvenienced, forced to be humiliated or unnecessarily exposed to radiation, if even one person is injured or loses his life to a terrorist, the TSA will be in political trouble. Thus, the TSA has every incentive to avoid every conceivable risk — regardless of the probabilities, privacy intrusions or expenses involved.

Second, politicians thrive when they are seen as fighting against enemies of the state. So now it is the "terrorists" who furnish the excuse for our government to deprive us of our liberties, take more of our money, and, along the way, keep the very politicians behind this "movement" firmly in power. Over time other groups have also been used to justify such actions, such as Muslims, communists, Jews, atheists and more. Of course, many dictators in other countries around the world have clung to power in a similar fashion by citing the United States as their common enemy.

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