A longer take on airport security.

Just as an example of the relative idiocy surrounding this issue, a brief and absolutely true story. My cousin is a pilot -- a PILOT, mind you -- for a major national airline. He wears eyeglasses. Therefore, he carries an eyeglass repair kit, always.

Going thru security, it got flagged by a screener who insisted that my cousin surrender his potentially destructive miniature screwdriver. My cousin is a sweet and accommodating man who handed over the tool with the following caveat --

"Y'know, I'm the pilot. If I want to bring the plane down.... I don't need THIS! And I don't want to rock your world, but there is an axe in the cockpit".

Folks, I think we have to take all reasonable measures to secure ourselves - that includes airports, seaports, arenas, malls, major hotels and landmark buildings. But the key word there is "reasonable".

Everyone and I mean everyone is capable of violence and destruction. But it is not reasonable to assume that most people are bent on destruction. We do know that at present - certain groups and profiles are, and I am not singling out only the Islamic Fundamentalists. I include white supremacists; Jewish extremists; Christian extremists; Hutus; Tutsis; Serbs; Croats; Georgians; militant politicos; etc. But the 80 year old grandma with her 7 and 4 year old grandchildren are not likely terrorists. Nor is the bedraggled single mom with two little ones and a new born in a car seat. (Altho she has good reason to want to kill herself and everyone around her for several years to come)

Our security measures are always reactions, not proactive. A guy puts explosives in his shoe, so now we take off our shoes. A guy puts explosives in his underwear, so now we have machines that essentially xray our testicles. Let's be honest, anyone can smuggle just about anything onto an airplane by shoving it up their ass. And that is very likely what the next lunatic trying to blow up a plane is going to do. And these machines and a pat down won't discover it.

I would like to believe that on my next flight, if I am asked to go thru the scanner that I will say that subjecting my body to even low-level xray radiation is an infraction of the American reasonable search and seizure laws. And, quite frankly, unless I am reasonably considered a security threat, touching my groin or the crack of my ass, is off limits also.

I am happy to walk thru anything that scans without radiation. I am happy to be patted down along my arms, legs and back if it is deemed necessary. I am happy to answer any reasonable questions regarding me, my travel plans, etc. And if they think I'm really suspicious, I am happy to have a bomb-sniffing dog have a whiff of my crotch. (Hell, if it's a cute dog, it can even have a little lick)

But beyond that, someone has got to charge me with something. El Al, the Israeli airline is probably the safest in the world. A large percentage of terrorists would love to attack an El Al flight. Their safety record is impeccable. Why? They question each and every passenger. It takes about 1-2 minutes - less time than we currently spend opening bags and putting 3 ounce hand creams in plastic bags. They know what to look for and after asking some questions, they determine if someone is reasonably suspicious. I respect and admire their process. And it should be ours.

This is all to say that I hope people will demand better of our leaders on this one. We are not a nation of thugs and we don't need to be treated like common criminals. We have rights, and they and we should be respected. Yeah, we need the airlines. But they need us more. And after lost bags, cancelled flights; endless delays; overweight charges, carryon charges, plastic bags, shoes, belts, computers, no water bottles and pilots being stripped of a miniature screwdriver that keeps their glasses from falling off their faces --- I think we need to start telling our leaders and our industries where we draw the line.


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