23 November 2010

The TSA annoys me. But that's utterly irrelevant.

Mother Jones | Kevin Drum | My TSA Anti-Rant

I hate the TSA screening process. Everyone hates the TSA screening process. You'd be crazy not to. It's intrusive, annoying, and time-wasting. It treats us all like common criminals even though most of us are just ordinary schlubs trying to get on a plane and go somewhere.

But guess what? The fact that you personally are annoyed — you! an educated white-collar professional! — doesn't mean that the process is idiotic.
True. But the contrapositive is also true: the fact that Kevin Drum doesn't find it unduly odious doesn't meant that the process isn't idiotic.

That's why I (and many other people with a modicum of critical thinking skills) have not made our decisions based on how annoying the process is, or our feelings and moods generally, but instead have come to conclusions based on analysis and thought.

For instance:
Coyote Blog | Warren Meyer | Missing the Point

The point is not, as implied by Drum, that current TSA screening isn’t protection against certain types of threats. Let’s be generous and assume that the TSA’s screening, generally concocted in a barn-door approach after someone tries a particular approach, is effective at catching the threats it is designed to catch.

The point is that nearly anyone with a room temperature IQ can think of 20 ways to attack an airplane that is not covered by the screening. If there are, say, a hundred imaginable threats, how much privacy do you want to give up to protect yourself from 35 of them?

For example, you know what is in the cargo hold below your seat? The US Mail. You know how much screening is performed on the US Mail? Zero. How hard would it be to wire up a package with a bomb and an altimeter, or perhaps just a noise sensor, and send it off airmail. They screen the crap out of your bags and body and then throw them on the plane right next to a bunch of anonymous, unscrutinized cargo. And that is just one example.

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