Security Balances

From this Yahoo! article:

He was sympathetic, but accepted the Transportation Security Administration’s reasons for the ban.

“What are you going to do?” he said. “I guess you have to be safe.”

Amanda Volz, a TSA screener in Minneapolis, said she hoped more travelers would take that attitude Friday.

“There’s some moaning and groaning, and a few people who get angry, but once you explain it to them, they are more lenient about giving it up,” Volz said. “You just try to make them understand that it’s for their safety.”

Lots of things are done for safety. But they aren’t always the best choice, or the most useful. And there’s usually more than one way to make something safe and secure.

A temporary ban on liquids being brought on to the planes makes sense in this situation, because of the possibility of copycats and/or a missed accomplice. But at most this ban should last a few weeks and be lifted.
Instead, it will become permanent. Some idiot politicians are already yelping that it’s the end of carry-on luggage all together. Sort of premature, especially since Congress has no direct involvement in that sort of decision.

Banning carry-on would hardly eliminate the possibility of explosives being smuggled aboard. Remember the “shoe bomber”? Of course explosives could be ingested and then excreted, or hidden inside body cavities. Every method used for drug smuggling could be used for explosives. Only difference is the need to trigger the explosive once onboard. Bio-chemistry and electronics make that remarkably easy.

Explosive checking on carry-on baggage is a good idea, and should apply to all boarders, attendants and pilots included. But the real focus has to be on catching and stopping terrorists before these plans get implemented. This plot was foiled literally at the last minute. Why? Was it not detected sooner? Were the law enforcement agents hoping to catch more terrorists? Or glean additional info? Maybe that’ll come out over the next few months. But I for one would rather the plans to commit attrocities be cut-off well in advance of implementation.

Better screening of passengers would be a big step forward. Currently it’s still too easy to get a ticket. You don’t even need to show your face to do so, it can be done entirely online. Stolen credit cards can even be used if a malicious person acts quickly enough. And anyone can walk into an airport, including baggage pick-up areas. While I’m not in favor of losing all the advanages the Internet provides in terms of travel arrangements, the proper balance of security and convenience must be obtained.

Socially, politically and technically our country has been focused on balancing security with freedoms, to maintain convenience. This is the wrong formula. We should be balancing security and convenience to maintain freedom.

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