Airline Safety, A Common Sense Approach
Let’s start out with the premise that the very largest portion of the USA population is both law abiding and loves America (what’s left of it). We are at last count about 310 million Americans. Are there terrorists among us? Yes, no doubt. The question is do we have to abuse the 310 million citizens on the outside chance that we will find the one terrorist in our midst on any given day? Can not the vast majority of us get a Loyalty Exemption?
Say for example, you lose a metal object while you are at the beach. Would you go to the farthest point and work your way across the beach examining every grain of sand. Of course not, that would be ridiculous, right? You’d go to the place where you thought you lost the item and you’d use a rake or a metal detector to find the lost object. That would be the sensible, common sense approach. This example captures the essence of what is wrong with security at our airports. We are examing every person rather than focusing our attention on the malcontents and bad actors among us.
My record as a law abiding citizen is unimpeachable. Asides from parking violations and not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign every thirty years or so at 3AM in the morning , I consider myself not to be a threat to my country, my fellow citizens on the ground and more importantly when I am among them in a confined space flying five miles above the earth’s surface.
My government knows that I have paid my income, real estate, city, county and state taxes every year from 1958 onward. My government knows that I have voted in every minor and major election, dog catcher to President every time since 1958 onward. My government knows I have no criminal record, be it misdemeanor or felony in my past. They know how much I earn, where I live, what my home is worth, and from my IRS filings what my assets are. In short, they know I have a stake in America and that I am a bona fide American. They have access to what books I take out in my local library. Amazon has a record of every book I’ve bought and read since its inception, from that Amazon is able to ‘suggest’ books I might be interested in buying!
For all I know Big Brother has the ability to read my emails and track my Google searches if I am suspected of being a possible threat to the security of my country. If strangers can hijack my AOL address book and send out erectile dysfunction ads in my name, I would have to suppose that Big Brother could, if they wanted to, know who my friends, business associates and family are. So in summary the government should have the metrics to give me a score by examining all that info, giving each element a weight and applying an algorithmic formula so that I could be placed somewhere in the continuum between “no threat whatsoever” all the way up to “no way should this guy be in this country let alone get on a plane.”
In addition, in order to be able to walk through security measures unencumbered at the airport, I’d be willing to fill out a one-time 40 page questionnaire. I have nothing to hide. I would then allow the government one year to check me out and then give me the 100% security clearance a life time of good behavior has earned me. In this age of computers and shared data bases in which marketing companies study my credit card purchases and can construct a profile of what I buy and therefore are be able to construct a demographic profile of me then surely Big Brother could do the same. I’d give them permission to do so If I could be guaranteed that all the info gathered about me to give me a score were guaranteed to be kept confidential, or better still, erased once the profile was formed and my ‘loyalty score’ was issued.
Why on earth should I have to take my shoes off because some terrorist puts explosives in his shoes? Why should I have to be searched because some other terrorist puts explosives in his tightie-whities? Why should I expose myself to radiation and someone running their hands over my body? If the next terrorist puts explosives up his butt will we have to all go through proctology examinations? Where does it end (no pun intended)???
For those who will undoubtedly complain that this would be profiling, my answer is yes it would. Even more than me and those like me, the moderate Muslims (wherever they are now hiding) would benefit most since whether they like it or not it is their crazy and suicidal co-religionists that make them the primary targets of suspicion. Imagine if you were a patriotic American Muslim, wouldn’t you be delighted to walk onto any plane without being suspected because of your appearance, dress, name, beard, etc.?
I’m not a threat as most of my fellow passengers are not.
It’s safe to bet I am not in my dotage about to join an al Qaeda terrorist cell, swallow condoms filled with TNT, light the fuse and take down an airliner. Use the billions being spent wastefully to use not only interview techniques like the Israelis have done successfully for many, many years but use those resources to allow those of us who pose absolutely no threat to board with the absolutely minimum amount of intervention, embarrassment and inconvenience.