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Does the TSA Really Keep Us Safe?

November 16th, 2010

Do you really believe that the threat level is “elevated” or that there are imminent threats from all sides at all times and only the grace of god and the high-school dropouts in the royal blue TSA clown suits at the airports have been able to keep us safe? If so, hopefully you have more faith in the grace of god than you do the TSA.

bright blue clown suitsThe last time I flew, I arrived in my hotel only to discover that I hadn’t remembered to separate my toiletries (cologne, toothpaste, deodorant, shaving cream) from the rest of my luggage for the security screening at DTW. I wasn’t pulled aside, so either the TSA goons were asleep at the wheel, or they didn’t care, or it doesn’t matter that you bring a 3oz bottle of cologne on an airplane. I think it’s probably a combination of all three.

Proponents of the new porno scanners and aggressive grope searches like to point out examples like the underpants bomber at Detroit last year. But he was thwarted by more or less conventional techniques: the porno scanners and dick-fondling didn’t exist as a matter of procedure last year. These procedures didn’t exist last month. And the historical record is pretty much the same: nobody has successfully smuggled a bomb on to a flight originating in the US in over 50 years.

I love being treated like a criminal by the TSAI’ve maintained all along that the threat of terrorism is — to be quite frank — not unlike the bogeyman or any other folklore monster, contrived to keep people frightened, timid, and complacent. I’ll admit that the theatric value of blowing up an airplane mid-flight is unrivaled by pretty much anything a would-be group of bad guys could possibly hope to accomplish. In actuality, the only means less discriminate and more extravagantly destructive are available only to state militaries.

The fact of the matter is, as I’ve said previously, if these threats are real, then mathematically speaking there should have been many more successful terrorist acts on US soil.Maybe “many” is three, maybe it’s a dozen, maybe it’s 20 or 100. That’s for some actuary to work out.

Not just airports — although those are certainly soft enough that a coordinated attack could raise serious hell, like a dozen dudes with suitcases packed full of C4 or something in a dozen airports across the country — but shopping malls, sporting venues, etc., where any organization with the will and a relatively minimal amount of firepower, could kill hundreds of people in a few minutes. And comparatively easier (than bombing an airplane) to pull off successfully.

The smart money says that there is no credible threat, because soft targets haven’t been hit, and they’re as ripe for the picking today as they have ever been.

So all this extra “security” isn’t making us any safer.  It might make you feel safer, they’re “protecting” you from a threat that doesn’t really exist.



  • Another Michael says on: November 17, 2010 at 2:32 pm


    I wonder who actually feels safer due to the presence of the TSA? One’s odds of dying due to an in-flight terrorist attack might be somewhat higher than those of dying at the hands of a TSA agent, but either event is extremely unlikely. Probably terrorism would rank among the lowest sources of anxiety among air travelers if it weren’t for the ubiquitous security forces and continuous reminders of the alert level.

    On the other hand, one’s odds of being publicly humiliated, unreasonably detained, and having one’s property confiscated by terrorists is literally zero. In that regard, the TSA actually presents a credible risk to the average traveler.

    Now there are concerns about radiation exposure due to the full-body scanners. I haven’t looked into it, so I’m not sure if these are founded. Still, even a minuscule elevation of cancer risk could easily make airport security more deadly than flight-related terrorism.

  • Don says on: November 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm


    If a jackboot is in your sight your chances of being harmed are far greater than any terrorist attack. The jackboots are domestic terrorists. Just this morning I read where 67% of those polled said they *feel* safer due to the TSA. How can this be explained? Plain old fashioned ignorance fueled by laziness thats how. The US citizenry excels are these two things, thus the liberty stealers prevail.

    Notice the word *feel* above. Nobody thinks anymore, everybody feels stuff. The feel of the yoke on their neck is comforting.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics