For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance

For the First Time, the TSA Meets Resistance – Jeffrey Goldberg – National – The Atlantic:

One officer said to a colleague who was obviously going to be assigned to me, “Get new gloves, man, you’re going to need them where you’re going.” The agent snapped on his blue gloves, and patiently explained exactly where he was going to touch me. I felt like a sophomore at Oberlin. “I’m going to run my hands up your thighs, and then feel your buttocks, then I’m going to reach under you until I meet —” “Resistance?” I interrupted. “Yes, resistance. Do you want to go into a private room?” he asked. “Are you asking me into a private room?” I said. He looked confused. I said, “No, here is fine.” He felt me up good, but not great. It was not in any way the best pat-down I’ve ever received. The most thorough search I’ve ever experienced was in the Bekaa Valley, by Hezbollah security officers. That took quite awhile, and the Resistance really manhandled my Resistance. There was no cavity search, of course — no magazine story, even one about Hezbollah terrorism — is worth that. But it was the fairly full Monty. I draw three lessons from this week’s experience: The pat-down, while more effective than previous pat-downs, will not stop dedicated and clever terrorists from smuggling on board small weapons or explosives. When I served as a military policeman in an Israeli army prison, many of the prisoners “bangled” contraband up their asses. I know this not because I checked, but because eventually they told me this when I asked. The second lesson is that the effectiveness of pat-downs does not matter very much, because the obvious goal of the TSA is to make the pat-down embarrassing enough for the average passenger that the vast majority of people will choose high-tech humiliation over the low-tech ball check. The third lesson remains constant: By the time terrorist plotters make it to the airport, it is, generally speaking, too late to stop them. Plots must be broken up long before the plotters reach the target. If they are smart enough to make it to the airport without arrest, it is almost axiomatically true that they will be smart enough to figure out a way to bring weapons aboard a plane.

(via Instapaper)