TSA 'groping' procedure a result of administration blindness to terror threat

David Paulin
At long last, a newspaper editorial hits the nail on the head regarding the TSA's new groping polices: Stop humiliating innocent airline passengers and do what Israel's security-conscious El Al does -- profiling.

The Washington Times makes this point in
an editorial aptly titled "Obama's Hand in Your Crotch."

The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new "enhanced pat-down" procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do.

El Al, Israel's national airline, employs a smarter approach. Any airline representing the state of Israel is a natural - some might say preeminent - target for terrorist attacks. Yet El Al has one of the best security records in the world and doesn't resort to wide-scale use of methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault. The Israelis have achieved this track record of safety by employing sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not. Resources are then focused on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not to be terrorists.

Interestingly, growing public outrage over the TSA's excesses and political correctness may end up benefiting the GOP. Writing in the Washington Examiner, political correspondent Byron York notes that Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican, is zeroing in on the TSA. The agency, Mica contends, has become a "a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy" -- its security checks all but useless against would-be terrorists. Mica will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, notes the Examiner's piece, "Amid airport anger, GOP takes aim at screening."

York, based on an interview with Mica, writes that the "TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what (its) critics call "security theater" -- that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. "That's exactly what it is," Mica tells him. "It's a big Kabuki dance."


Interestingly, the TSA has in fact created security checks in some airports inspired by El Al-style profiling, writes York. They're part of a system called SPOT: "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques." "The problem is, they're doing it all wrong," writes York, citing a recent study from the Government Accountability Office.

"It's not an Israeli model, it's a TSA, screwed-up model," he quotes Mica as saying.


Indeed, York explains:


In a May 2010 letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mica noted that the GAO "discovered that since the program's inception, at least 17 known terrorists...have flown on 24 different occasions, passing through security at eight SPOT airports." One of those known terrorists was Faisal Shahzad, who made it past SPOT monitors onto a Dubai-bound plane at New York's JFK International Airport not long after trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Federal agents nabbed him just before departure.

Ultimately, it probably won't be TSA agents who stop the next would-be terrorist from blowing up an airliner. It will be passengers themselves. After all, it was passengers who thwarted shoe-bomber Richard Reid and underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In other cases, passengers were the first to alert flight attendants to the presence of fellow passengers (young men of Middle Eastern origin) who were acting suspiciously -- roaming about the cabin and changing seats for no apparent reason.

Among other things, Rep. Mica says private contractors working under federal supervision may do a better job than the TSA. One thing is certain: The Congressman has much work to do.

At long last, a newspaper editorial hits the nail on the head regarding the TSA's new groping polices: Stop humiliating innocent airline passengers and do what Israel's security-conscious El Al does -- profiling.

The Washington Times makes this point in
an editorial aptly titled "Obama's Hand in Your Crotch."

The Transportation Security Administration's demeaning new "enhanced pat-down" procedures are a direct result of the Obama administration's willful blindness to the threat from Islamic radicals. While better tools are available to keep air travelers safe, they would involve recognizing the threat for what it is, which is something the White House will never do.

El Al, Israel's national airline, employs a smarter approach. Any airline representing the state of Israel is a natural - some might say preeminent - target for terrorist attacks. Yet El Al has one of the best security records in the world and doesn't resort to wide-scale use of methods that would under other circumstances constitute sexual assault. The Israelis have achieved this track record of safety by employing sophisticated intelligence analysis which allows them to predict which travelers constitute a possible threat and which do not. Resources are then focused on the more probable threats with minimal intrusion on those who are likely not to be terrorists.

Interestingly, growing public outrage over the TSA's excesses and political correctness may end up benefiting the GOP. Writing in the Washington Examiner, political correspondent Byron York notes that Rep. John Mica, a Florida Republican, is zeroing in on the TSA. The agency, Mica contends, has become a "a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy" -- its security checks all but useless against would-be terrorists. Mica will soon be chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, notes the Examiner's piece, "Amid airport anger, GOP takes aim at screening."

York, based on an interview with Mica, writes that the "TSA has become dangerously ineffective. Its specialty is what (its) critics call "security theater" -- that is, a show of what appear to be stringent security measures designed to make passengers feel more secure without providing real security. "That's exactly what it is," Mica tells him. "It's a big Kabuki dance."


Interestingly, the TSA has in fact created security checks in some airports inspired by El Al-style profiling, writes York. They're part of a system called SPOT: "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques." "The problem is, they're doing it all wrong," writes York, citing a recent study from the Government Accountability Office.

"It's not an Israeli model, it's a TSA, screwed-up model," he quotes Mica as saying.


Indeed, York explains:


In a May 2010 letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Mica noted that the GAO "discovered that since the program's inception, at least 17 known terrorists...have flown on 24 different occasions, passing through security at eight SPOT airports." One of those known terrorists was Faisal Shahzad, who made it past SPOT monitors onto a Dubai-bound plane at New York's JFK International Airport not long after trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square. Federal agents nabbed him just before departure.

Ultimately, it probably won't be TSA agents who stop the next would-be terrorist from blowing up an airliner. It will be passengers themselves. After all, it was passengers who thwarted shoe-bomber Richard Reid and underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. In other cases, passengers were the first to alert flight attendants to the presence of fellow passengers (young men of Middle Eastern origin) who were acting suspiciously -- roaming about the cabin and changing seats for no apparent reason.

Among other things, Rep. Mica says private contractors working under federal supervision may do a better job than the TSA. One thing is certain: The Congressman has much work to do.