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How to Stop Terrorism in the Skies? Privatize the TSA
Posted By JE Tabler On January 11, 2010 @ 9:15 am In NewsReal Blog | No Comments
Who in his right mind would choose to put his life in the hands of the Transportation Safety Administration? Given the option, would you rather fly an airline run by the people who brought us such successes as Social Security, public education, and Cash for Clunkers, or an airline which always holds itself accountable for its own security and whose reputation and survival as a business depends upon its track record? I would put my money – and my life – on the latter.
On Friday’s Glenn Beck, Judge Napolitano discussed privatizing the TSA with Nick Gillespie from Reason.com, Stuart Varney, and the Ayn Rand Center’s Harry Binswanger. Judge Nap makes some valid points about the right to bear arms keeping us safer on planes (from about 3:50 on in the video below), but I would prefer that an airline just keep terrorists off of planes in the first place to a shootout at 20,000 feet which turns out relatively well. All four make good cases as to why the private sector can keep us safer than the government can.
I could list a hundred reasons why privatizing the TSA and holding individual airlines wholly accountable for their own security would be advantageous from the consumer’s standpoint, from efficiency and price to the possibility of keeping my shoes on for an entire trip or even packing nail clippers in my carry-on, but at the end of the day I just want to feel safe when I fly. I don’t feel safe in the TSA’s hands. I want to fly an airline which openly engages in the sort of discrimination in which the government cannot engage (e.g., on the basis of national origin or ethnicity) and which singles people out for questioning based upon those factors and accurate intelligence. I want to fly an airline like El Al.
Forget the TSA’s pathetic track record. These last two weeks, when we were watching most closely, the TSA let us down repeatedly. First, Janet Napolitano told us that “the system worked,” before she admitted that it did not. Then we learned that US intelligence found Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to be suspicious enough to plan to question him on the ground in Detroit, after he had landed. If someone is suspicious enough for Customs and Border Protection to question him upon entry into the country, that individual is suspicious enough to question before he is allowed to pass through to the terminal at the airport.
But we cannot trust the TSA to guard our airport terminals, as last week’s Newark episode demonstrated so clearly when a TSA guard left his post for 15 minutes, video equipment failed to record the area in question when someone bypassed security, and then the TSA failed (yes, again) to notify the Port Authority in short order. They cannot even handle damage control, let alone al-Qaeda.
I do not blame the TSA for being incompetent. I blame government itself for being incompetent. Government cannot run the Post Office, and they only transport things, not people. Why is Israel’s El Al the world’s safest airline? Because they are privately-owned and -run and because the market demands airtight security. Well, terrorists seem to be more focused on blowing up American airliners than Israeli ones these days. I think the reason for that lies not so much in who happens to be at the top of the jihadi “Death to so-and-so” list at the moment, but in the simple fact that terrorists find it much easier to clear U.S. security. But don’t ask me. Ask Richard Reid.
I want to fly an airline which screens passengers thoroughly and based on behavioral patterns, which cares more about its security track record than political correctness, which in all likelihood would almost never allow anyone who has traveled to Yemen on one of its planes, and which profiles Muslims between 18 and 45 instead of scanning the bodies of 80-year-old nuns. I would happily pay considerably more to fly such an airline, and I know that there must be a market for one. So let the market, not the government, dictate how we fly securely.
Photo credit: People’s Cube.
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