TSA standards invade passengers' privacy
Writer Trevor York, '12.
Many find themselves dreading air travel during the holidays for various reasons: tremendous crowds, the fear of lost luggage or the possibility of losing children at an airport. It seems that situations have now gotten worse, and instead of worrying about these obstacles, people will be looking at a whole new Goliath: Airport security standards.
Recent changes in Transportation Security Administration (TSA) standards have drastically changed protocol. The administration now requires either a full body scan -- exposing the passenger's nude body over a simulation -- or a pat-down which leaves nothing unchecked.
These changes appear to come as a response to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Dec. 28 of last year, when a terrorist was caught with explosives in his underwear, and was therefore dubbed the Underwear Bomber.
The TSA believes these new rules are needed in order to protect the nation's security, but many lawsuits, contending that the body pat-downs invade privacy, have been made against the TSA in past years, even before these new protocols were instituted.
The case United States vs. Marquez is one instance in which a civilian challenged the TSA standards and claimed that giving a "randomly" selected passenger a pat down is a breach of the Fourth Amendment, which does not allow the government to "search and seize one's property without reasonable cause."
The issue of personal violation has been hotly debated in recent months, and now the TSA enforces a much more invasive process which may require passengers to get much more comfortable with TSA officers than they would prefer to. People should not have to worry about being frisked if they take a flight to Aunt Betty's house for Christmas.
Yet the problem does not lie with people being physically molested going through the entrance. The problem lies in the fact that TSA believes that if they continue to make more stringent protocols, then it will be impossible to detonate a bomb on an airplane. Maybe in a few years, we should enter the airport naked to plainly show we do not have any weapons on or attached to us.
"If the TSA has any more questions for safer airline standards, the answer is simple: Ask the Israelis." --Trevor York, '12
The ugly truth is that terrorists are very innovative and will most likely find a way around even the most stringent standards. Making bigger and more sophisticated machinery which can scan every region of human anatomy is not the answer. The answer may be much simpler and more to-the-point.
Israeli airline El Al Airlines is known as the safest airline in the world, and maintains this reputation by personally screening, interviewing and profiling all of the passengers in order to determine if they could potentially be harmful. Despite the measures of El Al Airlines, TSA still believes that body-scanning and pat-downs are the answer.
The solution may be something much simpler than invasive technology: knowing who is flying on the plane. Instead of searching everyone from a suspicious man with glasses to an elderly citizen going home to see his family, passengers should be assessed first on their histories and character.
For an efficient, less-invasive security system, only the "more suspicious" passengers may be screened extensively. I believe that people would not mind shelling out an extra $50 to hire agents whose sole mission is to screen passengers to gain secure, comfortable airline security standards.
Although this is the safest way to protect the airlines of America, it could potentially lead to profiling a person based on his past jobs, birthplace and previous whereabouts. Profiling from the TSA would lead to intense law suits against the U.S. Government, which is the last thing the TSA and government need right now. However, all of these troubles may ultimately be worth the elimination of physical molestation and may lead to safer air travel.
If the TSA has any more questions for safer airline standards, the answer is simple: Ask the Israelis.
For more political opinions, read the Dec. 16 column, Tax-cut debate misses point.