Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fixing a train wreck

I get some criticism for not proposing how to "fix" airline security. The thing is, as long as the feds are in charge of airline security, this thing is not fixable. My solution - as I've said before - is that the people who have the most to lose should be in charge of security air travel. That is, the airline and airport owners themselves should be in charge of security. Having your own property blown up and/or used as a weapon (assuming the feds won't bail you out as they did after 9/11) is bad for business, so these owners have the most incentive to prevent terrorism on their property.

But, there are always solutions that are proposed that don't think outside of the TSA box. Like this one - a man who is looking to cash in on security thinks his dog idea is the best one. (This article was interesting to me as a sort of history of airport tech, though). Or this hand-held millimeter wave scanner. Or even castration of TSA agents (okay - this last one is a joke). In my opinion, all of these (including the magnetometers that have been used for decades) violate the 4th Amendment. I realize that the courts have ruled otherwise, but the language of the Constitution is clear:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Buying a plane ticket does not make you a criminal, therefore all airport searches are unreasonable. And, since the TSA does not have a warrant for each individual, they are illegal. (Of course, they can't get a warrant since they don't know what they are looking for or what crime is alleged ahead of time.)

To the extent that, in my hypothetical ideal security situation, US Air decides that they want to use backscatters, puffers, dogs, and behavior monitoring on all of their passengers, I would probably choose to not be a customer of US Air. In all likelihood, another airline would see an opening here to provide better customer service and draw my business. I'm not saying that the solutions above are bad ideas; it's just that the TSA will never be fixed through a technological or procedural solution. The only solution is to abolish the TSA (and to not replace it with another federal agency).