Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An assessment I agree with

The Atlantic has an editorial amid the recent pushes by Rep Chaffetz that the TSA implement more use of dogs. The truth of its final paragraphs can't be denied:
...  Most Americans ... understand that reinforced cockpit doors and the determination of airline passengers to fight back against hijackers are the most important security innovations to occur since 9/11.

In my estimation, TSA's failure to encourage assertiveness among the traveling public is its biggest failure of omission. Passengers, not screening personnel, stopped the shoe bomber and that guy who lit his underwear on fire. But air travelers are never explicitly told to fight if necessary. Nor are volunteers trained to function as something between a neighborhood watch program and a mile high national guard. We rely on surprisingly costly air marshals when with a little effort, a percentage of the traveling public might be persuaded to undergo training. Certainly they would've done so if asked by the president shortly after the September 11 attacks. Instead we've created a clunky bureaucracy that has mostly succeeded in making a subset of the traveling public feel embarrassed, violated, harassed, or otherwise upset. On the other hand, they've got 500 cute puppies.