If there was a group on Facebook called “Not a fan of the TSA,” I’d join it.
Of course, I’d probably be placed on the no-fly list just for joining.
But I do not like the Transportation Security Administration one little bit. It’s not the individual officers that I dislike (though some of them missed their calling as bill collectors and DMV employees). It’s the total waste of taxpayer money that I find distasteful.
After the Christmas Day attempted bombing of that Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, I was not looking forward to flying today and encountering the “stepped up” security barriers that CNN and NPR have been blathering about for two weeks. After walking through security (I removed my shoes but not my belt or underwear, thank goodness), I don’t feel even a smidgen safer than I did when I was walking through loose metal detectors at the airport years ago.
I was such a security risk, I shut down an airport once. Yup, dangerous little anarchistic me. Shortly after 9/11, the crack TSA team at the tiny Central Minnesota airport where I was attempting to board a — gasp! — international flight detected a “bomb-making substance” on my laptop. The bright bulbs at the airport let me — the presumed bomb maker — board the plane, and the plane jetted off. They then shut down the airport and called in the bomb squad only find my keyboard had been smeared with — gasp! — glycerin-based hand lotion.
I got my computer back eventually, and I’m sure some TSA supervisor patted himself on the back for narrowly escaping another tragedy. In reality, it was an exercise in futility.
See, terrorists are clever. And they are willing to kill themselves, let alone get caught with a bomb-making substance in their underwear. I’m sure the next step is Al Qaeda surgeons implanting bombs inside terrorists’ bodies. Americans are under the mistaken conception that they can actually control these suicidal maniacs.
If we would loosen our grip just a little, we could enjoy using real knives in an airport restaurant, move briskly through an I.D. check at the gate (even check our identity against a no-fly list), and bring cheap bottled water and enormous bottles of shampoo with us on our carry-on luggage. But instead, we’re talking about x-ray machines that show every nipple (but not the contents of your bodily cavities, by the way) and smackdowns on the use of electronic devices during the last hour of flight.
We cannot control chaos, people.
A better use of tax dollars to keep us safe: More air marshalls and better training for travelers. Yes, training for us, the travelers. Who ultimately brought down the fourth plane on Sept. 11, 2001? Passengers. Who tackled the Christmas Day bomber? A vigilant — and fearless — passenger.
Imagine if the flight attendants’ pre-flight script included tips on spotting suspicious behavior instead of ridiculous instructions about using the seat cushion as a life preserver (c’mon, Capt. Sullenberger’s miracle landing on the Hudson was a miracle, not an everyday occurence). What if we were all forced to share a greeting of peace like we do in church before take-off? The guy with his hands in his underwear instead of sharing a peaceful handshake might be considered suspicious, don’t you think?
I’d rather risk coming under the suspicions of the passenger next to me than pay for another one of those sharp-looking TSA uniforms that give the illusion of control.
Might force everyone on the plane to be a little more Minnesota-nice, and whether there’s a terrorist on the plane or not, that couldn’t hurt.