About the Post

Author Information

Former Under Secretary of Homeland Security, Author of “Deadly Indifference”, National Security Blog Expert - The National Journal, Political Blogger - The Daily Caller, Radio Talk Show Host - "The Michael Brown Show", Founder & Chairman - Apoklayyis, Inc.

TSA: Have The Terrorists Won & Why I Obsess Over TSA

Assault & Battery Any Place Other Than An Airport

Regular readers, friends and listeners of the radio program know that I tend to obsess about TSA. Between almost being arrested for trying to protect my personal property, to the insanity of the procedures used by TSA, I feel a need to do some penance for not having objected more vociferously to the creation of TSA when working in the Bush Administration. It has become even more of a monstrosity than even I imagined.

I recently discussed the incident where TSA continuously inspected my personal belongings, leading to an encounter with a TSO and a Denver Police Department officer where I actually thought I was going to be arrested for trying to protect my own property. A TSO (transportation security officer – that name drives me nuts as the name and badge the TSO’s wear implies they have law enforcement authority when they have none), wouldn’t let me stand where I could visually watch my property. I’ve always known that personal property is subject to theft by TSA. This week came this story: TSA: Is that my iPad in your pants or are you just happy to frisk me? Seriously, stuffing iPads into your pants and selling them while you’re still on duty at the airport? Yes, TSA, I am going to watch my property at the airport.

But the more serious problem – and why I truly obsess about TSA – is that it is the most obvious example in our daily lives how the terrorists have won and how the government simply cannot get it right when it comes to homeland security. Over at HotAir was this story that caught my attention: Do TSA procedures mean the terrorists have won? What really caught my attention was reference to a point that I have made numerous times, among others: the backscatter machines and enhanced pat down procedures are law enforcement techniques that are demeaning to a law abiding, U.S. citizen, exercising their right to travel. Referring to an article by Richard Engel of NBC News, HotAir writes:

His epiphany arrived when asked to pose for the TSA’s new backscatter scanners, and watched a 7-year-old go through the same process:

In Baghdad, I had to go through an earlier model of the machine before I was allowed to enter a courtroom for the trial of Saddam Hussein. That seemed reasonable at the time. There were millions of Iraqis who wanted to kill Saddam, or to at least disrupt his trial. The blurred-naked-photo-machine didn’t bother me then.

It did bother me as I stood with my feet in outlines on the floor and my hands over my head, palms pressed together in Los Angeles. It bothered me even more as I watched a girl who couldn’t have been more than 7 years old forced to assume the same undignified position. I watched her mother help the girl, showing her how to raise her hands in the correct position.

We are raising a generation of Americans who think that it is acceptable, even good, that as we travel we assume a defenseless posture as though we had been arrested on the side of the highway by the state police for drunk driving. We have come to accept that a government employee groping our crotch, running their hands up and down our legs, is acceptable behavior toward a law abiding citizen, although the same behavior outside an airport would be assault and battery, perhaps even sexual assault.

Ed Morrissey continues to write that the Israeli model is a good example of how genuine security works. I agree, but as I have often said, I am not convinced the Israeli model would work in the United States. We don’t have the mind-set that this is a serious business. Nor do we have a culture that says freedom must be protected that is inculcated from birth. Instead, we have a culture that is more focused on union rights, which bargaining unit will represent TSA employees, what are the grievance procedures, how much passenger electronics can one steal, et al.

The solution? As a start abolish TSA. Get the airline executives, airport executives and associated airport business owners together and tell them – security is your responsibility. You have a vested interest in protecting your businesses, airport facilities and passengers. Figure it out, go do it. The same government that gave us the Department of Energy (to reduce foreign oil dependence), the Department of Education (to improve education standards), and the Department of Homeland Security (to do what 22 other agencies were already effectively doing on their own) cannot and should not be expected to do what the private sector can obviously do better. Instead, have the federal government focus its efforts on intelligence to look for terrorists, not things.

I strongly encourage you to read Ed Morrissey’s piece here and Richard Engel’s piece Is high security backfiring in U.S.?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “TSA: Have The Terrorists Won & Why I Obsess Over TSA”

  1. JW Mills #

    Michael, How many times do you have to be told – the government can do nothing right except blow up things and kill people – and that isn’t the civilians it is the military.

    Now days the business of the federal government is to enrich politicians and let them enjoy their power trip. I do hope I live long enough to see the American people put the situation right.

    Protect and serve? – my

    July 8, 2011 at 5:04 pm
  2. Jim Walsh #

    Michael. this will never be implemented, it makes way too much sense

    July 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm