Grope, no. Profile, yes.
I had problems with airport security long before 2001. I wasn’t exactly a frequent flyer, but I did several domestic and several international flights a year for a goodly number of years and found US security staff seemed to go out of their way to be unreasonable and unpleasant. I’m not feeling a lot of sympathy.
Granted, I have carried some odd things onto planes. Like a few jars of pond scum. Or that time I just totally lost track of just how much small change had accumulated in the bottom of my purse, and what that would look like on x-ray (I’ll never forget the look on my boss’ face when they upended that sucker and all those pennies tinkled out).
Oddly, airline staff didn’t bat an eye when I checked a fifty-pound bronze sculpture of a tiger in my luggage. It would have made a hell of a good bomb, too. Go figure.
Anyhow, the TSA has to be very low paid work, as it definitely seems to attract a certain type. And I don’t mean Rhodes scholars.
We’re still chasing the last terrorist scheme. Usually, a failed one. Millions of people feed shoes to an x-ray machine every day because of Richard Reid’s failed bomb nine years ago. Folks, they’ll never do shoes again. Next time, it’ll be a belt buckle or a laptop computer or a rectum. Short of stripping us down, feeling us up and giving us hospital johnnies to wear on the flight, we aren’t going to cover every possible hidey hole.
Would this have worked even for the plots we know about? Both the shoe bomber and the panty bomber used the same stuff — a powder that is mixed with a liquid to make a plastic explosive. That ain’t going to show up on these clever new x-ray machines. Carefully sewn into a garment, would it be obvious even to a good, hard grope?
The TSA only screens US-to-US flights. Chances are, threats from here on out will be coming from outside the US. Very likely going through Heathrow (or Gatwick). I’ve flown out of both many times. They don’t just wave you through, but they seem to have an eye-roll view of American security procedures. No junk-groping for the Brits, ta.
We do too profile, sometimes. I got pulled out of line just as I was getting on a plane (Boston to London) and gently questioned. It was one of those Christmases with the heightened alerts. I don’t know who the questioner was, but he was brief, pleasant and professional. I’m convinced he picked on me because I was wearing dark aviator sunglasses and looking harried. Okay, maybe middle-aged American women aren’t the most insightful demographic to give second glances too, but paying extra attention to people who look stressed out…is a start.
Have you seen their recruits? There were eight quiet years between the failed shoe bomber and the failed panty bomber. And those two guys should’ve rung all kinds of alarm bells. So, yeah, I’m sure al Qaeda would love to enlist a few Midwestern grannies to fly under our security radar, but they’re having a hard time getting desperate losers from the third-world shit-holes to sign on at the moment.
They’re reduced to recruiting inkjet printers, mailing them from suspicious addresses to suspicious addresses, and bragging that it only cost $4,200 to assemble their latest FAIL.
I’m thinking a leeeetle teeny tiny bit of profiling should be plenty.