November 18, 2010

First they carried box cutters aboard to hijack the airplane, so we got screened for sharp instruments. Then they carried an explosive in their shoe so we had to take off our shoes for x-raying. Then they hid something in their underwear so now we get visually or physically groped. What is next you might wonder?

People are smuggling over three pounds of heroin in their stomachs; can they not just as easily swallow explosives and detonators?

Consider that it took only 45 pounds of Semtex to blow the entire front off a three story building in Saudi Arabia. Three pounds could certainly bring down an airplane with us or our loved ones onboard.

So what is next, x-ray imaging our insides? We may be debating the effects of the screeners today, but we already know with certainty the harmful effect of being x-rayed repeatedly.

So what should we do?

First, we need to identify terrorists before they take overt action. That means focusing the resources required to find and deal with them. And yes that means profiling, which is a lot less intrusive than what we are being asked to accept in order to get on an airplane. If we automatically give our permission to be groped when we buy a ticket, then we also give our permission to be profiled.

Then we need a security system based on a biometric scanning device using readily available technology that can image the veins in a finger. Each person could pass the checkpoint by simply sticking a finger in a reader to verify their identity. And we could apply some of the $8.2B we are spending on TSA to implement this and save the rest of that money.

Anyone not willing to be processed for a security ID that is no more intrusive then getting a Passport can get in line to be searched while the rest of us get to keep our dignity intact.

Rex A. Hoover