Like most government agencies, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA — I thought that stood for “Thousands Standing Around”) has been reactive, not creative. After September 11th, they confiscated pen knives and nail clippers. After the attempt by shoe-bomber Richard Reid, they ordered us to shuffle barefoot through metal detectors. Now that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly hid explosives in his underwear, they take our blankets and pillows, and tell us not to use the bathrooms the last hour of the flight.
Stephen Flynn of the Center for National Policy lists 5 myths about keeping America safe from terrorism. Among them:
Investing in new technology is key to better security.
Not necessarily. Technology can be helpful, but too often it ends up being part of the problem. Placing too much reliance on sophisticated tools such as X-ray machines often leaves the people staffing our front lines consumed with monitoring and troubleshooting these systems. Consequently, they become more caught up in process than outcomes. And as soon procedures become routine, a determined bad guy can game them. We would do well to heed two lessons the U.S. military has learned from combating insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan: First, don't do things in rote and predictable ways, and second, don't alienate the people you are trying to protect. Too much of what is promoted as homeland security disregards these lessons. It is true that technology such as full-body imaging machines, which have received so much attention in the past week, are far more effective than metal detectors at screening airline passengers. But new technologies are also expensive, and they are no substitute for well-trained professionals who are empowered and rewarded for exercising good judgment
Flynn also deflates other myths, such as "Terrorism is the gravest threat facing the American people" and "Getting better control over America's borders is essential to making us safer."