Our View: Airport security, at what cost?

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Travelers departing from Yampa Valley Regional Airport in Hayden this winter may be spared the controversial new full-body scan, but an intimate pat-down by Transportation Security Administration personnel isn’t out of the question.

The fervor that enveloped the nation the past two weeks regarding TSA’s new security measures may best be described as a head-on collision between the fundamental American principle of civil liberties and the realities of living in an age of terrorism.

Routt County’s only commercial airport doesn’t yet have one of the new full-body scanners decried by critics for capturing nude-like images of travelers. YVRA passengers are, however, subject to the new pat-down procedure that can include touching close to genitals.

As a resort community with an economy indirectly dependent upon the public’s confidence in air travel, it’s perhaps easier to digest the new security procedures if, in fact, they increase security. But who’s to say that they do? TSA and Homeland Security officials say the new procedures are in response to classified intelligence about potential future terrorist attacks as well as a response to so-called underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear during a Christmas Day flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last year.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been mostly understanding of increased security measures if they think they’re justified. But the TSA, which was created in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, continues to fail miserably in the way of public relations. In the latest episode, the federal agency declined to specify what the new security procedures entailed, instead leaving it up to passengers and then the media to spread the word themselves. Adding insult to injury in the eyes of many Americans, TSA announced last week that some government officials are allowed to skip the new procedures.

Much of the criticism heaped upon the TSA since its formation is no fault but its own. But there is a way out. Better hiring practices and more extensive training for TSA screeners is Step 1. Timely and honest communications with the traveling public is Step 2. Re-examination of existing policies to ensure the most serious security threats are being addressed is Step 3.

The American people can help by understanding that flying comes with some inconveniences. Perhaps it’s ultimately in the best interest of our safety that those inconveniences now include “enhanced” security procedures. But who’s to know until we see some evidence or research to back the worthiness of the new measures? Fortunately, unconvinced Americans have an easy way out in the interim: They don’t have to fly.

Comments

stagecoacher 3 years, 9 months ago

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. " - Benjamin Franklin.

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

A friend sent me a great suggestion the other day on how to deal with airport security. Instead of all the groping and radiation let's just send everyone through a sealed booth inside of which any and all explosives are detonated. No more terrorists, civil rights issues, long lines waiting to be searched.

"Attention security, clean-up in booth 9"

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mmjPatient22 3 years, 9 months ago

Sled-

Brilliant. I'm all for it. Write up some legislation and I'll vote for it.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

Even if we find the perfect solution the terrorists will follow the path of least resistance. This will be a never ending problem, draining our resources and treasure. Al Queda spends a buck and we spend a billion. we need to stop chasing this rabbit and make some big decisions, as well as living within our means. We will never reach the longevity of the Roman Empire if our political correct contingent has it's way. Sled, your solution happens to coincide with my ideas, but many take the bible literally when it says that the meek shall inherit the earth.

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housepoor 3 years, 9 months ago

"Al Queda spends a buck and we spend a billion. we need to stop chasing this rabbit and make some big decisions, as well as living within our means." Sounds like the war on drugs?

Sled no explosives in the 911 attack..

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

And while body searches may catch some issues, you'd have to be pretty ignorant to not know that people have been using body cavities to hide contraband. So if the idea is to stop terrorists by body searches at the airport then next is body cavity searches.

Which is why Israel which has been a prime target for decades does not primarily depend upon body searches, but upon quick interviews with travelers because a terrorist has a different perspective on things than normal people.

BTW, one of the rarely mentioned truly preventable parts of 9/11 was that a suicidal passenger killed the pilot and thus everyone else on the plane on a California commuter flight several years before 9/11. One of the changes that was supposed to have been implemented was better cockpit doors so that it couldn't happen again. Airlines fought it and FAA never required it.

Because one of the most basic concepts of security is layers so that someone breaking one layer only gets that layer, not the entire system. So 9/11 terrorists could could have gained control of the cabin, but that should never have been allowed to also mean they gained access to the cockpit.

(Or that US gov't allowed a soldier to gain access to all diplomatic cables. Second basic concept of security is monitoring behavior so that even if soldiers are allowed to search info related to their missions, then you also catch the ones looking at too many documents. Another basic concept is "honey pots" which are traps designed to look appealing to someone breaking the rules and anyone touching those are automatically investigated).

Have to say with both body searches and US secrets that it appears there is no one in government with a clue. Though, appears US secrets cannot be blamed on Bush or Obama because it was started a while ago no one in any administration would expect that it would be done with such a completely inept security system. The lack of at least one competent person seeing the mistakes and becoming a whistle blower is really distressing.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

HP, Are you in favor of legalizing drugs and terrorism? Can you imagine Reagan kissing up across the globe, and shrugging his shoulders? When Reagan was in office our adversaries slept with one eye open.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

Fred, I read housepoor's comment to suggest that ineffective and inefficient wars on both drugs and terrorism are not affordable.

All this money on scanners and body searches are obviously a waste because presumably whatever can be hidden in underwear could also be hidden in a body cavity. Right now terrorists don't have to blow up a plane, they just need to be caught at the airport trying to get though security. So what happens when a terrorist tries getting on a plane using a body cavity to smuggle something? The terrorist doesn't need to blow up the plane to cause a major reaction. Under current policy, result would be body cavity searches and that would be the end of flying for most.

Reagan understood government inefficiency and he did not promote it. He never would have approved the current airport security measures because his advisers would have seen how inefficient and pointless it was. He'd have probably accepted smart profiling of fliers that then led to possibly risky fliers being checked closer at the airport. Wouldn't be that hard to develop a flier database that is treated like the IRS taxpayer database in that there are laws preventing any other agency or people from looking at it.

It is really sad that Google, Yahoo, Amazon and so on are so good at developing customer profiles while the TSA knows nothing and is resorting to searching random passengers at the airport.

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Fred Duckels 3 years, 9 months ago

If we solve the airline problem, that will only direct the threat elsewhere. This is neverending. Khomeni notified Gorbachev after the Berlin Wall fell, that he would carry the mantle from that point. We need to start in Tehran, not chasing high schoolers, mostly put out there to keep us on edge and spending our treasure. Khadaffi started to get the message when Reagan bombed his residences, killing part of his family. We are in a big war, and need to stow the politicallly correct crap and defend ourselves. Time is not on our side. I'm covering all bets, with those who think things will get better.

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mtntrekker 3 years, 9 months ago

Everybody should be subject to the bodyscan or pat down (think of the movie Total Recall with Arnold S.) I would rather be subject to a full body scan or pat down than be dead from being blown up or crashed into a building. We live in a time of paranoia. We think there is a suicide bomber around every corner. Maybe this will be a boom time (no pun intended) for Amtrak and Greyhound.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 9 months ago

mtntrekker, So what about the terrorist threat from hidden explosives or weapons hidden in body cavities. Certainly if prisoners or smugglers can learn the technique then so can terrorists. You willing to have a body cavity search to get onto an airplane?

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ybul 3 years, 9 months ago

It is not just airport security at what cost.

It will now be Food safety at what cost as Ried and his bunch of merry men have passed 510 in a cloiture vote as the bill was stuck in committee as committee members could not agree on it.

Hey lets figure out how to stop the local food movement from happening by making small producers jump through so many steps they have to stop as the added labor and capital costs for the small producer are too much to comply with.

Take Raw milk, the intent of the law was to ensure safe milk. Yet today we can test every batch of milk for pathogens to ensure safety, but still this is frowned upon. With raids by the FDA and State health agencies shutting down food coops around the country for selling this contraband (which if sold you are treated worse than a pot dealer these days).

STOP THE MADNESS.... That is what the Tea Party is about. Both sides agree about the insanity that is going on to some degree. The Corporations control our country and that needs stopped today, by voting to restore the constitution!

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

One of the islamic terrosists stated goals was to simply cost us tons of time and money. They want to bankrupt us or help us bankrupt ourselves. Guess what... ITS WORKING.

The war on terror is working out about as well as the war on drugs... bleeding us dry, killing our freedoms and accomplishing little else.

Apparently Americans haven't the intestinal fortitude to kill anything but time and money. I am truly ashamed of my country.

Our great grandchildren will be old men before this war is over... unless the terrorists win sooner. Even if we win, which is unlikely, we will wind up without one single freedom to excercise and without two dimes to rub together.

"So it was freedom as defined by Orwell and Kafka; freedom as granted by Hitler and Stalin... the freedom to pace back and forth in your cage.

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blue_spruce 3 years, 9 months ago

Fred,

As a lead-in I want to mention that I do not oppose the use of force in dealing with enemies of the US. And I agree that Iran is a serious problem. But do you seriously think that bombing Iran will solve anything? What about Pakistan, Syria, N. Korea, and on and on....

And think about how much damage we can reasonably do with conventional weapons – NOT enough to do the job as necessary. If we take the bombing route, only nukes could be expected to eliminate the threat. When you hit an enemy it is usually wise to make sure he STAYS DOWN. Especially when these people have limited access to their own primitive nukes. Just load one onto a cargo container bound for Los Angeles, for instance...

Reagan would have appreciated this. As much as we sometimes like to think so, we can't fight that many countries at once. And let's just forget about Europe or any other country helping us out. We have seen how that goes. We do not have the $$ or boots on the ground necessary to take this on. And conventional bombing will not get rid of the threat, only make the likelihood that a state actor like Pakistan would give a nuke to an al qaeda nut case more likely. Diplomacy needs to be part of the equation. As distasteful as this can be when dealing with folks from the middle east – again, Reagan would have appreciated this necessity. Its the “carrot and the stick” not just “the stick”.

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blue_spruce 3 years, 9 months ago

sled,

okay, good points. now, what exactly do you propose we do from here on?

what is your game-plan?

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blue_spruce 3 years, 9 months ago

ybul,

yeah, lets take away all the laws pertaining to food safety!! that sounds like a great freaking idea!! corporate america would LOVE that. if a few thousand people a year get sick and die due to large food companies cutting corners and making an extra buck, who cares, right?

while we are at it let's get rid of all the environmental protection in this country. I'd like to see a host of oil wells and perhaps an oil refinery right here in routt county!! and those "crazy" laws about industrial waste and dumping - those crazy liberals! just ruining our country, i tell ya!

oh yeah, DRILL BABY DRILL!!

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ybul 3 years, 9 months ago

What if the end result of the law can be ensured by another route? Shoot the USDA makes it illegal for a company to test their product for mad cow disease. Yep that is ensuring food safety. The problem is that the big beef processors can't test every animal where smaller companies could. This would give them an unfair advantage. So it can not be allowed.

Pasturization of milk is done to ensure that bad bacteria are not present in the milk. However, if one simply tested the milk for pathogens, which can be done efficiently today (where as when the law was established it could not) then why not allow that to happen. This is because the capital costs to pasturize makes it so that only the large producers can compete.

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Kristopher Hammond 3 years, 9 months ago

There won't be another 9/11-style airplane incident. The passengers know too much and simply won't allow it. Hell, they prevented the 4th one on the same day. Besides, blowing up a single plane is not Al Queda's style (9/11, London, etc.). Smuggling a bomb onto an airplane is a very high-risk/low reward prospect. The risk of getting caught is very high, and the maximum damage is limited to the airplane's capacity. A single bomber could avoid all detection and do much more damage at a high school basketball game/concert/etc. The whole TSA thing is just a show to make us feel like the government is doing something to protect us (from the terrorists who didn't have any explosives). There is no way we can live in a free, open society AND be secure from such risks. I'll take freedom.

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seeuski 3 years, 9 months ago

This is the prelude to the Unionization of the TSA by our POTUS in order to protect them from the angry American public. In the meantime kid, lift up that shirt, and Mam, yes you with the breast reconstruction due to cancer, take them out. We are losing to the terrorists because of lousy politics here.

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1999 3 years, 9 months ago

oh good god see... you are truly delusional.

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

blue-spruce, sorry but I've been busy. What do we do?

Sometimes there is no putting Humpty-Dumpty back together... even with "all the kings" resources.

Americans are weak. They are scared little sheep that need a shepard. They need social security because they fail to save for their own future. They need 99 weeks of unemployment cause they are too lazy to get a job or too proud to steal one back from Pedro. Read Walter Williams

They are also ignorant. They are economically illeterate. Read Thomas Sowell

Worst of all, Americans are thieves. They empower a government to do for them what the law will not allow them to do for themselves... plunder their fellow man. "The state is that great fiction whereby everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else". Fredrich Bastiat Read "The Law" by Bastiat

I said all that to say this... I do not believe it CAN be fixed. We are, as a nation, like a man who has jumped from a tall building. As we hurdle toward the concrete we can yell in to the people in the building on each passing floor "I'm o.k." but our fate is sealed.

"If America expects to be ignorant AND free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be". T Jefferson

Our ignorance, apathy, dishonesty, laziness and selfishness have cost us not only our freedoms but that of our posterity. This is the most staggering thought I do not believe many people are concerned with... How many hundreds of million, billions perhaps of Americans will never taste freedom because we ruined it?

Michael Scheuer wrote a pretty good book called "Imperial Hubris" that explains in great detail why we are losing the war on terror. He has another book comming out soon that will likely be one of the best books ever written about Osama bin Laden. I am no fan of his anti-israel positions but agree with him on the rest. Read it.

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1999 3 years, 9 months ago

Our ignorance, apathy, dishonesty, laziness and selfishness have cost us not only our freedoms but that of our posterity.

yes... but before Seeuski gets here... I want to say...it's all people, all political sides, all genders, cultures etc etc etc.

It's telling to me when the american people are calling for wikileaks heads to roll....... we should be thanking them and demanding more.

instead we join what our gov tell us and declare his outings (get this... it is an emotional bomb.)..... "putting soldiers lives at risk"

The only people who are getting put at risk are the liars we have serving in our gov and our corporations.

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

1999, Exactly. Making wiki more of a criminal than the criminals they exposed is telling to me too.

Look at the mafia you people have put in charge of your country. Dealing in back rooms around the globe. Playing god with no authorization whatsoever from the American people; to say nothing of the Constitution, which apparently "ain't worth moose-tits" to these scumbags.

Wiki is a mirror. If you don't like what you see shoot your government, not wiki.

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1999 3 years, 9 months ago

sadly...wikileaks will probably get shut down.

the tactics our gov uses to prevent people from seeing or hearing the truth is enough proof to me.

Our gov has us by the balls until WE do something about it. Dems or Repubs...they are all doing backdoor business that is detrimental to the people.

we've lost our collective minds.

MORE POWER TO WIKILEAKS!!!!

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1999 3 years, 9 months ago

oh and sled....our gov does have authorization from the people.

we gave it to them and we're too stupid and lazy to take it back.

we're happy to be cattle and allow our gov to send our children to senseless wars ("oh but they called my dead son a hero so it's all right"), spend with no regard to the future, lie cheat and steal.

all right under our noses will we look on and say "mmmmmmmm that doesn't seem right..but what can I do?"

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

Never once did I consent to this kind of stuff. They didn't get the authorization from me.

I get your point though.

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Jeff_Kibler 3 years, 9 months ago

exduffer, here's a link to the article I believe the Denver Post opinion piece cited:

http://www.5280.com/magazine/2010/12/long-arm-of-the-law

If you read the 5280.com article, it's not just SB that's claiming the "family friendly" moniker.

Regardless, I do not approve of searches based solely on presumption.

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sledneck 3 years, 9 months ago

We are reaching that Orwellian point at which "that which is not forbidden is cumpulsory".

A list of things you must do. A list of things you must not.

Not one damn freedom anywhere in between.

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