Thursday, November 18, 2010
A Modest Proposal for the TSA: Hire the World's Best in Security
Robin and colleague George Kalogridis survey the old city of Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives in Israel. Later that week, when I was departing, an El Al lady in a gray blazer gave me the third degree at Ben Gurion Airport. I had been warned about this, so I kept my cool and by the time I got into the security line, she knew I was a Disney employee and more likely to waste my money on the duty free cart en route than cause them any trouble.
The fat people in those ill-fitting uniforms who comprise the Transportation Security Administration in the United States always frisk me when I fly. I have metal in both my hips and even though I've never been arrested (at least not that I recall), was raised as a Lutheran, belonged to the Girl Scouts, voted for Ronald Reagan (twice) and have two secular degrees from California universities, I am nevertheless taken aside and patted down each time I fly. I haven't said anything about this, because I have been willing to make this minor sacrifice so as to play my part in the War on Terror.
My parents, after all, faced butter, sugar, and meat rationing at home, and my father endured enemy bullets during the last great war. People took their dates on the bus or a streetcar because gas was rationed, as well. I figure the least I can do is endure a pat down when I fly.
But with the latest fuss from a young man who preferred not to have strangers probing his "junk" I have to say this--I know there is a better way to accomplish what we are all striving for: the security of our passengers in the air.
I mean, frisking me is a total waste of time, just as is frisking my sister and my nieces (one of whom has served in both the Peace Corps and as a Naval officer in Afghanistan) and my nephew (who is an Iraqi war veteran). How do I know this? Ask the Israelis.
When you fly into, or out of Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, people who appear to be total strangers ask you odd questions. The car you leave in or arrive in has its license plate photographed. And if you are departing, before you ever reach the security line, a person in a gray blazer has chatted you up, hassled you about your trip, asked to see any gifts you are taking home, asks if you speak Hebrew, asks why a Christian would be there during, say Easter, and has watched for any beads of sweat appearing on your brow.
I had nothing to hide after my visit to Israel. Just a bunch of junk I purchased there to take home to my family!
They don't mess around with frisking silly grandmothers. They know who you are, before you even reach the frisking stage.
I think an excellent way to secure our flights in the United States would be to contract with an Israeli company to handle it. Send all those nice, overweight people who work for the TSA back to their security jobs at K-Mart and bring in the pros. The Israelis are one of the largest recipients of US foreign aid, and the business people in that tiny entrepreneurial country love a good contract. We have leverage here. We could pull this off.
The miscreants who changed our lives by hijacking those planes on 9/11 would not have been able to board El Al jets. And not because they were Arabs, though that might have caused them to receive extra scrutiny, as it should. They wouldn't have been able to board their jets that day because they were taking one-way flights, from airports not anywhere near the places in which they lived. Their passports and visas would have been checked. The box cutters would have been found in their carry on bags.
Let's face it people. The Israelis profile. And it saves them the time we are wasting checking the under wire on the bras of little old lady Episcopalians.
Let's get some pros into this business and show the world we're serious. If we did that we would have a better chance of preventing the next atrocity, and everybody else flying would be safer and would not have to be strip-searched.
We're handing billions of dollars over to the oil-rich Arab countries who hate us, just so we can drive 3/4 of a mile in our SUVs to buy balloons for our birthday parties. Why not toss a few more billion to the Israelis and actually get something useful for our money, from, by the way, the only democracy in the Middle East?
Perhaps the man who said, "Don't touch my junk" was really on to something.