To Let the Government Touch, or Not to Let the Government Touch

Where she went to kindergarten? That's pretty invasive, actually, but only in a mental and personal-biography sense. It could be mildly embarrassing if you went to some school that you didn't want to admit to in public, I suppose, so Aggies may not like it. The likelihood of the questioning agent actually remembering all of those details you're forced to give them is pretty low. They're smart, trained agents, but they interview hundreds if not thousands of travelers per day. And they're not really looking for the information anyway; they're gauging your reaction to the questions, and evaluating that for possible further inquiry.

On the other hand, the likelihood of TSA's picture machines saving your naked pic for further, ahem, study is higher than we were told when they and their lobbyists sold these things to the public.

Terrorists are smart, or at least the terror masters who send out the stupid bombers are smart. They study our security methods. They adapt based on their successes and failures. They mix it up.  One day it's box cutters, the next it's a shoe bomb, the one after that it's the panty bomber. You can see where this is going, and the next search mechanism that takes that next move entirely into account is going to give us all a national colonoscopy. Literally. But hey, TSA is only here to help.

So far, our federal betters' approach has been to adapt to what the terrorists have already done, not what they're about to do or thinking of doing. The Israeli system seems to take this tactical reality into account. Instead of focusing on what terrorists have already done and using that to inconvenience and irritate the innocent flying public, the Israelis focus on behavior. What they're doing, as Michael Totten notes, is profiling. It's just not ethnic profiling.

That makes sense too, once you give it a few minutes' thought. Arabs comprise about 9% of the Israeli population. Sure, Israel could try to profile that and just keep that 9% off their airplanes. Among other bad outcomes, that's likely to radicalize enough Arabs who wouldn't otherwise go Arafat that it might create more day-to-day security problems than it would be worth. And besides that, profiling against such a broad swath of its population just runs against the grain of what most would consider right or fair, or even justified. And going purely on ethnicity probably wouldn't catch the Jose Padillas and Richard Reids of the world anyway, so the terrorists would just recruit more of them.

The question is, is Israelification of our airports even possible for us?  A year's worth of travel in and out of Ben Gurion probably adds up to half a week of total U.S. annual air travel. We're a lot bigger and we have a lot more airports, with a lot more international connections. It seems to me that Israelification is scalable to the U.S. system. It would require a lot of training and adaptation, but we should be training our security folks to think and act smarter anyway. Aside from keeping us safer, having them become smarter just might keep them from unionizing. Which they were never supposed to be able to do anyway, but may now, thanks to this lawless administration and its tendency to get by with giving more than a little help to its union friends.

Even though the Israeli method can be a bit of a brain invasion, put me down as favoring that over the TSA strip n grope routine. Getting past the frisking of nuns and kids and the unwelcome touching of junk, the Israeli system is one thing that ours definitely isn't: it's smart.