Advancing a Free Society

Thoughts on the TSA Controversy

Monday, November 22, 2010

I assume that TSA’s intrusive patdowns are not cost-effective, that some TSA employees will abuse the new body scanners, and that the TSA on the whole focuses too much on “security theater” and not enough on targeted interrogation.  But I also think some of the many harsh criticisms of TSA go too far and locate some of the responsibility for the situation in the wrong place.  The American people, and politicians of both parties, have made clear that they have zero tolerance for attacks in the homeland, and that any agency or official deemed responsible for an attack (or near attack) from the perfect perspective of hindsight will be severely punished, no matter how improbable the attack or how hard it was to identify ex ante.  TSA and other security officials get this message clearly and react accordingly with risk-averse policies.  (The new measures are a direct response to the outrage over the fact that the Christmas Day bomber smuggled explosives on board in his underwear.)

Continue reading Jack Goldsmith at Lawfare

(photo credit: Paul Johnson)