We can have plenty of debates in the comments, and often do, about the effectiveness of what’s often referred to as security theatre.
My own view is that the “tradeoff between liberty and security” is, in this context, a canard — because the TSA contributes little that’s meaningful to security. They focus on silly things which distract resources from real threats. And real security comes not from that agency but from reinforced cockpit doors, and from passengers unwilling to stand by anymore in the face of an inflight threat. And because hijacking a plane is actually hard and there aren’t that many people who actually want to go on suicide missions.
In that context, the liberties given up aren’t weighed against “making us safer” they’re weighed against almost nothing.
For those who would argue, though, that the intrusions are minimal I’d counter with what’s truly an agency run amok in the case of the Oregon man who stripped naked at the checkpoint.
Maybe it was juvenile, maybe it was silly, and I doubt it did much to bring attention to the abuses of the TSA as much as it brought attention to the guy who stripped naked.
But he was arrested and charged, and sent to trial. And John E. Brennan actions were found to be a form of protest, an exercise of his first amendment rights.
Though the courts threw out the charges, the TSA has decided to fine him themselves.
Agency fines and charges place citizens into a system that is heavily weighted in favor of the agency and denies basic due process protections found in courts. After the judge threw out the charge against Brennan, 50, the TSA got one of its administrative judges to fine him $1,000 for violating a federal rule stating passengers may not “interfere with, assault, threaten, or intimidate” TSA screeners. You may ask how stripping is an act of interference or assault or threat or intimidation. It does not matter. Once in the administrative process, the agency gets a huge degree of deference in determining violations with judges who are dependent on the agency for the very jurisdiction of their “court.”
A court already found there was no criminal activity. But that court has no jurisdiction over the TSA’s decision after the court ruled.