US Government Downgrades Threat of Terrorism

A deer is more likely to kill you than a terrorist. You’re more likely to die in a bathtub. The TSA has likely killed more people than terrorists have by causing people to drive instead of fly.

If there were active terrorist plots to take down airplanes in the U.S. the TSA wouldn’t do much to stop it since they have consistently failed to catch 90% – 96% of banned items going through checkpoints in tests over the last decade.

We’re lighting billions of dollars on fire and turning power over our lies to a lawless agency that does virtually nothing to protect us. The TSA itself admitted this in court filings. They specifically acknowledged that they have known of no plots in the U.S. to take down airplanes (and likely no attempts whatsoever), and that hardened cockpit doors and willingness of passengers to take down would-be terrorists are the measures that make flying safer.

Now the Department of Defense has downgraded the threat of terrorism in its strategies. The US government now believes there is a greater threat from China and Russia than from global terrorism.

The Pentagon’s newly released National Defense Strategy says China and Russia pose more of a threat to the U.S. than terrorism because they jeopardize U.S. military prowess on a global scale

Let that sink in the next time you get an ‘enhanced’ pat down.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I know you dislike the TSA (I do too, but my dislike is way dialed down from yours), but your argument isn’t very logical here. The DOD assessment is about the risk to the future of the USA — like to our complete way of life. Only an unthinking Administration (I won’t name names) would think terrorism right now is more dangerous to US interests than Russia and China (which I personally don’t think present an imminent danger either, but that’s another story). We all know a terrorist attack on an airplane is more probable than a Russian nuclear warhead falling on NYC, but we also know that Mohammed’s aircraft IED isn’t going to destroy our way of life, while that warhead could.

    This assessment doesn’t mean we should abolish the TSA. There is still a significant risk of airplane terrorism in the USA. And just the existence of the TSA reduces that risk (most terrorists are about as clever as most bank robbers — not that clever). I do agree with you that more “perspective” and common sense should be deployed on TSA lines. And, over time, I think that has been the case. There’s still more rationalization needed and a lot of what the TSA does is, IMO, stupid. But that doesn’t mean the TSA is worthless. MOST government agencies have vast room for improvement. That’s kind of the nature of government: it’s rarely hyper-efficient.

  2. +1 for every point iahphx made.

    I’d add to that last, very correct point, about government being rarely hyper-efficient, that large corporate bureaucracies of any kind are also rarely hyper-efficient, with a few rare exceptions such as (at least in my experience) Amazon. And in my field, international development, we increasingly have the worst of both worlds: large government bureaucracies turning over the thinking and work to large consulting firms’ bureaucracies, at the cost of cost-efficiency, learning and impact.

    Gary, I welcome your critiques of the TSA, even when I don’t wholly agree with them. But in the future when you take on the TSA, I’d also welcome some detailed suggestions (at least within the bounds of what you can post through your blog or through links you could provide) on what you’re suggesting as alternatives.

  3. The TSA is consistently good at confiscating my husband’s mini swiss army knife that he carries on his keychain. One of these days he’ll learn; in the meantime Amazon gets that $12.99 sell on a fairly regular basis!

  4. Here’s all the “detailed suggestion” needed: abolish the TSA, let the airlines be responsible for their own damn planes, and let them come up with solutions that actually work. A free market (if only!) can always solve the needs of customers better, more efficiently, and more morally than a tax-funded group of bureaucrats.

    Lets assume you do this in a vacuum – remove the TSA and replace it with nothing – go back to 2001 style security. More people fly, fewer drive, lives are saved. But nothing happens in a vacuum. In real life, there’s always an opportunity cost. The vast sums of dollars wasted on a harmful agency could better be used elsewhere. And, when not in a vacuum, other pressures fill vacated space. We don’t have to come up with the solutions – that’s what the profit motive is for.

    How is this difficult to understand? Seems people have to be willfully blind sometimes.

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