Airport Safety: Can We Be Too Safe?
November 23, 2010
(ChattahBox Op/Ed) – The Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) has a challenge on their hands because the message is clear but the path to the answer is not so much. At issue are the new methods of making sure as much as possible that people who board planes are not a danger to their fellow passengers. We can all agree that that goal is necessary and critical. Up to this point, and for anyone that travels in the post 9/11 world surely knows the reality of boarding a plane, but we also know that in spite of the efforts and procedures put in place, it wasn’t enough. So now what?
Well, if you’re paying attention we know that there are two procedures that have people in an uproar. The first one is the new x-ray body scanners that leave little to the imagination for those who are viewing the images. Many people feel that this procedure is extremely invasive, to say the least. I have seen some of these images and it is clear both in the literal and figurative that passenger worries are justified. And now, as we head into the busiest air traveling season of the year a more through and invasive body search or “pat down” are now in effect.
The entire situation is quite a dilemma.
There is nothing wrong with the safety message; in fact the message is not broken in any way. We understand the nature of why we are at where we are at with respect to airline safety and we have all along understood and complied with the changes and demands that are made on us as we travel. At first it was a simple learning curve and we adjusted nicely. Then is became somewhat of a further inconvenience. No lighters, small bottles, etc. And now we have escalated to the issues at hand today and the question now is has the TSA, or more importantly the Department of Homeland Security gone too far, or is there such a thing as going too far as it relates to our safety and national security?
Now, this isn’t exactly Sophie’s Choice, but it is what is dominating the headlines right now and should it be or are travelers making much ado about nothing? We are talking about safety after all and is there any price that is too high to pay for that safety?
Let me remind you that the TSA is not the policy making authority they just carry out what they are told. They are on the front lines and the public outcry to change new policy is being taken out on them, unfairly in my opinion. I don’t believe that any TSA employee is enjoying their jobs too much these days, do you?
Whether you travel by air or not, you can see how this decision has become a media nightmare for the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security. They are not hiding from it; in fact they are meeting the challenge head on with honesty and fairness. They are charged with keeping us safe, and if they fail we lose on so many levels, don’t we? So what is the solution?
The dilemma is not solvable in a way that will satisfy everyone, what solution ever is? But is this invasive and offensive, and embarrassing solution the safest solution? Do you want your grandmother being manipulated this way at the airport, or yourself for that matter? You see how hard this gets?
It is important to note that not everyone is chosen for the invasive pat down and not every airport has the x-ray scanners that are all too real, but the time is coming where they will all have them. And so the question again is how safe is safe enough? As unpalatable as the new policies are and as controversial as they have become, we ask much of our government and all it takes is one more terrorist death before we scream we didn’t do enough, and maybe that’s the real point here. Can we ever really do enough? No we can’t. There will never be a fool proof way to assure with 100% clarity and assuredness that every single passenger on a plane is completely clear of any contraband to be used at their discretion for destruction, short of the unthinkable, a complete and total strip search, and that can’t happen.
I applaud the TSA for making themselves available to the media and for continuing to explain and to listen. This is a situation that could be a whole lot worse than it is from a Public Relations standpoint, but the solution or compromise may never come, and that’s a truth we all may just have to live with, like it or not.
If you’re wondering where I stand on this issue, so am I, and not being one prone to ambivalence in any way, I want to be safe as much as the next person, and as much as I normally don’t like being groped by complete strangers is it too much to ask for not only peace of mind but actual security? Time will tell.
Tony Trupiano is a former national syndicated progressive radio talk show host, author, and a former candidate for Congress. He is also a nationally recognized media trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and can read his Blog at www.mediatraining.me.