The average American is more likely to die in his bathtub than be killed by an Islamic terrorist. That is but one of many fascinating statistics presented by Charles Kenny (no relations to this writer) in his article on Businessweek.com, "Airport Security Is Making Americans Less Safe." And if that little datum makes you feel a little less secure about your next bath or shower, consider the bright side. At least there are no Transportation Security Administration agents between you and your bathtub.
The TSA, an agency that ranks in popularity somewhere between the Internal Revenue Service and your state Department of Motor Vehicles, gets no mercy from Kenny, who chronicles its foibles and absurdities in embarrassing detail. Yes, TSA officials did confiscate 1,200 firearms last year, Kenny concedes. And it did discover one batch of C4 explosives, though only on the return flight. But the agency's list of "Top Good Catches of 2011" does not mention its capture of the GI Joe actions doll's 4-inch plastic rifle or all the "face cream, breast milk and live fish that vigilant screeners collected in airport security lines last year," notes Kenny, adding that in all of last year, "the TSA didn't spot a single terrorist trying to board an airline in the U.S."
Chances are you haven't spotted any terrorists around your bathtub either, which would enable TSA officials, were they in charge of bathtub security, to say, "See what a good job we're doing!"
No one denies the need for security at airports. But the Transportation Security Agency, created by Congress after the terrorist skyjackings of 9/11, has grown into an $8 billion a year monster, whose 50,000 employees have given passengers at nearly every American airport reason to recall anew Thomas Jefferson's complaint, enshrined in Declaration of Independence, that a distant authority has "sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance." The harassment has been well documented in reports of excessively groping "pat downs" in search of contraband or the indignity of being required to stand spread-eagled, hands on head, while an agent armed with a body scanner electronically undresses a passenger to discover what might be hidden under a traveler's clothing.
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