The Transportation Security Administration has recently expanded what it calls “expedited security screening”, or more commonly known as TSA Pre-Check, to military service members at more than 100 airports across the United States. These so-called expedited screenings with allow military personnel to keep their footwear on as well as light outerwear while proceeding through security. Additionally, they can keep their laptop in its case, and keep their compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on item at select screening lanes.
These benefits also extend to those who serve in the Reserves and National Guard (sometimes affectionately known as the “weekend warriors”) and they even encompass personal travel (i.e. out of uniform), if the service member enters their Department of Defense number correctly when making online reservations. To put things in perspective, in order to receive the benefits of TSA Pre-Check, all human beings not related to the military and over the age of 12 must apply for a DHS “Trusted Traveler” program in order to be considered for Pre-Check eligibility. Why? Because obviously the military can be trusted and those of us who work in more pacifist professions just can’t I suppose!
TSA Deputy Administrator John W. Halinski, who is himself a 25-year Marine Corps veteran, made a statement that “TSA is grateful to the brave men and women in uniform who continue to serve our nation with honor and distinction. Providing TSA Pre✓™ expedited screening while on travel is the least we can do for the members of our military.”
I hate to break it to Mr. Halinski, but offering our troops an expedited security screening is not one of the least things we can do. It is downright foolish to assume that military service members are somehow an automatic “trusted traveler” as a result of their endeavors, and deserve to have the privilege of a somewhat more relaxed screening procedure to the detriment of the general population.
First let’s state the obvious. Along with certain law enforcement professions, military personnel represent a minute portion of society who are given extensive and varied weapons training as a necessary component of plying their trade. This also tends to include at least rudimentary training in unarmed combat, disarmament techniques, and for some military specialties, how to assemble and detonate fixed or improvised explosives.
Your average U.S. citizen does not know anything about those preceding skills, and all of them make someone a far more viable threat for bringing considerable harm or destruction aboard a commercial airplane, just as much as they may be theoretically designed to protect people or keep the peace. However, for those of us who don’t work in the “fighting for freedom” business halfway across the planet (so we can safely enjoy the NFL game and whatnot), we must kiss the ring and continue to remove our shoes, laptops, and various other items.
Furthermore, this partnership between the Department of Defense and TSA has clearly not learned anything from history, and did not take into consideration the potential for blowback coming from a small group of servicemen or even a lone wolf. After all, the “friendly flyer” privilege even extends to soldiers who are off-duty, and potentially flying without their peers or family members. A perfect example of how this relaxed screening procedure for troops theoretically makes no sense, and could practically blow up in the TSA’s face (pun intended), would be a man by the name of Timothy McVeigh.
Timothy McVeigh was an American terrorist and Gulf War veteran who detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19th, 1995. Killing 168 people and injuring more than 600 others, it remains significant as the most deadly act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, and second only to the September 11 attacks in outright carnage. The latter of course, is the event we all know which triggered the formation of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) in the first place.
While the actions of Mr. McVeigh (who was executed in 2001) were absolutely inexcusable, it is important to take into consideration that cruel and unjust actions of the U.S. government, in addition to his involvement in the military in the early 1990s, understandably made him bitter and resentful.
During his tenure in the Gulf War, he said he was shocked to be ordered to execute surrendering prisoners and to witness the devastating carnage along the infamous “Highway of Death“, all while leaving Kuwait City after U.S. troops routed the Iraqi army in February of 1991. Along with several other incidents, the federal mishandling of the Waco Siege in 1993 was the final straw for the young man, who was convinced that the U.S. government was the ultimate bully and a tyrant which must be punished for its actions.
So fast forward to the 21st century and here’s the scenario we have:
- Former Army Veteran remains responsible for most deadly act of domestic terrorism in United States history (1995).
- TSA is created in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks to supposedly prevent further terrorist hijacking of our aviation transportation infrastructure (2001).
- TSA doesn’t catch any terrorists (2001- ).
- TSA looks for a cash-cow by introducing more relaxed “expedited security screening” for people willing to undergo a background check and pay a fee (2011).
- Military service members get automatic placement on expedited security screening as gratitude for their service (2013).
Do you see what’s wrong with this picture? This boneheaded mentality not only proves that many aspects of TSA screening protocol are just security theater, but this is a perfect example of government mafia police-state cronyism. The servants of the state and our destructive foreign policy shall be granted special privileges, while the civilian sheeple must endure the extra intrusion that only the almighty dollar (and obviously an NSA background check) can remedy.
TSA acts like the ‘Expedited Security Screening’ is such an incredible privilege and a testament to our supposedly wonderful freedoms as citizens of the United States. Meanwhile, every other civil society on Earth does not stipulate that passengers must undergo the ludicrous screening protocol of removing your footwear and exposing your laptop. Yet somehow, miraculously, they manage to keep all of their planes in the sky.
Even in Israel’s Ben Gurion airport, known for having perhaps the most stringent airport security in the world, you can keep your shoes on during your screening thanks to a device they employ called “Magshoe“. The TSA obviously doesn’t think implementing Magshoe is a good idea for now. They would much rather keep the dog-and-pony show of security theater going for quite some time to come.
So in the meantime, just shut up, let the warriors through, keep putting your shoes, laptops, liquids, and gels in the plastic tray (“freedom tray”) like the untrustworthy and meddlesome peon you are, and remind yourself that you live in the greatest country on Earth bar none. Whatever liberties you “think” the Europeans, Canadians, Brazilians, Uruguayans, Chileans, Australians, and New Zealanders might have, you will always have just a little bit more.
- TSA accessing government and private databases for total pre-screening
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- “Twinkies for Troops” Passes For News At The Pentagon Channel
Digby Jones is a frequent contributor to Ingenious Press, an independent news blog covering a wide range of topics but closely supportive of many Libertarian and Free Market principles. Follow us on our Facebook and Twitter pages.