Wise allocation of time and resources?

The last strictly domestic flight I had, I watched as a female TSA supervisor sidled over to a make officer and say something quietly. He looked at me and then slightly shook his head, as if to shake off what she said.   She had a different idea.   And thus began an absurd few minutes during which they went took nearly everything out of my carry on and put it through the scanner three times.  I had the distinction of being stared at not only by all the passengers, the suspicious middle-aged priest, but also by the less than subtly hostile TSA glittering-eyed agent who did this.   Nice.

Once I had everything back in my bag, I thanked her for “singling me out” and used the name on her exposed id tag.  That got a pair of momentarily raised eyebrows with the accompanying wider eyes – followed by the shrug.  And not a word.

I hope these agents realize that people are beginning to voice concerns.

I any event… you have by now seen this photo.

I wonder if they think every day that they go to work that perhaps today is the day they will wind up on the news channels because of something they did.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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56 Responses to Wise allocation of time and resources?

  1. jflare says:

    Hate to say it Fr Z, but…we have rather limited choices.
    1. We can profile appropriately for the most likely folks who’d inflict a terror attack.
    Unfortunately, not likely to happen. Congress, at the insistence of various “civil rights” advocates killed this possibility back in 2001. Usual drivel about “racial profiling”, “racism”, “targeting people”, etc were brought up.
    2. We can assume everyone has perfect intentions and go back to using metal detectors exclusively.
    Not precisely a good idea either. More “practical” (if you can call a 20-minute inspection line practical), but not likely to catch an underwear bomber.
    Yes, we’ve caught one of those within the past two years.
    3. We can drop airline security altogether.
    Great idea, until we lose an airliner full of people (potentially between 15 and 200 people dead) from being knocked out of the sky by some kind of bomb that disables aircraft controls.
    4. We can quit using airlines, take trains, ships, and autos instead.
    Not bad, expect it’ll kill many thousands of jobs, slow transportation for everything immensely, and expand traffic congestion problems exponentially.
    5. We can learn to fly private aircraft.
    I like this one, but it’s ghastly expensive.
    6. We can suffer some annoyance, time lost for security, and indignity, and live to see another day.

    I personally would prefer options 1, 5, or 6, but that’s just me.

    Anybody have a better answer?

  2. Eric says:

    According to a priest friend of mine, If TSA asks you what you have in your carry on, don’t tell them “a missal.”

  3. Joshua08 says:

    Yes, so let us give in to the terrorists. If they want to kill a bunch of people, there are better options than hijacking a plane. By doing invasive and utterly and completely reactionary security at airports we have surrendered. We have said you won. If the goal was to kill, then they could just as well set off a bomb in the security line, or in a crowded mall. What then body scanners on every street?

    Heck, this does not find anything in body cavities…so as soon as we have a rectum bomber then we all must have body cavity searches? Remember the so called underwear bomber was not caught because of any such measures

    If they were actually concerned with security, they would ban carryons and just have bomb sniffing dogs which you file by, with metal detectors.

    This is all theatre and nothing more. It is not about security per se. It is about violation of human dignity, it is about more aggressiveness and suspicion than is brought to bear on someone arrested

  4. jflare says:

    LOL Eric! I don’t think they’d comprehend that one without LOTS of explanation!

    BTW, I can hear someone questioning whether flights really are that risky, so I’ll try to answer now. I don’t know the stats for car accidents per day here in the ‘States, but I’m pretty sure flying is still safer than driving on a per capita basis.
    Even so, it took only 4 planes about on 11 Sept 2001 to kill just over 3,000 people. And let’s face it, we were lucky they didn’t hit at mid-day, when we could’ve had some 20,000 people in the World Trade Center. Assuming an average of 30,000 commercial flights per day, that’s about 0.01% of all flights on that one day to inflict twice the bloodshed that we suffered at Pearl Harbor.

    Suffice to say, an airplane used “creatively” is a VERY effective weapon.
    I don’t care much for security either, but we’re a little less vulnerable this way.

  5. EXCHIEF says:

    Unless and until we secure our borders to keep out potential terrorists from Yemen and other countries which regularly send operatives into the USA through our unsecured borders airport security is little more than fluff. The enemy wants us to focus our attention on that very limited theatre of operations and that is why they occasionally undertake such things as shipping ink cartridge bombs. The real terrorist efforts are much larger scale than that and do involve trained terrorists crossing our borders on a somewhat regular basis judging by those caught—which is likely a small percentage of the total. DHS doesn’t talk about them.

    The “new” full body scan devices take longer than the former method, are intrusive, and may well pose a health riskfor some people due to radiation. TSA and DHS, headed by an incompetent, are mostly a joke to those of us who have spent careers in law enforcement or national security work.

  6. jflare says:

    I don’t agree Joshua08. We, as a nation, had partly surrendered to political terror well before 9/11. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have heard the incessant rage about racial profiling.

    If you’d prefer bomb-sniffing dogs, can you direct TSA to hounds that can find every scrap of plastic explosive? Or every person who can create an IED? I wish you luck. Our armed forces have been struggling with those for several years in the mid-East.
    Granted, we could do security like El Al, interrogating people intensely, but that’d be no less expensive, invasive, and insulting.

    Be advised, even if we don’t lose a whole plane-load, having a bomb go off on your ride can very quickly ruin your day. Hospital ERs aren’t that much more fun than death at times.

  7. Miriam says:

    “Granted, we could do security like El Al, interrogating people intensely, but that’d be no less expensive, invasive, and insulting.”

    I don’t believe that El Al interrogates everybody. They look for certain behaviors and interrogate those that fit.

    They also start the process when you first arrive at the airport. Since Israel is a primary terrorist target they seem to have gotten this right since they haven’t had any issues on their planes.

    The terrorists who have been caught have all been caught accidentally or in flight and have been put down by passengers, none have been caught through our airport security.

  8. I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about TSA lately… I’m going through airport security 5 times in the next two weeks and sincerely hope that everything goes uneventfully.

  9. priests wife says:

    Eric- haha

    My husband always travels in a clergy shirt- mostly because those are the clothes he has- usually he is red-flagged….bother

  10. Dean says:

    This put me in mind of an incident in which I was involved a few years ago. About to board a ferry boat, I was informed that nothing “inflammable ” could be taken aboard, including a cardboard box containing some clothing and a loaf of bread. I wonder whether I’d have had a problem if I’d been traveling as an air charter group did a few years ago; they were nudists en route to somewhere in the Caribbean, and probably were hiding nothing.

  11. Microtouch says:

    That was the picture I referred to in your “contact Fr.Z.” Until we can neutralize the PC crowd this is the sort of stupidity we will be up against.

  12. DetJohn says:

    Did anyone notice that the TSA female Officer is wearing a hijab.

  13. spschultz says:

    To those willing to endure ANY indignity in the name of “security,” I offer you the wise words of Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    I note as well that one should follow the money trail on the body scanners. You might be surprised with what you uncover (no pun intended). I’m sure it’s complete coincidence how a former HSA secretary, a client of his security consulting firm who makes the machines, the former secretary’s lobbying for requiring the machines and “stimulus” money being used to by the machines all appear intimately related.

    Despite the “underwear bomber” being touted by the TSA as the reason we all endure such indignities, the manufacture of the machines has admitted they would not have detected the explosive device. But at least they’re making us more “secure” from these types of attacks in the future.

    Can anyone think of a nation whose airlines terrorists would love to blow up even more than the United States? Israel, perhaps? Interesting how none of their aircraft are dropping out of the skies as the result of terrorist attacks, nor are they continually catching terrorists who evaded security and boarded with explosive devices. While I admit not having slept at a Holiday Inn last night, even my small caveman brain tells me, El Al might have it figured out when it comes to airline security — a security process which does NOT include indignant body scanners nor sexual assaults labeled as “pat-downs.”

    Rather odd, I think, how we ignore what works in favor of what does NOT work — and just like mindless lemmings, the majority of people do whatever is asked without any critical thinking what-so-ever since, after all, it’s for “security.”

    Let’s think about that security for just a second:

    1) Your odds of dying are vastly higher during your automobile trip to and from the airport than of dying during a terrorist attack on an airliner. jflare, your logic on this subject is unfortunately flawed. Your claim fails to account for the fact only four airplanes out of thousands and thousands of other flights throughout the history of commercial passenger aviation were used as weapons by terrorist. Statistics only present an accurate picture of reality when the law of large numbers is applied. Cherry picking the data for one day doesn’t work. In fact, on average, 115 in the US die in traffic accidents per day or over 42,000 deaths per year — again vastly larger than the average number of people dying in the US as the result of terrorist attacks. To be even more specific, 42,116 people died in US traffic accidents in 2001 — nearly 40,000 more than died as the result of terrorist attacks in the US in 2001.

    2) Where do masses of people congregate at an airport in an unsecured area? In this unsecured area, larger and larger numbers of people are gathering due to the implementation of “technology” that makes us “safer.” The most dangerous area of an airport is NOT on an aircraft, yet everything TSA comes up with forces you to wait longer and longer in the most exposed and dangerous area — yet the lemmings never think about that since the “inconvenience” of long lines is simply part of making air travel more “secure.”

    In the United States, our founders recognized that we are all endowed by our Creator with unalienable rights. We need to start standing up for those rights or we will find we have none left.

  14. I’ve read what people have written here. Miriam, your assessment of the specialization and training of personnel in Israel is an accurate one. We have yet to apply such knowledge in a competent manner with the TSA. Many experts in airport security are among those raising concerns.

    One of the things not being discussed, is the psychological effect on these procedures on the TSA personnel themselves. They are being asked to perform tasks which, by themselves, are not only immoral, but very degrading of others, all without adequate training. In order to cope, they must either desensitize themselves to the indignity they impose on others, or suffer emotional stress (which might happen anyway). There is also the risk that certain personnel with psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies will be attracted to this line of work. Already there are reports of TSA screeners enjoying their work a little too much.

    I have no plans to travel by air in the near future, but even with a Federal government ID badge on a chain (which means I’ve been through a Federally-mandated low-level security clearance), I’ll have to go through the same thing. I’ve already contacted my US Senator, who is on an oversight committee in this area which has a hearing tomorrow.

    St Thomas More, pray for him.

  15. Paul says:

    Just suppose for a moment that one of the TSA agents did somehow manage to detect a terrorist with a crotch full of high explosives. Where is the owner of said crotch standing at that very moment? In a tightly packed crowd of people.

    I hope all of them are in a state of grace.

  16. Mitchell NY says:

    It is not so much the image of the nun being “touched” in any way that disgraces me but the state of the world that this would even be thought as necessary.

  17. Stu says:

    I echo Miriam’s and MWBH’s sentiments regarding the security methods used in Israel. We don’t need the current TSA nonsense. We need them to hire and train guys who imitate Columbo and ask lots of questions in a friendly manner to people who “stick out.”

    Interestingly, my last time flying in and out of Israel was painless after I was able to accurately identify myself as an American Naval Officer. Oddly, such credentials don’t mean anything in the States.

  18. Supertradmum says:

    And now CAIR has stated that no Moslem woman may be searched or patted down except around the head and neck. If the politicians give in to this threat, we are doomed.

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/11/hamas-linked-cair-tsa-may-only-search-around-muslim-womens-head-neck.html

    I am sorry your were singled out, Father Z.

  19. Jacob says:

    Both these pieces by Jeffrey Goldberg are excellent at going through TSA’s system and exposing their flaws. The part in the first article about how the author got through security with two tubes of what he told TSA was saline solution for his contacts and TSA didn’t bother to verify is chilling:

    “Get some steel epoxy glue at a hardware store. It comes in two tubes, one with steel dust and then a hardener. You make the mold by folding a piece of cardboard in two, and then you mix the two tubes together. You can use a metal spoon for the handle. It hardens in 15 minutes.”

    The Things He Carried — The Atlantic

    Airport security in America is a sham—“security theater” designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items—as our correspondent did with ease.

    Bruce Schneier on TSA Absurdity and the Need for Resilience — The Atlantic

    Bruce Schneier, my security guru, thinks that the President should confront the American people with the hard truth: Onerous new security regimes in our civilian aviation system won’t protect us. What will protect us is our own resilience. I had an e-mail exchange with Bruce yesterday, and here is an edited transcript:

  20. JaneC says:

    I have serious concerns about the radiation in the new scanners, for those of us who fly many times a year. The government says it’s safe, but it’s also been said that it is the equivalent of getting a dental x-ray–a level of radiation known to cause problems in large doses. I am concerned for the health of flight crews who must go through security almost every day, or suffer the indignity of a pat down (and there have already been complaints about inappropriate “lingering” in pat downs). Frankly, if we don’t trust our pilots not to bring bombs on the plane…well, they don’t need to bring a weapon with them to create a problem on a plane, now do they?

  21. robtbrown says:

    I have been told that 99% of the airport security check at the gate is just cosmetic, intended not to make people safer but to make them feel safer. Further, in order to avoid accusations of profiling, they select obvious non terrorists for a thorough exam, not only people like Fr Z but also my 80+ year old mother.

  22. Catherine says:

    Here is the best way I’ve seen so far to solve the problem:
    A great alternative to body scanners at airports….
    The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.

    It’s a booth you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you. They see this as a win-win for everyone, with none of the whining about racial profiling. It also would eliminate the costs of long and expensive trials. Justice would be swift. Case closed!

    You’re in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system: “Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on flight number ____. Shalom.”

  23. xgenerationcatholic says:

    It’s important that we single out Catholic priests and nuns. Didn’t you hear about the hijacking of the plane by the group of nuns with rulers? They made everyone stay in their seats and practice penmanship. I hear it was pretty ghastly…

  24. Winfield says:

    The Israelis are diligent to prevent all terrorists from boarding planes, while the TSA seeks to keep all possible weapons–including everyday objects such as scissors–from being carried onto flights. They target people, while we target objects. One approach involves profiling potential terrorists based on their travel patterns, backgrounds, dress, ethnicity, and behavior, and is remarkably effective. The other assumes that any member of the flying public is a potential terrorist, from grade schoolers to the elderly in wheelchairs. One has as its sole goal the safeguarding of flights in a state that is an object of hatred and constant attack; the other has as its goal–in compliance with our politically correct sensibilities–offending all so that none are singled out for offense. One response demonstrates resolve; the other reveals vincible ignorance and cowardice.

  25. LawrenceK says:

    Take a look at what the TSA does to small children:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4vM6E0OT9Y
    In this video, the victim is three years old. Scroll to 0:52 in the video to see how bad it was.

    If this were done by someone who wasn’t a government employee, they would go to prison.

  26. LawrenceK says:

    Oops, the video has been pulled (censored) by the producers. It was a three-year-old girl, screaming over and over “Don’t touch me!” as the lady from TSA ran her hands all over her legs.

  27. moon1234 says:

    And people wonder how the camps in Germany were filled so easily. People don’t want to believe their government could try to harm them. This is conditioning people. How far of a leap do you think it is to stopping cars, searching them, checking your home, etc. If you are an “offender” you will be taken away.

    It is the EXACT same way the germans demeaned the Jews. Eventually “normal” Germans just did nothing for fear THEY would be next. Think I am paranoid? I think I am right. Our founding fathers would be planning a new revolution against the modern oppressive government. That is unless DHS, TSA and the other alphabets didn’t declare them terrorists, throw them in some un-named prison overseas and leave them to rot.

  28. Tina in Ashburn says:

    There are much better methods than this to achieve security.

    By Googling I found many stories, recordings and videos of TSA’s egregious, invasive harassment. Those that think this is “okay” and worth the price for security, have not researched this enough. What I found are hair-raising reports from all over. Our laws are supposed to protect United States citizens from this kind of treatment. Is this government agency immune to the very laws that our government is supposed to uphold? These actions under these circumstances would be considered illegal by any standard.

    That this can happen almost overnight terrifies me.

    One commenter on one of the sites that I perused stated that the TSA has become the terrorist.

  29. jflare says:

    Sometimes I wonder if having been in the military for awhile affects my perceptions more than I intend. Some of the comments above highlight that idea to me.
    spschultz, I don’t precisely disagree with you, but I wasn’t emphasizing a statistic to justify TSA’s security efforts. I meant to emphasize the fact that it only takes a tiny scintilla of potential trouble to create a nation-wide, even world-wide, catastrophe.
    TSA, for better or worse, was created to keep that to a minimum.
    Being a government agency though, it’s inherently subject to political..winds.
    For example, not too many months after the Iraq invasion, someone howled at Secretary Rumsfeld about the number of deaths in Iraq over some months. Rumsfeld countered, noting that more people had died in the US in one day from average car accidents, even by a factor of 2 or 3. Rather than seeing the point, the media portrayed Rumsfeld as a callous tyrant who cared not a lick about his troops. It was a grossly inaccurate portrayal, but ultimately, it may well have contributed to his early retirement from the position.
    Such is the environment that TSA administrators and personnel live each day.

    They have essentially an impossible task: Protect air, sea, and land travelers from acts of terror over a land mass three times the size of Europe, and don’t offend any of the wrong people in the process.
    With our nation being in the political state that it’s in, that’s won’t really happen. Someone will be killed or someone else will get ticked. That’s simply the fact of life.
    But, if the government did nothing differently from before, those in the right positions would be roasted alive politically again if more people died in a “preventable” attack. So what do you do with an impossible situation? Whatever you feel you can.
    If you can’t profile certain groups due to political strife, what do you do? You act as Winfield suggested: You make EVERYBODY ticked off.
    And so they do.

    Still, we could try doing security more like El Al, right?
    Well, yes..and no.

    Gordon Liddy discussed that on his show several years ago. He commented that even if he had the will to try–we don’t, noted above–we’d be broke before we succeeded.
    Keep in mind, El Al is an airline owned and operated (I think) by..the Israeli government. The same one that has fought several wars in it’s 60 year existence. Every group bent on terror knows that if they attack El Al, the Israeli government will hit the culprit. HARD. And they won’t apologize.
    Then too, they have a land mass possibly slightly smaller than the state of California. MUCH easier to accomplish security in that space than on a land mass like the US, three times the size of all of Europe combined.

    So what’s the answer to all this?
    Do we require our government to “knock it off” and let people die as they may?
    Are we willing, as a whole populace of the United States, to take that chance? Even for something innocent like trying to take a vacation?

    Personally, I wouldn’t mind a lick if we’d eliminate security and make flying small airplanes much more cost-effective for all. That way, everyone could get around pretty easily and we wouldn’t have to worry too much about invasions of privacy.
    Unfortunately, I doubt that idea will “take off” any time in the near future.
    Too bad.

  30. MarkJ says:

    No Christian should allow themselves to be scanned and have their naked image, as well as that of their spouse and children, exposed to a stranger in a dark room. This is beneath our dignity as children of God. This is an affront to our modesty and an assault on our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. This is an attack by the Evil One on purity and holiness. We, as Catholics, must take a stand and refuse to be scanned. We must also refuse the airport pat downs, where strangers are required to engage in “feeling up” our wives, our children, our priests and our sisters. This is obscenity promoted for the sake of false security. We must follow the example of the Saints, and stand up for purity, no matter the consequences. If we must stop flying for a time, so be it. We are, first and foremost, Catholics.

  31. B Knotts says:

    These invasive procedures which do not respect the dignity of the human person are not effective, nor are they meant to be.

    They are security theater, only intended to make people feel as if something is being done.

  32. jflare says:

    So we all agree that TSA isn’t acting in a saintly manner.
    Well, let’s remember, TSA consists of people, just like each of us. (Someone hinted at that already.)
    So..we just had an election..I have e-mails from the Susan B. Anthony list, amongst others, about our pro-life victories. Does anyone here wish to volunteer to organize another political movement to end TSA’s abuses? Make a huge fuss to Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, John Boehner, and President Obama?

    I don’t wish to aggravate people with posting a lot tonight, but..our response to government, whom should be taking orders from us, is a BIG pet peeve of mine. Neither do I wish to sound as though we’re all guilty of negligence as citizens if we don’t do much more than howl. I’m busy just like everyone else.
    At the same time, TSA has been around for closer to 10 years and I’ve heard tons of horror stories. Are the actions we’ve seen worth acting upon?

  33. Sliwka says:

    I saw a segment on Colbert the other night where he had a guest (I think the reporter from the linked Atlantic article) come on and say that, much to no ones surprise, these measures only make people feel more safe, whilst at the same time making them more afraid (which is really the goal of terrorists) and therefore the terrorists win.

    Colbert cut him off (due to a commercial break) right as he was about to give examples of good airport security measures, rather than these invasive pseudosecurity.

    One of the best things he brought up was that this current system is rife with abuse (or at least the posibility of abuse by both TSA and passengers). For example, a male pasenger looking for a cheap thrill could claim homosexuality and demand being frisked by a woman. There were other scenerios too. I think the 3 yr old one also is another good example.

  34. Fr. Basil says:

    A priest friend of mine was walking down the street in his white cassock and pectoral cross shortly after 9/11–and someone driving by yelled, “TERRORIST!” at him.

    \\For example, a male pasenger looking for a cheap thrill could claim homosexuality and demand being frisked by a woman.\\

    But in this case, he would still be more likely to get frisked by a man.

  35. Grace says:

    Winfield,
    Well said!

  36. mpolo says:

    I have to say, I don’t know how I would respond to these kind of searches. Catholic modesty is part of who I am. I am not comfortable exposing myself to strangers. I use a stall rather than a urinal. It’s one thing to have your doctor look at you, quite another to have a random “security guy” start touching in this way. I wouldn’t want the scanner, and I wouldn’t want the “pat down”. And in our society there’s not really a choice about whether to fly or not — pay 3 times as much and lose a week or two to take a ship across the Atlantic? I don’t think so.

    I hope that these measures are repealed before I next have to go home to the States.

  37. kat says:

    It was just a movie….but many years ago I watched a movie called “Conspiracy of Hearts” about a convent protecting Jewish children and hiding them from the Nazi’s. One scene that always stood out to me, even 30+ years later: a Nazi officer came in the convent and took hold of a nun. Her response was a calm stare and “My person is inviolable.” The soldier immediately removed his hand. There used to be a respect for modesty and especially those who have the vows. There is none now, from barely anyone.

    And I agree with many commenters: this form of “terrorism” from our own government in the name of our protection is not worth it. I don’t have a death wish; but as a very old statement goes, “better dead than red.” I don’t wish to live with no freedom under a police state.

  38. Marysann says:

    We lived in Israel for three years, and flew in and out of Tel Aviv Airport many times. Although Israel is much smaller than the US and has only one international airport, they still have a lot to teach us about airplane security. They work on the principle that people blow up planes, objects do not. So they look for the people who they think are a threat. When ever you fly into Israel, the passengers are shunted off to a special room for security before boarding. It is time consuming, and a real hassle, but in all of our flights in to Israel, not one of my family member or I have ever been physically touched by anyone. Once our son, who was in his early twenties and traveling alone, was pulled out for special screening, but when the found out that is father was an American diplomat, they let him go. Young men traveling alone are a red flag, diplomats’ kids aren’t. The bottom line is that the Israelis practice profiling which Americans consider discriminatory. As a nation we have to decide, profiling, or searches of nuns and old ladies while terrorists stroll right through.

  39. JosephMary says:

    I traveled, leaving from Boston, on Monday. I had to go through the whole body scanner and I also went through the small scanner which did not beep but I had to take the wooden decade rosary out of my pocket and put it in a bowl to go through the machine and then a 6 ft tall woman was told to pat me down. I asked why and she said because my clothes (jumper) were baggy. I told her it was modesty…

    The intrusion of being felt down was not a good feeling at all.

  40. After being singled out for “special attection” 4 (yes, 4) times in a row, I stopped wearing clericals on planes. I have never been singled out for “special attention” since. Although I have seen other priests and plenty of nuns singled out. There is a word for this kind of “security” . . .

  41. bernadette says:

    For some reason I am frequently singled out for special attention. It must be the blond hair and blue eyes and hillbilly accent. I have been put through the body scanner at LAX and felt absolutely violated, had the pat down in my own hometown airport, and had my luggage searched on four out of six trips home in various airports in Europe.
    Not flying is not an option, since I have children and grandchildren on the opposite coast. I guess I could refuse the pat down and scanner but then I couldn’t fly and would never see my family. Is this a choice that Catholics should make? Perhaps. It would indeed be a hard cross to bear.

  42. Jacob says:

    1. I really encourage everyone to read those linked-to Atlantic articles.

    2. I have read that while El Al security procedures are extremely effective, they are not scalable. El Al is one airline operating from a country of less than ten million. Those forms of intense security would not be feasible for a country the size of the US with all the flights emanating from and flying into its territory.

    3. I have also read the suggestion that security be turned over to the airlines themselves.
    a. There would be high security airlines like El Al charging high prices.
    b. There would be medium security airlines offering TSA pat downs.
    c. There would be budget security airlines where the passengers would have to fend for themselves.
    Which airline would you all choose?

    4. For all the clergy posting here about the indignities of travel, wouldn’t you agree how prescient Michael D. O’Brien was in describing Father Elijah’s travels while wearing clericals? It’s a sign of the times.

  43. Miriam says:

    Here is a Youtube video which was prescient to say the least. It’s less than a minute long. The scene about security is towards the end.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyAautx-mVc&feature=related

  44. Flambeaux says:

    I’ve simply determined that my family will no longer fly anywhere. Which really sucks. I’ve wanted to go back to Rome for a while but transatlantic passage is very expensive these days.

  45. PghCath says:

    I want very little of TSA: 1) Whatever you’re going to do to me, do it quickly so I can get to my gate and back to my book. 2) Please don’t give me cancer with your full body scanners.

    That said, I am troubled by fact that clergymen who read this blog are apparently being singled out for wearing their clericals.

  46. MaryRoseM says:

    Fr. Z, I am sorry to hear you were singled out. The same goes for any religious who are wearing either the Roman collar or a habit. Personally, I feel many of the TSA agents are a bit heavy-handed and trying too hard to enforce a sense of security. And I say “sense” intentionally because all of this to me is security theater. Just as the reporter for The Atlantic said, terrorists often hide explosives and tools inside their private areas. No screening machine is going to detect that, nor will an aggressive pat-down.

    I think they’re also trying to prove a (stupid) point by pulling out religious clerics in order to show how “tough” they are with security.

    Recently, I’ve been hearing stories of TSA agents running their hands inside the waistband of loose-fitting pants so that basically, all that is between their hands and someone’s private area is their underwear. This is beyond ridiculous! Some people travel in comfortable clothes, but if you’re wearing sweatpants or yoga pants, be aware. It seems as though hands on the outside aren’t good enough for TSA standards.

    I am very modest and refuse to go through any scanner that virtually strip-searches me. I also refuse to submit myself to these invasive procedures. And so, I will never fly again. Period. I just finished a visit with my father in Florida and we made the trip in one day. (I drove 17 hours straight going and 19 coming back, with my sweet husband as my co-pilot.)

    Israel could teach us much regarding this important area. I’m not against security, but let’s do it right. All this is doing is angering innocent people by treating them as criminals while those who are truly a threat aren’t likely to be noticed.

  47. jflare says:

    I’m not real surprised to hear that priests seem to be singled out.
    Remember, TSA can’t offend the wrong people.
    We, Catholics, aren’t the wrong people.
    If Janet Napolitano can consider pro-lifers to be terrorists, do you really think they have any compunctions against profiling Catholic priests? After all, from her point of view, priests are pedophile-wanna-be’s.
    Facts and truth are problems that DHS can ignore.

  48. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Catherine @ 16 Nov. 9:45pm: Your comment, I thought, was hilarious. I almost spit the morning coffee up at the computer. The secretary and parishioners meandering in the office also got a huge laugh at it.

  49. Jack Hughes says:

    This paritcular security woman is probebly gonna catch some big time heat when she goes before the eternal judge; I suspect she probebly did it to the Sister just becasue she could.

    If I ever get into Religious Life I’m gonna stare down any TSA person who tries to ‘pat’ me down. It was bad enough on the way to the States 3 years ago getting frisked by a guy at Heathrow – that was just a quick and non-invasive one.

    What bugs me is the way that Priests and Religious get singled out when they are the people least likely to be a terrorist; also because namby-pamby civil rights do gooders don’t want those who are most likely to be terrorsist i.e. Muslims – sorry Middle Eastern Liberals to be singled out.

  50. M.D. says:

    The rude and disrespectful attitudes of any officer(s) is completely unacceptable. Complaints should be made. They do help to identify problematic officers. The procedures, well… TSO’s are just doing what they are told. But they are instructed to inform (prior to pat downs and bag searches) and to do this in the way they would wish to be treated.

  51. TJerome says:

    this is the price of political correctness run amuk. We should take tips from the Israelis. They have been very, very successful.

  52. Stvsmith2009 says:

    What amazes me is, that apparently the people who read Father Z’s blog, and comment, are in the minority when it comes to opposing these kinds of searches. From people I talked to, most are not bothered in the least with TSA patting down a priest or nun. They say they want everyone patted down because they feel safer. One person in particular kept insisting that a terrorist might try to slip through dressed as a nun or priest. I asdked them when was the last time they heard of a terrorist dressed as either. Made no difference. The government has done it’s job of wimping out the American spirit, and keeping people in a state of fear.

    I tried to explain to people that this was a case of wagging the dog. It gives the appearance of doing something when it doesn’t accomlish anything.

    Supertradmum, I am not surprised at CAIR’s reaction. I told several people last night, that if a Catholic priest or nun sued over being patted down it would get thrown out of court. However, let a covered muslim woman or an imam sue over being patted down, not only would it go to court, but the ACLU would be there representing them.

  53. Katherine says:

    Slightly different perspective: While I wouldn’t like being searched, I really don’t think it would be smart to pass over someone *just because* they were dressed like a cleric or religious. Heck, if I was really determined to blow up a plane, I would dress in an outfit least likely to cause suspicion. Do you think terrorists actually want to look like the stereotypical Hollywood terrorist? But maybe I’ve read a bit too much Tin Tin.

  54. Flambeaux says:

    Actually, many of them do look like “stereotypical” terrorists. They are proud of what they do. They announce their intentions. They act openly. This should make it easier to identify them and kill them. Except that to do so upsets the sensibilities of the foolish people who decide our public policy.

  55. m says:

    My dad always says that “TSA” stands for “Too many Sitting Around”. They think they are especially important just because they are the “security”, and they are overly worried about terrorists. If they singled me out for a check, I would probably be fuming on the inside for quite a while.