The TSA gets a boost, when it should be getting the boot
The Biden administration is giving the Transportation Security Administration the power to levy stiff penalties on travelers who refuse to mask up or otherwise break health and safety rules.
The TSA was eager to let people know it means business:
First-time offenders now face a fine between $500 and $1,000, while fines for a second offense will range between $1,000 and $3,000, according to a TSA release.
The mask mandate for air travel has also been extended to January. The new TSA rules are part of an action plan Biden revealed…to combat the spread of COVID-19 by making testing more accessible and by strengthening mask mandates nationwide.
Yeah…but the real question is: why do we still have a TSA in the first place? As Jacob Sullum writes, most countries don’t follow the weird restrictions the TSA forces travelers here to endure, and there’s no indication anything the TSA does rises above the level of so-called “security theater.”
Take the example of removing your shoes at the security checkpoint:
As late as August 9, 2006, nearly five years after Reid became notorious as a would-be Al Qaeda “shoe bomber,” the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was still advising air travelers that “you don’t have to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector.” A week later, the TSA began saying “you are required to remove your shoes before you enter the walk-through metal detector.” The TSA says it changed the policy “based on intelligence pointing to a continuing threat” from shoe bombs.
How big a danger Reid himself posed is debatable. He attracted flight attendant Hermis Moutardier’s notice because he repeatedly lit matches while vainly attempting to ignite a fuse that ran through a sweat-dampened shoelace. Initially Moutardier told him smoking was prohibited, and he promised to comply. But when she found him leaning over in his seat, she asked what he was doing, at which point he reached to grab her, revealing a shoe in his lap and another lit match. Passengers subdued Reid before he could try yet again to set off the bomb.
Who else, besides the TSA, demands shoe removal at security:
…just two countries that copy the U.S. policy on shoes: Russia and the Philippines. Another thread on the same forum also mentioned Belize and Sri Lanka.
Not exactly a ringing global endorsement of the TSA policy, enacted years after the event that supposedly triggered it, and still in force today.
Rather than give the TSA more power, we should be moving as quickly as possible to dismantle it, and return security responsibilities to the airlines.