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Ron Paul: Airport Scanners: Enough is Enough (c-spanvideo.org)
244 points by DanielBMarkham on Nov 18, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

I hated to post this, because it's a political speech, but I think it's important historically because I think it shows the tables starting to turn on this issue. Lord knows I don't want to see a dozen political speeches on HN a day, but I believe this is unique, it's very tech-related, and its a topic the community has shown a great amount of interest in.

I imagine once the rest of the professional political class really understands what a total disaster TSA has created there will be speeches like this everyday. The bandwagon will be full and more will be clamoring to get on-board. (and yes, I know they've already started, but this seems to be the first higher-profile example of a politician just really letting loose on the issue).

I still remain skeptical that the politicians can fix it, but perhaps we'll enter a period where lots of speeches are made and fingers pointed. For those of you who are political junkies, it will be very interesting to see how the national parties respond to this over the next two years.

For the benefit of the class, here is Ron Paul's legislative record, nicely laid out:

http://j.mp/cPogFY [thomas.loc.gov]

Sampling of the first page:

* A concurrent resolution prohibiting use of Federal funds for foreign travel by Senators, Representatives, and officers and employees of the Congress, unless such travel is specifically authorized by a recorded three-fourths vote of the House involved.

* A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to abolishing personal income, estate, and gift taxes and prohibiting the United States Government from engaging in business in competition with its citizens.

* A joint resolution to end the practice of guaranteeing or making available loans to foreign governments.

* A bill to repeal the Federal Reserve Act.

* Flat Rate Tax Act of 1983

* A bill to provide that for purposes of assessing the taxable gain of a taxpayer, the Internal Revenue Service shall treat income in the form of United States coins or currency as income received in the amount of the face value of such coins or currency.

* A bill to amend the Social Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to make social security coverage completely optional for both present and future workers, to freeze benefit levels, to provide for the partial financing of future benefits from general revenues subject to specified conditions, to eliminate the earnings test, to make changes in the tax treatment of IRA accounts, and for other purposes.

* A bill to repeal all authority of the Federal Government to regulate wages in private employment.

* United Nations Termination Act

(These are old, but he re-introduces them regularly; just last year, he again proposed to abolish the income tax).

Yes, I do think Paul is a mendacious kook. But my point here is, a Paul bill is actually a counterindication of the sense of the House. The fact that Paul is the first to address the issue suggests that the rest of the House (along with 80% of Americans, according to a CBS poll) don't think this is a real issue.

The incoming Chairman of the House subcommittee which oversees TSA calls the entire screening process "a Kabuki dance" and the U.S. House already voted overwhelmingly 310-118 in June 2009 to ban the use of the scanners as the primary means of airport screening. Ron Paul is one voice among many and is hardly the first.



I am hopeful that after a couple months of egregious overreach by the TSA, the bipartisan outcry will be enough to prompt action. I don't think that Paul's "enough is enough" position on this issue is itself far outside the mainstream (but: it is currently outside it).

All I'm saying is, if there's an inference to be made about the legislative fate of the TSA's screening program from a Paul bill, it's probably not the inference we'd like to make.

I think that if anything is going to happen, it'll be in the next month and a half. While people are traveling for the holidays, they just might get annoyed enough to precipitate some action. But if the jackbooted thugs can hold off any political action for that long, it'll fade away once the heavy travel days are past.

Yes, I do think Paul is a mendacious kook.

I understand how his non-mainstream positions can cause people to brand him as a kook, but why would you add mendacious?

I'm a pragmatic liberal entrepreneur who believes in a social safety net and who does not believe that, left to its own devices, discrimination on the basis of race, gender, and religion (or, for that matter, monetary policy) would simply resolve themselves optimally.

This doesn't explain fully why I think Paul is dishonest, but it spells out my politics enough to make the dots easy enough to connect. Obviously, I'd prefer to avoid a political argument on HN.

Thank you for elaborating. I wasn't seeking an argument, just clarification. I don't agree with all of Ron Paul's positions either, but the one impression I do get from everything I've seen of him is that he is truly genuine in his beliefs, and how he professes them. If anything, I'd say he generally displays more candor than people usually give politicians credit for.

This is specifically what I do not believe about Paul, but I'll spare you further elaboration.

If you're not going to support a serious reputation-destroying accusation then why make it in the first place? I don't think HN is the place for smears.

Because my point about the non-importance of a new Ron Paul bill stands whether or not I am personally biased against Paul; I was forestalling a pointless political argument.

Paul votes against earmarks for TX, but for the overall bill (with earmarks). He was taken to task for this during the election. I'm not aware of any other evidence that suggests his bills are disingenuous.

Is this the kind of problem that a politician like ron paul can fix though? Thanks in great part to Reddit, Ron Paul is largely associated with crackpot ultra-libertarian Ayn Rand type movements, so anyone in the know would probably dismiss anything he does out of hand as "just a stunt move". Certainly, that's my first impression for his introduction of a bill with no political support and, as far as I understand the US legal system, zero chance of actually getting anywhere.

Now, if someone with some political credibility introduced a bill with support from other members of the House and Senate, that'd be worth pointing out. But as it is, this is no more "serious" than a good sketch on the Daily Show, is it?

Paul's reputation for submitting legislation that gets ignored by congress is much older than Reddit. For better or worse, Ron Paul has always represented an agenda that is unpopular in congress and he has always voted with that agenda in mind. He is not prone to compromise.

He's actually gotten into a much stronger position of late than he has been in past.

> Thanks in great part to Reddit, Ron Paul is largely associated with crackpot ultra-libertarian Ayn Rand type movements, so anyone in the know would probably dismiss anything he does out of hand as "just a stunt move".

You greatly overestimate the power of Reddit. You also misread Reddit--he's most associated with just plain crackpots there than with ultra-libertarians. Ultra-libertarians are for reduced government everywhere--Ron Paul doesn't seem to mind government, as long as it is not Federal government.

> Ron Paul doesn't seem to mind government, as long as it is not Federal government.

Indeed. And with a number of U.S. states having economies larger than most countries, this is not such a illogical ideal.

I think that in spite of Ron Paul having been marginalized, he still has a lot of credibility among people who irrationally didn't vote for him b/c they prefer to vote for a candidate who they believe has a chance of winning.

> ultra-libertarian Ayn Rand type

It is a mistake to conflate Ayn Rand with libertarians: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/libertarians.html

The strongest libertarians I’ve met in my own personal live seem to be fans of objectivism.

I don't know. I'm hugely aware of how Ron Paul got stereotyped in the last election, and I think he's not the guy to fix it.

But we're not at the point of fixing it yet, I don't think (unless TSA comes to their senses. One can always hope). More likely is that you will see politicians who are considered outside the mainstream begin to pound the podium over this. In time, I expect it to become more mainstream. A month maybe? A year? As hot as folks are, it might happen very quickly.

The big problem here is that the answer requires putting people in charge at the local airport who are allowed to make mistakes. I hate what's happened to airport security, but I'd happily do the naked body scan and group grope -- as long as it was done on an ad-hoc basis. Maybe once out of every thousand flights or something. There's a bit of a quagmire about the way politics works, especially involving areas of risk and fear, which I won't go into here. Let's just say that yes, Ron Paul is not the guy, but things could change, and change quickly. But the overall problem of how to solve airport security is just going to stick around. Even if the grownups show up and set TSA straight, the only thing they're going to learn is how to use fear to sell even more equipment that intrudes on every passenger. Just in a different way.

They need to find the terrorist, not the weapon. The plane can be full of weapons, and as long as nobody wishes any harm to be done, it's as safe as a plane without weapons at all. Such a simple concept, yet I think it's going to be a bridge too far for policy-makers. (of course a plane can't be full of nervous people carrying nitro-glycerin and hand grenades, but you get my point)

You're not necessarily looking for the terrorist, though. You might also be looking for the guy who might have too much to drink, get into an argument with his seat neighbor, then reach into his bag for his glock. Or the guy that's just mentally unstable.

Granted, these are one-off cases, but I can't think of a good reason for people to have guns, or (large) hunting knives in their carry-on luggage. And truthfully, if people want to pack guns in their checked luggage, from a safety perspective, it's probably better to have them declare it and put it into some sort of 'safe' container. Lord knows there will be people with ammunition that is waiting to misfire inside the luggage storage compartment of the plane.

(Not that I'm defending the TSA's actions for the past 9 years or anything...)

You might also be looking for the guy who might have too much to drink, get into an argument with his seat neighbor, then reach into his bag for his glock.

Has this ever happened?

There are plenty of people that get drunk and have done things like assault airline personnel. It's not a leap to think that one of them might reach for a weapon at some point.

"Maybe once out of every thousand flights or something."

So what gives you or anyone else the right to play God? Have you missed the point about these scanners being a health concern as much as flying is?

fixing the problem will take bi-partisan agreement -- which (at least in my opinion) will only happen if the grassroots outrage continues to mount. in that context, a powerful speech on the floor of Congress adds flames to the fire not matter who makes it.

and don't underestimate Ron Paul's influence. the Tea Party movement (which has a lot of overlap with libertarians on a lot of issues) and a general "small government" attitude were big winners in November. and with the Republicans recapturing control of the House, Paul's seniority leaves him well-positioned.

for more about the general political situation for privacy-related issued in the upcoming congress, here's my notes from a Privacy Coalition call early this month: http://getfisaright.wordpress.com/2010/11/15/looking-forward...

To be clear, I think for many of us, this is not about "being naked in public". It's not that "those silly Americans with their unreasonable body taboos" What this is, is just another straw, although a fairly large one, that's being piled on the back of an increasingly cranky camel since 9-11. This straw could have been any other increase in the erosion of rights of US citizens.

I'm confused why you seem to be so hostile to a member of congress from another country speaking up about an issue. We have no elections for two years so I'm uncertain why his motives are suspect to you.

My understanding of your legal system is that before a bill introduced in the House becomes law, it needs to:

- be amended and approved by the appropriate Representatives committee

- be passed by the House of Representatives

- be amended and approved by the appropriate Senate committee

- pass the "filibuster" gate

- be passed by the Senate

- have any amendments reconciled

- be signed into law by the president

See http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_law.html for more details. Each of those steps are difficult and require a lot of politicking about, building consensus, getting public support from other politicians across both houses, and so on. Successful bills are usually announced with political support from leading figures right away, particularly when they touch on a controversial topic.

So, proposing a bill with no meaningful consensus-building or public support is effectively just a PR gesture. It is utterly and completely fucking pointless when you're known as a politician associated with crackpots. Except, of course, for the purpose of getting the aforementioned crackpots worked up that "something is happening". Hence my point:

Is Ron Paul just capitalising on yet another libertarian crackpot movement and actually hurting the very legitimate cause of telling the TSA to keep their grubby paws and scanners away from travellers' bodies?

Is Ron Paul just capitalizing on yet another libertarian crackpot movement and actually hurting the very legitimate cause of telling the TSA to keep their grubby paws and scanners away from travelers' bodies?

Preventing the government from groping travelers is exactly what libertarianism is. In this case, most people seem to be behind his "libertarian crackpot movement", if only for the TSA.

Most people are in favor of the scanners.

source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/15/politics/main70579...

Most people don't fly regularly. The people that are answering that survey are not really qualified to talk about the issue, as they don't know what the machines entail, what data they expose, and what the alternatives are.

Do this survey in a line of people queuing to go through one and watch the results change. Do the survey after some ex-con pats down their 6-year-old daughter and watch the results change even more.

News surveys are worthless for debating public policy. You could do a poll of whether the Earth is flat or round, but the fact that some people said it was flat doesn't make it so.

The majority is so large I don't think it can be easily explained or wished away. Honestly I think you're cognitive-dissonancing here.

The people that are answering that survey are likely as not people who vote, which is all that counts when it comes to "debating" public policy. There is no procedural rule in Congress that says "And finally, qualified experts shall vote on each bill, after appropriate discussion."

The way the questions is asked makes the new procedures seem pretty similar to the x-rays people are used to.

If CBS wanted to poll effectively, they could show an image of the x-ray, or even better, show people an image of their own x-ray, and then ask them if they would be ok with that.

Then if they say no, they would show them a video of the pat down (their other choice) being performed on the gender. And ask them if they would be cool with that.

If they said no to that, then ask them if they are cool with paying a 10,000 fine as the third option.

See how people survey given more complete facts.

> Is Ron Paul just capitalising on yet another libertarian crackpot movement and actually hurting the very legitimate cause of telling the TSA to keep their grubby paws and scanners away from travellers' bodies?

I would say it's people that call him a crackpot instead of looking at the merits of the argument that are hurting this legitimate cause. Watch the video. He's right; we expect the government to protect us and have become submissive to them. Not enough people care and it's sad.

  > Is Ron Paul just capitalising on yet another libertarian crackpot
  > movement and actually hurting the very legitimate cause of telling
  > the TSA to keep their grubby paws and scanners away from travellers'
  > bodies?
He's probably not hurting it. People aren't going to all of the sudden enjoy being groped because Ron Paul said that groping was bad.

While I mostly agree with you, I could really do without the repeated "libertarian crackpot" sideswipes.

If you've ever spent any time on reddit/r/politics, it's pretty hard to call them anything else... but, fair enough, less sideswipes in the future.

You'll live a very "interesting" life if you choose to filter your world view through the comments sections of Reddit.

As a Libertarian, I think I should at least attempt to exempt myself from what I consider 'Reddit Libertarians', which are really more 'Ultra-Libertarians' or 'Anarcho-Libertarians' than Libertarians proper.

Ron Paul is a good example of a Libertarian, though he often parties Republican, in that he wants to liberate power from the Federal government and relinquish it back to states, generally speaking.

From what I've seen, many Redditarians just want the government to give up all their power, and just not have it anymore, uhhhh, for great justice.

Edit: I really wanted to use the word "Redditarian" after I thought of it.

Calling anyone a crackpot says more about you than them. Please keep it on reddit.

Interesting - I guess this means reddit/politics is no longer full of "BUSHitler will bomb Iran by $NEXT_HOLIDAY", "Chimpeach the Chimperor" and "PROOF: new crazy youtube video shows FIRE doesn't melt STEEL and 9/11 was inside job"?

Thank you for your interest in US government. I'm delighted to see a foreign citizen take so much interest.

I think you would agree that the likelihood of a filibuster on this issue is zero. I would suggest that the likelihood of a presidential veto on such a bill would also approach zero. As for the whole amendment crap, that is our public shame, that no bill can just be about what it was written about, but instead, must be saddled with miscellaneous additions on any number of unrelated matters. If I could change that aspect of our government, I would do so.

You left out the much more obstructive part of the system, committees.

I find it kinda funny how people have problem with the current use of the filibuster when it was used by the other party in the past. It is a tradition to protect the minority. Committee rules are much more damaging and used much more often then the filibuster has ever been used.

The filibuster is never actually used anymore, just threatened. That's good enough to get what you want. No one these days has the patience or balls to actually make someone go through with it.

Dr. Paul is a respected member of that body.

Well, there's respected and respected.

How many co-sponsors does he have on that bill? I have to agree with the assessment that it has "zero chance of actually getting anywhere."

So get out and PUSH. I've already contacted my representatives this morning.

I was under the impression that last June (2009) the House voted 310-118 to add an amendment (the Chaffetz amendment) to a bill to ban the scanners as a primary means of screening, but that the Senate never voted on the bill. It seems to me that such a bill would have popular support - supposedly it was backed by both the ACLU and the NRA - but maybe I am understanding the politics wrong.

The amendment may have enjoyed popular support, but did the bill? What bill was it attached to?

The bill is HR 2200. It passed the House on 6/4/09 by a vote of 397-25. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d111:HR02200:@@@R

US political discourse is so corrupted and disconnected from reality that it resembles the interior life of a schizophrenic, crack-addicted gun nut with severe weight and credit-card problems. Nothing substantial will change until a forum for sane discourse emerges, and that's going to take a revolution of some kind. Not necessarily a violent one, but definitely involving radical political change, on the order of the rise of the Republican party under Lincoln. I don't see any such revolution on the horizon, but it's possible.

I am an outsider living in the US, and the hope for change you're expressing makes me think of how the mother of the crack-addicted gun nut schizophrenic must relate to him. To an outsider, he's hopeless, but for anyone with some stake in his happiness, every small move in the right direction is cause for hope, no matter how irrational that might be to others.

You lost me at "gun nut".

Have you seen the US defense budget?

I think you're myopic enough about your position that you're failing to understand the objection. jonnycoder wasn't saying that the USA isn't belligerent and aggressive. If I may be forgiven for putting words in his mouth, I think his point was that you're using for a negative connotation a characterization of a person who is serious about defending himself and his family while seeing that the authorities do not (and cannot) do so, and who believes in the freedoms guaranteed in our Constitution.

Your projection of aspersions on such a person is likely to force that person into defending himself, and hence disagree with your position purely as a defensive stance.

Thanks for the explanation. I meant someone who's obsessed with guns.

I don't think this means the tables are turning. Ron Paul has been an outspoken advocate of privacy for a long time, and the rest of the world ignored him for just as long.

If Joe Biden or John McCain came out in favor of privacy, that would be evidence the tables are turning.

It's just a hot issue, so some politicians will take a stance on this (the cynic in me says - to get some support in the disgruntled segment of the populace...)

As it is; while us vocal minority are kicking up a stink most people are just apathetic about these things. Till that changes, nothing else will.

How is this tech related?

Surely a copyright law, or software patents law would be much more 'tech related'

It's political bikeshedding. Few people have the background to understand Quantitative easing, but everybody gets the squicks about being naked in public.

The politicians know this, of course, and are going to reduce this to a few slogans and beat it into the ground. This despite the fact that very few Americans spend any real amount of time dealing with the TSA.

When I fly in 2 months I will have have to choose between having naked pictures taken of my children, or having them groped. I understand that statement is bit hyperbolic, but it doesn't make the options any less shitty.

The airport we use currently has X-ray machines instead of the millimeter wave scanners, so I will probably have to choose the groping. Here is what I'm expecting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80JAcQ8WOP8

I'm having the same dilemma. We have the back-scatter machines at our airport, and given the reports, I'm tempted to just cancel our plans, or just drive.

I agree except for your very last statement. Its more then an issue of Americans spending time with the TSA its about privacy. This is a backlash against all of the privacy concerns people have against new technology, it just happens that this technology has easy to see consequences.

Here's an overview of the bill - called the "American Traveler Dignity Act"


And re: Ron Paul's credibility, I continue to meet a lot of people who admit (in hushed tones) that they would have voted for him in 2008 if he had made it through the primaries...

I, too, am doubtful our political system is capable of solving the problem unless enough of us as individuals are willing to stand up (and be groped) rather than meekly letting them strip us of our rights.

The duty of the government is to PROTECT our rights, not VIOLATE them!

Better than an overview, here is the full text of the bill:


To ensure that certain Federal employees cannot hide behind immunity.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual's body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual's parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

Isn't this law redundant with the bill of rights? It seems unnecessarily complicated in its wording. It also seems too good to ever pass.

I appreciate Ron Paul's stance, but the introduction of this bill reminds me of the West Wing character Ainsley Hayes and her stance on the Equal Rights Amendment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXPLirJRGDQ#t=3m54s

The Fourth Amendment should already be protecting us from what the TSA is doing. Why isn't it? And isn't the fact that Fourth Amendment violations are not prosecuted as such a much bigger issue?

The clause that shelters the TSA is from a 1973 court decision: "a warrantless search...is valid under the Fourth Amendment if it is 'no more intrusive or intensive than necessary, in light of current technology, to detect weapons or explosives'" (http://www.tsa.gov/what_we_do/optout/spp_faqs.shtm). Cavity searches aren't far.

> And re: Ron Paul's credibility, I continue to meet a lot of people who admit (in hushed tones) that they would have voted for him in 2008 if he had made it through the primaries...

Republicans would do well to notice that a lot of the polling of people who attended tea party rallies across the US show that the people attending were about 50% social liberal / fiscal conservative (more Libertarian) versus social conservative / fiscal conservative (traditional Republican base).

> And re: Ron Paul's credibility, I continue to meet a lot of people who admit (in hushed tones) that they would have voted for him in 2008 if he had made it through the primaries...

Show them his "We The People Act" and then see if they feel the same way.

I'm curious if whoever downvoted me has read the "We The People Act".

What it does is use a legal trick called "jurisdiction stripping" to take several classes of cases out of the jurisdiction of Federal courts (including the Supreme Court). In particular, it removes jurisdiction over cases involving abortion, same-sex marriage, sexual practices, and establishment of religion (with the exception that if the Constitutionality of a Federal law is challenged, Federal courts have jurisdiction).

This would, among other things, make it so that things like the clause in the Texas state constitution that requires office holders to acknowledge belief in a Supreme Being (and this making atheists and Buddhists ineligible for state office in Texas) legal. Right now, that clause has no effect, because any attempt to enforce it would fall to a challenge in Federal court as a violation of the establishment of religion clause in the Constitution and the 14th Amendment. Under "We the People", no challenge could be brought in Federal court.

It would be OK if "We the People" passed for a State to actually establish an official state religion, or to outlaw specific religions.

"The argument from the executive branch is when you buy a ticket you have sacrificed your rights; that isn't the case;you never have to sacrifice your rights." - Ron Paul

Correct for this case, but in the interest of nitpicking "never" is false... If you live in a society with a social contract there are "rights" you sacrifice. Not that sacrifices are a bad thing: the standard usage implies a painful loss for something of much greater value in the end, such as sacrificing a queen to win a game of chess. (Or sacrificing a virgin to gain favor with the gods. The important point is to make sure you're rationally measuring utility.)

I love Dr. Ron Paul! I'm going to call my representative (Mrs. Pelosi) and encourage her support for this bill!

Ok, did you listen to the bill?

Paul is not just trying to revert airport security, he is trying to introduce legislation that removes immunity from the government for anything that a citizen would not have.

The problem with Paul is he is an idealist. We need a pragmatic libertarian.

Was anyone else unimpressed with his delivery? From the transcript:


It just gives the impression that he's more excited than thoughtful. Then again maybe thats more important on the floor of the house.

The transcript reads to me like it's been generated by speech-recognition software, or is a rough draft that has not been cleaned up. There are several other lines that make no sense or seem out of place. Disclaimer: I didn't watch the video, so I'm just speculating.

The logic is impeccable: why do we search pilots when they get (access to) a gun once they have been cleared.

Actually, I felt this line hurt Paul's case. It's one of those lines that sounds clever on the first hearing but falls apart on examination -- like "Why don't they build the plane out of the same stuff as the black box?".

The reason they search pilots is because the only obvious things distinguishing a pilot from a non-pilot are a fancy uniform and an ID. If pilots are exempt from screening, then your method of determining who is a pilot needs to be at least as effective as the screening itself. Otherwise, an adversary needs only to steal or forge the proper credentials to bypass screening.

Either Paul is aware of this and is being deliberately misleading to make his case, or he hasn't given the issue enough consideration.

Respectfully, I don't think you've given the issue enough consideration. You're saying that if they didn't search the pilots, someone would fake as a pilot to get through security? Then what would he do? Stand awkwardly with the rest of the crew thinking up a story to explain why there are two pilots (or three, or whatever) on this particular flight? I would hope that a fake pilot would be fairly easily and quickly detected by the other pilots (who do know each other personally, after all).

I assume he would change clothes in a restroom stall after getting through security but before getting to the boarding area. In fact, that might be overkill... All he needs to do is put away his jacket and hat, maybe put on a sweater -- actions innocuous enough that they could be done in the open.

I'm not taking issue with the logic. If you'll read my comment again my problem is with the delivery.

Who wants to go flying? http://twitpic.com/37y876

That video link isn't working for me anymore, now all I get is a clip with Rep. Keith Ellison talking about stimulus.

Googled and found the Ron Paul clip on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qwsdq69AHnw

Only thing that could have made this better would have been: "I'm as mad as hell..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_qgVn-Op7Q

I was with him until he started talking about how the "greatest boon" to airline security had been "a lock on the door and a gun in the cockpit".

Firstly, to my knowledge, nobody has attempted to storm the cockpit since 9/11, so the locks, though a good idea, haven't actually done anything. And the guns -- projectile weapons not being the best idea when travelling in a pressurized metal capsule anyway -- have certainly never been fired.

The actual improvement in airline security has been greater vigilance on the part of passengers, who stopped both the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, and better intelligence operations in the middle east, which got us the tip-off about the toner cartridge bomb.

Airplanes only represent a unique terror target if they can be used as weapons to inflict greater damage. Putting a bomb on a plane will kill several hundred people, but so will putting a bomb in a mall or train.

Thus, securing the cockpit gets you more bang for the buck by removing a whole avenue of attack, with relatively low cost (the lock and the gun). While I agree that firing a gun in a pressurized cabin isn't the best idea, having it there makes it very likely that the pilots would have an advantage over any potential hijacker, since keeping other guns off the plane is relatively easy, and doesn't require overly invasive searching.

You can hardly point to the lack of the incident that the security measure was designed to prevent as evidence to the pointlessness of said security measure.

If no-one's ever climbed over the walls at a prison, does that mean that the walls are "doing nothing"?

Um, actually somebody tried to storm the cockpit shortly after they mandated that the doors be locked.

Here's the actual text of the bill, H.R.6416http://thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111%3aH.R.6416%3a

From the TSA to Ron Paul in one easy step.

This is what you get when you start with the politics articles.

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