Out-of-Whack Air Travel Security

Do we have too little security or are we overreacting to every little thing?

ByABC News
November 10, 2009, 5:17 AM

Jan. 27, 2010 — -- Have I a bad case of whiplash. Not from any accident, though. It's from snapping my head back and forth as I watch air travel security hurtle from one extreme to another.

You know what I'm talking about. We start with a big, fat failure for the intelligence and security communities for not detecting the would-be Underpants Bomber, accused of trying to take down a Northwest jet on Christmas Day. Clearly, that was a case of too little security.

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Now zoom the other way, to too much security, as a sobbing three-year-old sees his Play-Doh confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for "security reasons."

Zoom again: How about the fellow on a Midwest flight earlier this month, who belatedly realized he brought shot gun shells aboard the plane. Whoops! Where was security then?

As one of the readers of my blog wrote me: "My problem is with the lack of consistency in pretty much ANYTHING the TSA does or says."

But is consistency even possible? And it's not just the TSA's fault -- you can also blame the airlines, the airports, and even us, the flying public.

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Here's an example where I think you could fault the passengers and crew in a one-two combination punch of security run amok with a frisson of religious ignorance.

A flight operated by a subsidiary of US Airways was diverted to Philadelphia last week because somebody thought the religious items used by a 17-year-old Jewish kid for his morning prayers could somehow be a bomb. Travelers were later rebooked on other flights; I can only imagine the fun.