Is TSA Profiling ‘Reason’able?

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In The Case for Profiling Air Travelers, Reason’s Robert Poole makes the case for expanded “profiling” by the TSA thugs:

In short, profiling is a legitimate technique for deciding how to allocate security resources. Catching terrorists is tough. Making the TSA pat-down or body-scan every single person on every single U.S. flight (which the current policy calls for by the end of 2011) does not increase the chances they’ll find a terrorist (TSA has never found one).

Pretending that everyone is equally likely to attack us wastes precious resources on low-risk travelers, which just makes us more vulnerable. Unless, and until, we adopt a risk-based airport screening system (i.e., forms of profiling), the TSA will continue to treat everyone as a potential suicide bomber and Americans will continue to be harassed and groped by TSA’s out-of-control screeners.

While private profiling may be justified in some contexts, letting the grope-ocracy have even more discretion doesn’t sound libertarian to me. Poole recognizes the problem is that Americans are currently “harassed and groped by TSA’s out-of-control screeners”; but the solution to this problem is not to give the TSA more discretion to inflict harassment and groping on a vilified subset of the population. (Note that in an LRC post last year, I noted that Poole called on the TSA to increase its use of scanning machines.)

Maybe if we just let fellow libertarians run the TSA, we wouldn’t have these problems.

2:06 pm on December 10, 2010
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