Snakes in the Grass — or the Skies, as the Case May Be

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If you enjoy children’s bickering, head over to Reason Magazine for Radley Balko’s screed against The Nation. Cause of the squabble? Whether Reason or The Nation has opposed the TSA with greater ferocity.

Heck, I’d settle for any ferocity.

No matter: it seems that loathing the TSA is finally fashionable in libertarian—er, free-marketeer—um, well, OK, whatever circle Reason claims to inhabit. To the point that a magazine which has suggested reforming but not — until recently — abolishing the TSA now pretends to have been on the bandwagon the whole time.

This is especially rich when you remember that Robert Poole, founder of Reason’s parent foundation, has long advocated governmental control of transportation. And proudly, too: The tag he supplied to the Washington Times for an article published in April 2009 brags, “Robert Poole … advised members of Congress and the White House on airport security following the Sept. 11 attacks.” And we all know what Our Rulers did with that “advice”: we’re seeing the results with every sexual assault and irradiating ogle at the airports. I don’t know about you, but had I been even remotely responsible for the atrocity that is the TSA, for sure I’d never admit it, let alone boast about it in print.

By the way, Poole’s article is disingenuously titled, “Get the government out of airport screening,” though the author actually argues for leaving it right where it is (editors usually re-write headlines, so Poole may be innocent of this particular offense). His idea for improving the TSA — yes, against all evidence, Reason’s hacks contended for years that the agency could improve if only we gave it the chance — prescribed “letting each airport implement its own procedures under government supervision” and “outsourcing.” We used to call this “fascism,” so it’s no wonder Poole prefers the euphemism, “privatization.”

Meanwhile, his employee longed to “revamp” — not abolish — the TSA. In a piece for Fox News a few years ago, Radley even nominated “three game-changing possibilities to head up TSA,” implying there was little wrong with the agency that competent leadership couldn’t fix. So what if the TSA eviscerates the Fourth Amendment with its warrantless searches? Why balk-o at a little unconstitutionality and tyranny if it means the neocons at Fox News will publish your prattle?

But now that Americans are finally waking up, Radley and Reason’s other sell-outs want us to know they were in the vanguard of the anti-TSA movement. Why, they even published an article (a “cover story”!) clear back in 2004 condemning the TSA!

Radley’s fair enough to give lewrockwell.com and Mises its due. Which surprised me since Reason ignored every query I sent them for articles against the TSA. As did Reason’s current editor-in-chief, Matt Welch, during his stint at the Los Angeles Times. Were Radley, Matt, et al. as opposed to the TSA as they want us to think, you might think they would have responded to a writer trying her hardest to sound the alarm against this vile agency — even if it were only to say, “Becky, thanks, but we can’t use this: our position is that the TSA should be reformed, not abolished.” But no. At least The Nation emailed me a rejection.

Now of course snubbing a would-be contributor who’s on record as opposing the TSA’s very existence doesn’t mean you perforce favor the agency.

Still, those of us who genuinely despise the TSA are vastly amused at the arrivistes’ hypocrisy, tardiness, and chest-thumping.

5:31 pm on December 1, 2010
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