Liberty, Security, and Terrorism

The recent terrorist attack in Moscow, which resulted in the death of over 30 people and the injury of about 100 others, ought to compel Americans to revisit some important questions concerning the true value of airport security procedures in the US, which require travelers to put their individual rights aside in the name of safety. Namely, is the cost worth the alleged benefit?

As most of us are aware, the TSA has been audacious enough to offer us a choice between two different styles of 4th Amendment violations when traveling on commercial airlines. Our first option is the body scanners, which supposedly do not emit harmful levels of radiation (although this claim has been a subject of significant controversy) and which supposedly cannot store or transmit images of our naked bodies (although this has been found to be false).

Our second option is the “enhanced pat down procedure,” with its chilling rhetorical similarity to the term “enhanced interrogation technique,” which altogether may lead us to the conclusion that the word “enhanced” has become a public relations code word for “excessive.” Last, but certainly not least, following suit to the modern trend of the inversion of the most basic tenant of our nation’s justice system, “innocent until proven guilty,” we are subject to the punishment of an $11,000 fine in the event of noncompliance with these procedures upon being “randomly selected” to undergo them.

The terrorist attack in Moscow should demonstrate to us that the security measures of the TSA, in addition to being an abhorrently mismanaged transgression of our fundamental rights, are not effective in the prevention of terrorist attacks launched against airline travelers. This is where insult is added to injury – the claim to virtue offered to us, that these sacrifices are necessary in order to keep us safe, is fruitless. It will always be possible for a suicide bomber to kill bystanders in a multitude of different settings. No amount of liberty trampling security procedures can preclude this.

The event in Russia is a perfect example of why it is absolutely crucial for us to never tolerate the violation of our civil liberties in the name of security – because more often than not, the sense of security we acquire by these means is false.

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