Eight Air-Security Myths
Why the TSA’s new policies won’t make us safer.


6. If we fail to search children and grandmothers, terrorists will simply enlist them in their plots.

Yes, terrorists would gleefully wire kids and grannies. And one Palestinian granny already has blown herself up, albeit not while flying or attempting to fly. But finding willing suicide-bomber elders in civilized countries is well-nigh impossible. Were it easy, it would have been done already. As for kids, instead of mauling them, our security screeners should scrutinize the elders traveling with them, as Israel does. Remember that every time a security screener searches a zero-risk flier, that screener is not available to search someone who may pose a real risk.

7. Terrorists don’t fit any profile; watching out for Muslims does not work, because Johnny and Jane Jihad might look like us.

True, we cannot identify all Muslims by looking at them. But another form of profiling does work: behavioral profiling. Johnny and Jane are no better at eluding expert scrutiny than are Abdul and Aisha.

8. Americans won’t tolerate profiling.

Does anyone really believe that Americans, if given a choice between intimate patdowns and Israel-style interviews, would choose being groped?

The bottom line is that Israel’s methods work. Instead of having ill-trained TSA agents search for bad things, have well-trained agents search for bad people. Profile by behavior and circumstance (cash ticket, one-way trip, etc.), and leave most of us alone. Compile accurate no-fly lists. Heed credible warnings. Ignore political correctness.

Instead, Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano reportedly has two more Bright Ideas: unionizing TSA employees and special reduced screening for Muslims in traditional garb. The former, rejected when the Department of Homeland Security was established, would make it harder to fire incompetent employees. The latter would have the unintended impact of so enraging most Americans that they will insist lawmakers make TSA apply uniform rules.

Israel’s skies have been friendly for 42 years. Not a bad record. We should learn from it.

— John C. Wohlstetter is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, a trustee of the Hudson Institute, author of The Long War Ahead and the Short War Upon Us, and founder of the blog Letter From the Capitol