Tag: transporation

Schneier and Friends on Fixing Airport Security

Security guru Bruce Schneier comes down on the strictly pragmatic side in this essay called “Fixing Airport Security.” Because of terrorism fears, he says, TSA checkpoints are “here to stay.” The rules should be made more transparent. He also argues for an amendment to some constitutional doctrines:

The Constitution provides us, both Americans and visitors to America, with strong protections against invasive police searches. Two exceptions come into play at airport security checkpoints. The first is “implied consent,” which means that you cannot refuse to be searched; your consent is implied when you purchased your ticket. And the second is “plain view,” which means that if the TSA officer happens to see something unrelated to airport security while screening you, he is allowed to act on that. Both of these principles are well established and make sense, but it’s their combination that turns airport security checkpoints into police-state-like checkpoints.

The comments turn up an important recent Fourth Amendment decision circumscribing TSA searches. In a case called United States v. Fofana, the district court for the southern district of Ohio held that a search of passenger bags going beyond what was necessary to detect articles dangerous to air transportation violated the Fourth Amendment. “[T]he need for heightened security does not render every conceivable checkpoint search procedure constitutionally reasonable,” wrote the court.

Application of this rule throughout the country would not end the “police-state-like checkpoint,” but at least rummaging of our things for non-air-travel-security would be restrained.

I prefer principle over pragmatism and would get rid of TSA.

Thursday Podcast: ‘It’s Not High Speed Rail’

President Obama’s stimulus plan included about $8 billion for “high-speed rail” projects throughout the country.

But what Obama has in mind isn’t anything like the Japanese trains that have been clocked at over 300 miles per hour, says Cato Senior Fellow Randal O’Toole in Thursday’s Cato Daily Podcast. At best, it’s “moderate-speed rail,” and won’t include an interconnected network that will allow passenger transportation from coast to coast.

For more on American rail projects, check out O’Toole’s Policy Analysis, High-Speed Rail: The Wrong Road for America.