November 17, 2010 10:54AM

The Security Logic Clarifies the Question

A new post on the TSA blog gets the logic behind the strip/​grope combination correct.

[I]f you’re selected for AIT and choose to opt‐​out, we still need to check you for non‐​metallic threats. That’s why a pat‐​down is required. If you refuse both, you can’t fly.

Any alternative allows someone concealing something to decline the strip‐​search machine, decline the intimate pat‐​down, and leave the airport, returning another day in hopes of not being selected for the strip‐​search machine. The TSA reserves the right to fine you $11,000 for declining these searches.

So the question is joined: Should the TSA be able to condition air travel on you permitting someone to look at or touch your genitals?

I’ve argued that the strip/​grope is security excess not validated by risk management. It’s akin to a regulation that fails the “arbitrary and capricious” standard in adminstrative law. But the TSA is not so constrained.