Remember after the 9/11 attacks when we were told that life would never be the same again?
Well, that certainly has proved to be true — and you don’t have to look far to see evidence of it, judging by recent problems regarding the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at U.S. airports.
As has been reported profusely in the media, airline passengers have been waiting for three or four hours at a time to get through screening procedures — causing angry feelings and missed flights. This has prompted a recent reference to the initials TSA as “Thousands Standing Around.”
As does everything else, the TSA controversy has become a political football in Congress, where some Republicans are calling for privatization of the agency that is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, TSA defenders say its screeners are doing what the law requires, and that one of the problems is insufficient space at airports to allow additional security checkpoints or other infrastructural improvements which would remedy the long lines.
Aggravating the situation even more is the fact so many more people are flying — creating just another mob scene for consumers to contend with, which seems to be the case with virtually every activity we engage in nowadays.
Yet the situation with the Transportation Security Administration is just one part of a bigger issue which gets back to that notion of life never being the same after 9/11 — especially if we allow it to be that way.
To underscore all this, the Sept. 11 attacks and the accompanying “war on terror” have cost American taxpayers $4 trillion to date, according to a recent article by James Bovard in Reason, a magazine with a Libertarian slant.
More than $70 billion of that total, Bovard wrote, can be attributed to the TSA and its legion of 45,000 screeners, along with devices such as the “whole body scanner” passengers must pass through at 400-plus U.S. airports.
Other huge sums spent in the war on terrorism have included the creation of the Homeland Security Department itself, mass-surveillance programs (which have a price tag of a half-trillion dollars) and the military actions we’ve waged, Bovard points out.
And despite such financial outlays, it can be argued that terrorism is an even bigger problem today than it was in 2001, as evidenced by the growth of groups such as ISIS.
So in the absence of eradicating terrorism, it looks as if the only thing the government has accomplished is providing a layer of bureaucracy that pushes around our own people at airports and invades their privacy with email and other communications.
Here again, if the main goal of Osama bin Laden and other Islamic jihadists who masterminded the 9/11 attacks was to destroy Western infidels by bankrupting us and disrupting our way of life, I would say they are succeeding.
Not only have they cost us trillions, but we have not heeded President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advice when he warned Americans not to be fearful of fear itself.
Airport security is a part of the equation that poses a unique dilemma, because if some madman — or madwoman — somehow smuggled a bomb aboard a jetliner, everyone would wonder why the TSA didn’t do its job.
It’s safe to say that in retrospect, the 66 people recently killed in the EgyptAir plane crash and their loved ones left behind might not have minded a four-hour wait in a screening line if it would’ve prevented this disaster.
The big question is, HOW MUCH inconvenience and dehumanization are we willing to endure with often-rude TSA screeners intrusively searching our belongings and our persons — to offset the slim chance someone might try to bring an explosive device onto a plane?
I, for one, would prefer a little less security and a little more freedom, not being treated like a criminal just because I want to take a trip or attend a football game.
As Benjamin Franklin stated in 1755, “those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
And if we go around being afraid of our own shadows and a boogeyman that likely isn’t there, aren’t we playing right into the terrorists’ hands when it comes to ruining our way of life which they intended on 9/11?
With everything that’s occurring, I would suggest an alternate meaning for the letters TSA, other than “Thousands Standing Around”:
“Terrorists Stymie America” seems more appropriate.
Tom Joyce is a staff writer for The Mount Airy News. He may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.