Sales on Airport Security Alternative

TSA officials should focus their airport screening efforts on those who show the highest risk of being terrorists says Professor Nathan Sales. And in order to do that, "they should be allowed to access the basic passenger-reservation data that’s used by U.S. Customs, its sister agency, to screen travelers who are trying to enter the country," he suggests.

Conventional metal detectors are not always capable of spotting weapons made of plastic or liquid explosives, says Sales.

"To find the next generation of bombs, you need the next generation of scanners. Today’s millimeter-wave and backscatter machines are capable of detecting nonmetallic weapons hidden under layers of clothing. They aren’t infallible — no security measure is — but they’re better than entrusting our lives to technology from the 1960s," he argues.

An Airport-Security Alternative, National Review, November 20, 2010. By Nathan A. Sales.

"Modern air travel isn’t exactly glamorous. It’s bad enough that travelers have to wait in interminable lines before being herded into cramped airliners, where they are charged extra to check their bags, only to arrive at their destinations late. The last thing anyone wants is the additional indignity of being fondled by a bureaucrat.

"But it would be unwise to restrict advanced imaging technologies or pat-down searches. TSA’s job is to keep bombs off of planes. It needs to inspect the places bombs might be hidden. And the stark reality is that terrorists aren’t shy about hiding explosives in their nether regions."