FlyerTalk Forums - View Single Post - President proposes increasing taxes on air tickets to pay for security
Old Jan 29, 05, 3:41 am
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 8,386
Originally Posted by bocastephen
I am very troubled by any TSA mindset that considers passenger convenience, comfort, or respect to be something dangerous to the process or an annoying inconvenience that we should 'get over'. WE the passengers are PAYING the security fee, therefore the fee should be used to both enhance security and benefit us in balance. It is OUR money.
I respect that view. Allow me to elaborate. The security I am most familiar with is rooted in my military background. I have over 20 years experience dealing mostly with the type of security used to counter attempts by hostile intelligence services to acquire classified information through open source research, exploitation of certain international data exchange agreements and espionage. My other areas of expertise also dealt with the protection of facilities from international terrorism, hostile military special purpose forces attacks and domestic criminal activities. I come from a background inwhich security is a very serious matter.

At TSA, we either provide security or we do not. Security, by definition, means inconvenience. It is designed to slow down entry into any protected facility to allow for increased scrutiny to both deter attempts by less determined foes and increase the challenges to more determined ones. Within this same context, security can be performed either wisely or foolishly. This is why, from time to time, I will get on my soap box about risk management as opposed to risk avoidance.

Risk avoidance is the easier of the two. Simply take the attitude of assuming that even the most trivial threat is a serious one, and you'll have an easy go at it. Risk management is the trickier yet smarter choice. It means accepting the fact that some threats can be mitigated based on a realistic assessment of likelihood as opposed to the impractical fear of the theoretical potential. I'm a strong believe in risk management.

TSA is not. Not yet, at least. Most of our TSA policies lean towards risk avoidance. I believe the middle ground still exists where the pendulum could certainly swing more towards risk avoidance. The reality is that most bureaucracies tend to shy away from this philosophy simply because it allows a lot of discretion by folks at the ground level. It has to. And TSA is not yet ready to allow its employees that much latitude and judgment. However, if we are to have a professional force providing world class security, I don't see how TSA can continue to resist this approach.

Go back and read what I posted. I think before any more money is charged to you the paying customer or to all of us taxpayers, a sound cost-benefit analysis needs to be performed to ensure that we're currently getting the most bang for our buck. I criticized basing decisions purely on customer convenience because if that's all we're using these new technologies for, then we are seriously violating some pretty fundamental security principles. Whatever is convenient for the customers is also convenient for the terrorists. The challenge is to find a reasonable balance that inconveniences law abiding passengers up to a certain degree yet deters terrorists and others who would pose a threat to commercial aviation. I agree with you that if we go to an extreme, then we will end up driving passengers away from flying. That, of course, is not the reasonable balance I'm looking for.

TSA still has a lot more work to do. Throwing money around for the sake of appearing to be doing something is not a step in the right direction.
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