November 16th, 2010
12:45 PM ET

Letters to the President: #666 'Security alert'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: This is my 666th letter to President Obama. It didn’t strike me until I wrote the number how that might appear to some folks, but what the heck…to me, it’s just the next one in the sequence; although I am feeling a little devilish.

Dear Mr. President,

The current uproar over airport security did not really catch my attention at first. I travel enough that I have just taken it for granted that I will have to be scanned, patted, frisked, battered and deep fried any time I board a plane. But clearly a lot of other people feel that it is going too far. And the more I listen to them, the more I see their point.

I mean, if security is all that matters, why not ban all carry-ons, strip search every passenger, and handcuff us all to our seats? Certainly we’re not going to go that far, but how far is far enough when dealing with cunning adversaries who know no limits?

The frustration for many people, I think, comes down to this: While we try to answer that question we are imposing all sorts of inconveniences and embarrassments on millions of folks who have nothing to do with terrorism. So a family from Idaho on the way to Disneyland has to endure pat downs, see-through scans, and their belongings being pawed in front of dozens of strangers; then they make it to the boarding area only to see a debate on TV over how our security forces must not profile young men from Yemen who’ve spent the last year at an undisclosed location in Waziristan.

That’s an exaggeration, but not much. And you can see how that drives folks crazy.

Here is another question: How is it possible in this day and time for anyone’s luggage to ever be lost? Shouldn’t it be a major security breach if any airline at any moment can’t specifically tell you where your bag is and who is in charge of it? After all, if something turns up bad in my bags - like a loaded toner cartridge - you’re going to have some tough questions for me, and I should be able to have just as tough questions for the people who took the bag from me in the first place. And yet, I can’t recall hearing of a single airline shutting down its “lost baggage” department.

I know I’m prattling a bit, but in the rarified air that lawmakers breathe, where they are often escorted around the lines, treated with kid gloves, and steered carefully away from the ugliness of modern air travel, I think it is awfully easy for you folks to forget what the rest of us are facing every time we just want to go visit grandma.

We have to be safe, to be sure. But if we give up too much of the freedoms we know in the name of safety, in a way, the terrorists have already won, haven’t they?

Hope all is well. Call if you can.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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