November 20th, 2010
12:15 PM ET

Letters to the President: #670 'Can we have too much security?'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: With one of the busiest travel weeks of the year kicking off, some airline passengers are kicking back at the higher level of airport security - which is what I’m writing about in my daily letter.

Dear Mr. President,

I was thinking the other day about how I’ve never really had an uncomfortable experience with security at an airport. I’ve had plenty of inconveniences, but boo hoo, who cares? We all have to put up with some of that these days as we try to secure ourselves against terrorist threats.

But then I saw a series of photos taken in Denver of the new pat down procedures being used by TSA to check folks out and I thought, “Well, yeah, I can see how this bothers folks.” Hands on crotches. Hands on breasts. Hands in all sorts of places that would get most of us fired on our jobs. And I found myself raising questions.

First, how far is too far? If the goal is true security, why not strip search each passenger, pilot, flight crew, ticket agent, and baggage handler every time he or she comes within 500 feet of a concourse? I know the answer. That would be so invasive that it would create a riot of public backlash, and it would use so much time and labor that the cost would be prohibitive. So, we’ve established that security, while important, is not immune to compromise.

Second, are all airport workers being subjected to these types of searches every day? I know the answer to that too, and it is no. I’m sure the argument is that they have passed some type of security clearance, but we’ve uncovered plenty of spies in some of the most top secret areas of government with very high levels of clearance. Shouldn’t we expect to discover moles in the airport staff some day, too? And wouldn’t they, with their inside knowledge of the system and access to the hardware likely be much more dangerous than a passenger?

And third, would you, your wife and daughters be happy to submit to this? I realize this is a pointless question, because the truth is, you’ll never have to. And that’s kind of the point. What is bothering people, I think, is that suddenly security - which has already been steadily stepping up for years - appears to have taken another big leap and we have no real idea why. Is there some new, terrible threat we’re not being told about? Have you concluded that all past efforts were lame and insufficient? What’s happening?

I think anything you can do to clear up those questions for the public, will also help quiet the fervor.

Hope your weekend is off to a good start. Raking some leaves today. Want to come help? Ha!


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Our military men and women voluntarily go into war to protect Americans and I find it discusting that many don't want to do their part here on the homeland for security purposes. I think many Americans need to go into the war zone of Afghan to see what our men and women give to us or watch when their bodies are returned to their families because they died for you and me. Think about it the next time you think a "pat down" will kill you.

    November 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  2. Beryl

    Just more government control...many innocent people are being harassed, charged and immorally and illegally convicted in this country. There is an inner gustapo within our gov't; we are not safe. There are as many "thugs" working FOR our government as are on the streets. Anyone who has been involved with our judicial system recently is aware of "buyouts" "favoritism" "anything to win a conviction" "once indicted, convicted-whether innocent or not" and out right corruption within the system. Our government makes their own laws and then interprets them for their benefit; they apply to the poor, not the rich.

    November 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm |
  3. Vickie Show Me State

    Maybe, had, Bush taken security to this level. The "TWIN TOWERS" would still be standing! 🙂

    November 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Ronnie

    Thanks Tom – for bringing up this dam foolishness...I'm grateful every day that I don't have to fly – I'll take the bus thank you.

    November 21, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  5. Joseph Leverock

    Airport security measures. In a perfect world we can expect both security and privacy. Today we do not live in perfect world. We must choose our poison either security or poison. We as Americans have arrived at today by our own doing or decision making. This is not to say that we can't overcome and prosper but we are going to have to choose. We cannot complain unless we get involved and make a choice. The choice as americans that we snub our noses at choices such as airport profiling, wire taps(eavesdropping), water boarding, military tribunals, border protection. We would look at the world in the past and we said we have to keep the enemy(terrorists) at bay in a far away land. Well all our well wishing has not worked and now we find that our decisions or lack of have allowed our present day situation which is now a post 9/11 reality. We could have done or supported measures to avoid 9/11 but now we have to choose.

    In my humble opinion,

    Joe Leverock

    November 21, 2010 at 12:15 am |
  6. RB

    Go ahead and profile!
    Common sense should rule.
    The bad guys must be giddy with laughter watching the spectacle we are providing them.
    They are turning Americans against each other.

    The ones who are likely villains should get the full treatment, not a 4 year old American girl with a teddy bear.

    If Muslims feel offended, it's their extremist factions they should blame and not in silence. They need to be way more vocal against terrorist types to be realistic.

    As drunks should be stopped by police for weaving on the road, not everyone else, same for the airports. If the profile fits, stop and test them.

    November 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  7. Nyak Gala

    As a person who is very aware of what evils human beings are capable of doing to each other. I think that there is no such thing as too much security when it comes to the safety of someone who needs to feel safe. I think that this world is full of bad people who may not alwys want to see what is best for another person. It is always better to be safe than sorry. I would never let anyone compromise my safety in any way shape or form. However given the nature for the need of security, they should not take advabtage of people as not everyone is a posed risk. Though when it comes to Airports, night clubs etc. Everyone is subjected to the same level of security at all times. Which helps me feel safe about going to such places because those types of places people are around certain people they do not know and what their plans are or motives etc.

    Security should be done in a professional manner and should never become a grounds to harass people. If one is going to search through someone's things, they should ask that person and state why they are doing so. It should not become as such that a person is feeling attacked by security that is hired to ensure their safety. When good commuincation is used the experience does not have to be a negative one. After all they are there for the safety of us.

    November 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm |