By Jacob Sullum
"I just want to be able to go to work and not be harassed or molested," says Michael Roberts. "I'm just not comfortable being physically manhandled...every time I go to work."
So on Friday, he finally took a stand—against the Transportation Security Administration. Roberts, a first officer for ExpressJet Airlines, refused to submit to a full-body scan at the Memphis International Airport.
He also declined the alternative pat-down. Since the TSA would not let him through the security checkpoint without one or the other, he went home. Later he told The Commercial Appeal the TSA is a "make-work" program that does little to enhance the safety of air travel. "I don't believe this approach is a necessary or effective way to mitigate the threat," he says.
The TSA's security theater is especially idiotic in this case. Ostensibly, Roberts was selected for a scan on the off chance that he might be concealing plastic explosives or other nonmetallic weapons beneath his clothing.
But I have to assume that before a guy is hired to fly passengers from city to city, the airline tries to make sure he's not a terrorist. In fact, you would think that not being a terrorist, along with the ability to fly an airplane, would be one of the top qualifications for a job of this sort.
Even if an Al Qaeda sleeper managed to slip onto the payroll, why would he risk smuggling explosives onto a plane when he is already in control of what amounts to a big bomb when properly deployed?
These are just a few of the thoughts that occur to me. But I am not an airline security expert. Or a TSA official.