The outcry among air travelers and civil libertarians over the Transportation Security Administration's new backscatter imaging machines and, shall we say, intimate pat-downs has centered on whether the new policies are too invasive. But it has obscured a more important question: are they effective? The New York Times started an online discussion last week about whether the new body scanners make us safer. Let's continue that discussion here this week, also reflecting on the pat-downs. Should John Pistole, the TSA administrator, continue to defend the changes against critics? Or do we need to completely rethink airline security?
The less-noticed victims of the enhanced screening are everyday aviation and security personnel. How are their daily lives affected? Are we now asking too much of them?