No one wants to be groped in order to board an airplane or go through a body scan that will cause exposure to radiation (although the level of danger is subject to a hot debate).
And it doesn't help public opinion that bigwigs like John Boehner, Barack Obama and airline pilots can bypass both -- and many of the super rich avoid such intrusive security searches by flying their private or corporate jets. Furthermore, BuzzFlash has documented how the profiteering of former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff played a key role in the government purchase of the euphemistically named "Advanced Imaging Technology."
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the current outrage -- while personally understandable -- against the Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) intrusive technology and pat-downs just happens to fit the anti-government narrative of both the Tea Party and mainstream Republicans in Congress.
The creation of the TSA was held up even under the Bush
administration because Tom DeLay was insisting that the security
function for airports be privatized. So, it's of little surprise that
conservative Republican Congressman John Mica, who will likely become
the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,
is advocating for -- you guessed it -- the privatization of TSA functions.
As a blog entry in Crooks and Liars notes: "Republicans want to use the recent outrage over the aggressive screening tactics being used by the TSA at airports as an excuse to privatize it. As Steve Benen noted this weekend, that of course doesn't solve the problem and just brings with it a whole new set of concerns."
The Bush administration shamelessly used fear as a means of exploiting concerns about flying -- and a small group of terrorists are, it appears, interested in bringing down planes. But to blame the government for trying to protect airlines passenger is likely only happening because we have a Democratic president -- and it perfectly fits the Republican "intrusive government" narrative.
Perhaps, it is no coincidence that the Federal Labor Relations Authority just gave the green light on November 12 of this year to allow TSA workers to hold a union representation vote, which would likely lead to collective bargaining. This is another motivation for the Republicans and the likes of the Tea Party to gin up anti-TSA hysteria.
There are ample reasons for the TSA to reconsider its unpalatable security procedures, but privatizing the function would just be another anti-government victory and a setback for the labor movement. More importantly, we are likely to be more at risk when we fly if profit is the only motive for "safety in the skies."