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TSA Is Overreacting: Our Bomb Risk Is 'Near Zero'

We're actually doing exactly what the terrorists want, writes Jim Harper
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 24, 2010 12:32 PM CST
TSA Is Overreacting: Our Bomb Risk Is 'Near Zero'
A traveler is patted down by a TSA agent at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Monday, Nov. 22, 2010.   (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

(Newser) – Are the TSA's new security procedures reasonable in the face of new terrorist threats, or an overreaction? An overreaction, concludes privacy expert Jim Harper—and that's exactly what the terrorists want. The better approach would have been "no change to domestic air security from the status quo of a year ago," Harper writes on Politico, especially since our actual risk is almost nonexistent: "In 99 million domestic flights over the past decade ... there have been zero bombs snuck on to planes and detonated. (The one failed attempt came from overseas.)"

Harper advocates "risk acceptance," arguing that we can tolerate a small amount of risk "if prison-style searching of innocent American travelers is the alternative." Washington wants to create a zero-risk situation, but nothing in life is without risk, and "it would take a lot of successful attacks" to make flying riskier than driving. It would be more effective for the government to level with us about specific threats, he concludes, rather than constantly "touting threat in the abstract and promising perfect security." (A new threat level alert system may be a step in that direction—click here for more.)

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