If you’ve ever flown with young kids — alone, Lord help you — you know that, next to the drinks cart coming around, going through security is the most stressful part of the trip. Especially if you decided to wear sneakers. Especially if the mini-entourage decided to wear sneakers.
Pulling off the shoes — “no! You can keep your socks on, sweetheart!” — is manageable. It’s the point where you’re collecting the computers and iPads and purses while corralling kids and keeping them from dropping to the floor, right there, to put the shoes they don’t know how to tie back on. All while the crowd behind you shoves its way forward.
Okay, so good news. Almost good news.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said yesterday that shoe removal will be one of the first things to go as new security technology comes online in the near — but undefined — future. Liquids, though? That will be one of the last things to go, so drink up before you get on board.
Here’s what she told Politico:
“We are moving towards an intelligence and risk-based approach to how we screen,” Napolitano told Mike Allen during a morning forum at the Newseum. “I think one of the first things you will see over time is the ability to keep your shoes on. One of the last things you will [see] is the reduction or limitation on liquids.”
What’s not clear is what kind of technology is coming along to replace shoe-removal. New full-body scanners have been criticized — though tacitly accepted — for invading privacy, etc. They’re also expensive.
Some have criticized Napolitano’s department recently for refusing to submit to a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, is all this investment and relinquishing of privacy rights — and allowing our toddlers and incontinent grannies to be given full-body pat-downs — worth it in terms of ensuring our security? Or is it just smoke-and-mirrors meant to make us feel safer (and like the government has done something)?
Even those who proposed some of the heightened security measures are openly critical. From the same Politico story:
Some experts have warned that the federal bureaucracy often add layers of precautions but rarely goes back and takes a hard look at whether they’re necessary.
“When we implemented that three-ounce liquids ban in the summer of 2006, did I think that would be a forever thing? No,” Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend told POLITICO recently. “It has to do with the complacency and laziness of the bureaucracy.”