Good reading for your holiday plane ride: Businessweek's studious indictment of the Transportation Security Administration and the entire post-9/11 homeland security apparatus.
According to the story, the TSA does little but suck the joy out of air travel while it consumes government money in amounts far out of proportion to the threats it's designed to address.
Meanwhile, writes author Charles Kenny of the Center for Global Development and the New America Foundation, the TSA has never once prevented a terrorist from boarding an airliner.
But the TSA is just one element in the author's sights. His main target is the homeland security establishment that was born in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and has so far -- and counting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- cost the U. S. $3.1 trillion. Meanwhile, he says, terrorists have killed fewer Americans since 2001 than die in their bathtubs every year.
What could be worse than that? The TSA may actually be killing us:
The inconvenience of air travel is pushing more people onto the roads. Compare the dangers of air travel to those of driving. To make flying as dangerous as using a car, a four-plane disaster on the scale of 9/11 would have to occur every month, according to analysis published in the American Scientist. Researchers at Cornell University suggest that people switching from air to road transportation in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks led to an increase of 242 driving fatalities per month—which means that a lot more people died on the roads as an indirect result of 9/11 than died from being on the planes that terrible day.
TSA continued its vigilance at Miami International Airport this week, making sure that Beyonce's sister's wig cannot hurt us. Elsewhere, in what the Washington Post characterizes as a "major image problem," hundreds of TSA agents and employees, including several dozen at one Florida airport, have been fired or disciplined for "screening violations."