There is certainly a great deal of discussion, legislation, and press coverage on the subject of screening. Be it people, cargo containers or luggage. Certainly screening of people and things are a valuable tool in our effort to protect the homeland. However, picking a number or percentage and letting that drive the amount of screening we do certainly drives the cost … but does it make us safer?
Whether talking about 100% or 50% or 10% screening, the larger the percentage the larger the cost in equipment and staff. However, I would ask 2 questions: What are we screening for and, and is the cost a sound investment in the most effective strategy?
Here’s a novel idea from an old retired guy: Let’s trust the law enforcement, intelligence analysts and the screeners to do what they are trained to do. Certainly there are lots of smart people that have great ideas, but I suggest we let the cops (like FBI and ICE) coupled with the intel folks (like CIA and DHS) assess the threats, the methods of potential delivery systems (that might be used against us), etc., then pass this information to well-trained people in CBP and TSA so that they can jointly determine the amount and type of screening needed (ranging from 100% to random) based on the threat and not some arbitrary quota dreamed up by politicians who have little understanding of national security operations.
Let’s face it, the homeland security and law enforcement groups have done a darn good job during a constantly evolving time in our nation’s history. Maybe some continued trust and not micromanaging by dictating percentages is deserved. If allowed to do their jobs, they may just continue to save our lives and spend only the amount of money necessary to do so.
While I’m on my soapbox, let me close with a thought for the day. Instead of dictating what they should do (screen X number of cargo containers or bags or passengers, for instance), why not ask them, the ones on the front lines, what they need to do their jobs effectively and safely. And then let’s prepare budgets around those needs. Wouldn’t that be better than telling them what they need – whether they do or not – and throwing money at them, whether they need it or not?