The Problem With Airport Security

The latest report on airline security is both horrifying and hilarious.

I went through security four times this past weekend while hustling around the country. So the story on the front page that airport security personnel weren't catching guns and knives came as no real surprise.

For instance, while I was holding the paper today, walking toward the jetway door to board the plane, I looked to my left — to the table where the random security checks are done — and saw a 60-ish Anglo woman getting the big time going-over that people are subjected to when their names pop up on a computerized selection list.

(You can tell when you've been selected by looking for a highlighter mark on your boarding pass. This means that a computer has picked you out, and that at the entryway to the jet, you will be pulled aside for one last search.)

I've gotten this treatment twice. They make you take off your belt again, they go through any carry-on bags thoroughly. They make you take off your shoes to look for fuses... and so on.

I was wearing cowboy boots, which had been worn in some horse stalls quite recently, but these security people were fearless. They turned 'em upside down, looked down where my feet go, inspected what was stuck on the heel. (And I even warned 'em where I'd been wearing 'em.)

But the point is this: The computer picked me, and the computer picked the little old lady, and the security checkers had to mark us off on a computer list they'd been given.

Did the computer look at this lady, and say: Better check her? No.

Did it look at me? No.

Did it look at the four off-duty cops who were checked just before me, on their way to a law enforcement seminar? No.

Did the computer look at the people who were carrying knives and guns? No.

So it's no wonder the airports are failing. My suspicion is the Feds are not allowed to profile by race or ethnicity, or age, or gender, or suspicion-causing beady eyes.

As a result, little old ladies and off-duty cops and goofball TV types end up emptying their shoes, while somebody else any professional cop would look at twice walks on by.

The moral of this story? Don't send a computer to do a human being's job.

That's My Word.

What do you think? We'd like to hear from you, so send us your comments at Some of your emails will be featured on the air or on our site.