A Modest (Passenger-Screening) Proposal

It seems that TSA allows some government officials to skip airport security. That’s fair enough; they’re probably trustworthy individuals, even if I wouldn’t want to have a beer with them or invite them to my home.

In their trustworthiness lies the solution to the screening brouhaha. Well, almost. Democrats aren’t trustworthy because they hang out with the likes of Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. (Belated repudiations don’t count.)

So, let’s start with high-ranking Republican officials. A good place to start would be with the 290 or so Republican members of the next Congress, the one that will convene in January. Let’s allow each of them to name 20 other trustworthy U.S. citizens. Assuming a duplication rate of 50 percent, the net result would be a list of 2,900 trustworthy persons (290 x 10). If each of them names 20 other trustworthy persons (of whom half are duplicates), the next round produces a list of 29,000 persons. The next round produces 290,000; the next, 2,900,000; and the next 29,000,000.

If, along the way, some of the Republicans name Democrats who are trustworthy — which is possible, I suppose — the next round would bring the total to 290,000,000 trustworthy persons. That’s certainly more than the number of U.S. citizens who would want to fly on a commercial aircraft.

So, in a matter of seven rounds, which should take only a few months to complete, TSA could have a list of all the citizens who don’t need to be screened for flights leaving the U.S. or bound for the U.S. Everyone else (in the U.S. or abroad) would have to endure a body scan, pat-down, or whatever else TSA can dream up to make them uncomfortable. Foreign-based flights wouldn’t be allowed to land in the U.S. unless passengers not on the trustworthy list are screened under TSA supervision.

P.S. To ensure that individuals give some thought to the trustworthiness of the persons they name, there would be a harsh penalty attached to the naming of a person who commits, or tries to commit, a terrorist act on an airplane or in an airport. The penalty? The prominent publication via the internet of the irresponsible person’s body scan — front, sides, and back — accompanied by the person’s mug shot and home address.