Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Does this mean we can have real forks again?

Hat tip to the brilliant (no exaggeration) John Wesley Hall for this. He writes in his Fourth Amendment blog that Homeland Security is considering requiring all airline passengers to wear an electronic ID bracelet with a - wait for it - built in taser. Sarcastic post title aside, this has me seriously ticked off.

This might reveal my September 10 way of thinking, but why should I trust an airline employee with the power to incapacitate an entire flight? Wouldn't this only force the "terrorists" - whoever they may be - to pose as a members of a flight crew? We already put up with airline security measures that range from the sensible (like scanning electronics) to the completely ridiculous (like taking off our shoes). Now, they expect to wear little ID bracelets with the power to injure us?

I try not to get political in this space, but there are clearly legal ramifications about this. It is almost inevitable that these bracelets will malfunction at some point - who will be liable for that? The airline? DHS? The manufacturer? What kind of training will these people have? And how can we trust that these things will only be used to deal with real security issues, and not on some drunk guy who wants an another Tom Collins?

And there are some real constitutional issues here as well. Take it out of the air travel context - could the government force its citizens to wear a portable taser generally? Of course not - so why is air travel that much different? Because it is seems to be the only answer.

This is a slightly ranty post, but I am angry.