At our last general meeting, we decided to post a draft position a week to get feedback and refine the policies we want to implement once we are elected.
Our first draft position is on the TSA, Travel Security and are the better alternatives to naked scanners or groping by TSA employees. Please add your comments so we can improve it. Thanks!
Government should be about serving the people who have voted to create it, and to a limited extent this does happen. Unfortunately there are several obstacles getting in the way. Media corporations have created a climate of systematic disinformation designed to skew voter opinions. Elected officials often feel compelled to sell their decisions in order to keep their jobs. And the cream has not risen to the top, meaning that the people making the decisions may not be experts in their fields. All of these factors have affected TSA security procedures.
Since 2001, we have seen a series of high-profile attempts that each used different methods including box cutters, shoes, shampoo and underwear. Terrorists have constantly innovated. By contrast, the TSA has always reacted to the previous attack, rather than trying to anticipate the next one. They have focused on the objects we are bringing aboard, instead of focusing on the traveler. They are buying expensive equipment rather than hiring qualified personnel. The Israeli approach to security has its own problems but is more effective, emphasizes results rather than theater, and even costs less.
But it’s a mistake to focus primarily on a specific security approach. Just like terrorists, we must constantly adapt our approach. My proposal is to align our security with our values and create a meritocracy that will put results over politics.
- Our values say that security should prevent attacks, should be inexpensive and easy to implement, should respect the privacy of travelers and should not make people late for their planes. We should continually measure our performance against these values.
- Hire terrorism experts and random citizens to invent unexpected new ways to penetrate our security. Regular security audits will consist of trying to get through the system in various ways.
- The effectiveness of security can be objectively measured using the Elo rating system, a mathematical formula that can accurately predict the percentage likelihood that a specific opponent (such as an underwear bomber) will be able to win against the system. The same approach can work for our other values: what is the percentage chance that a traveler will miss her plane or object to security measures?
- Having measured our system, we should publish the ratings (but not the specific details of known security holes.) If there is a 50% chance or higher that an attack can succeed, then we can call it “code red.” If the chance is 10% or higher, “code orange.” Code green could refer to 1% or lower. There should be no political discretion in assigning a threat level.
- Rather than adopting a single national approach with fixed personnel, we should constantly vary everything we do. This will prevent terrorists from being able to anticipate the security they will face. By constantly innovating and experimenting, we can try many new ideas and measure them. In the same way, we should objectively measure our personnel and reassign some of them to roles where they are more effective.
Over time this will lead to a better and less controversial approach. No one will be able to attack our planes. It won’t cost too much. No one will have to miss their flights. No one will have their privacy violated. We will achieve this by aligning our security with our goals and values, rather than with our politics.