February 23, 2005


Paying the Price for Safety (JIM HALL, 2/23/05, NY Times)

THE Air Transport Association, the lobbying group for the United States airline industry, is loudly protesting legislation backed by the Bush administration to increase a security fee by $3 per flight, to $5.50. At the same time, some Republican leaders in Congress are saying that aviation security should once again be the responsibility of the private sector.

How soon we forget.

On Sept. 11, 2001, America paid a horrible price in part because of flaws in the aviation security system. Now we risk repeating some of the mistakes that led to 9/11.

As a member of the Gore Commission on Aviation Safety and Security in 1996 and 1997, I saw the airline industry lobby against security enhancements that might have prevented 9/11. That was the second time the airline industry fought the recommendations of a presidential commission on safety and security. In 1990, the industry resisted the recommendations of President George H. W. Bush's commission on aviation security and terrorism.

Mr. Hall repeats the fundamental mistake that all those who've looked to assign blame for 9-11 have made--it's not about the airlines; it's about us. Americans are not willing to pay for the kind of safety the experts want.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 23, 2005 6:56 AM

OJ: The inferrence is unwarranted. The American people have not spoken. the airlines have. Now there is a group. They have managed to fly their business into the ground. Why should we take their advice now.

As a matter of policy, I think that aviation saftey and security should be paid for out of user fees, not general revenues. As to what those security measures should be. That is a different issue.

Many experts have argued that TSA focuses on things and not people and that it should profile. I am in favor of ethnic profiling. If your name is Mohammed, expect to get a head to toe x-ray and a colonoscopy whenever you fly.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at February 23, 2005 11:04 AM

Americans are not willing to pay for the illusion of safety the experts want.

And rightly so. As Schwartz points out, the exprerts aren't offering real safety thanks to political timidity.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at February 23, 2005 12:30 PM

I call BS on this. The only truly effective airline security is to whack the Bad Guys. Including anybody (Hi, Pallestinians!) who cheers and dances in the streets when we get attacked.

If we do SERIOUSLY do this a couple of times, we can reduce airport security to aged grandmothers who ask passengers if they remembered to pack an extra set of underwear.

Posted by: fred at February 23, 2005 5:02 PM


How many hijacking attempts have there been on American airlines in the last tenty years?

Posted by: oj at February 23, 2005 5:32 PM