We already know the answer to that question, but the video from Martin Himel at the Wall Street Journal raises an even better question. Which is a greater threat to democracy and personal liberty — asking a few more questions in airport terminals to travelers who fit profiles of higher risk, or TSA’s current approach of random searches based on no data at all and blanket diktats that change with each new incident? It may be a question worth asking, especially given the failure of Western security over the Christmas holiday:

We should keep this in context. The US had its opportunities to keep Umar Abdulmutallab off of Northwest 253, but that failure came at the State Department and CIA, not with TSA. The security process at Schipol is the responsibility of the Dutch government, not the US. Even if TSA turned itself into El Al overnight, that alone would not have prevented the EunuchBomber from getting on board his flight.

But as Americans deal with yet another set of imposed restrictions on millions to prevent a few from attacking, the question above becomes more and more central to our efforts to stop terrorism at home. Theoretically, a Scotch-Irish grandma from Hoboken could carry out a terrorist attack, but in reality, that’s not the threat. Instead of random searches and increasingly onerous restrictions on law-abiding people, wouldn’t it make more sense to screen everyone lightly and screen those who fit profiles for higher risk a little more thoroughly? Would that not apply the proper resources where they will do the most good, while treating everyone — everyone — less like a criminal? And wouldn’t that negate what the terrorists have attempted to do, which is to make us too frightened to exercise our freedoms?

Update: Morgen at Verum Serum has a scoop on what TSA and DHS missed this summer.