I’m intrigued, not because I think it’s fair to bankrupt some poor schlub trying to pay his bills by patting down crotches on government orders for 15 bucks an hour but because lifting their immunity might cause a full-scale revolt among personnel, thereby forcing TSA brass to change the policy. Besides, read this horror story at CBS or the surreal encounter Erick Erickson wrote about today at Red State. The system needs a common-sense jolt, and forcing screeners to take think carefully about every patdown would provide one.

It’s a nonstarter politically, though, isn’t it? Mark Krikorian:

Kick the Bureaucrat is a game conservatives love to play, and sometimes it’s justified, but this time it isn’t. The problem is the policy that the White House and its minions have instructed their subordinates in the civil service to carry out. And it’s not just the Obama folks; Bush insisted on this non-profiling approach, and Republicans ran Congress for four years after 9/11 and supinely permitted it.

I just heard Ann Coulter make this very point today, at David Horowitz’s shindig in Palm Beach (hey, a third-stringer like me can’t sneak onto the NR cruise, but this is a pretty good alternative!). Anyway, Ann said that the TSA people are actually big fans of hers, but they’ve been told to follow certain procedures, so what are they supposed to do? (She also suggested that everyone being groped should make “sex noises,” like in the “I’ll have what she’s having” scene in When Harry Met Sally.) Ironically, Ann’s fan base in TSA is likely due to the Democrats’ insistence that the function not be outsourced to private firms; this has meant that the TSA screeners are overwhelmingly Americans, often former military — almost the only Americans working at the big airports I’ve been to.

Float a bill making TSA institutionally liable for “outrageous” searches and you’ll have wide public support. Float a bill making Joe Junktoucher, TSA screener, personally liable and you might actually make the public more complacent about patdowns since most people don’t want to see some middle-class civil servant punished for enforcing bad policy. In that case, if your crank gets yanked, instead of complaining you might wonder how many kids the yanker has and decide not to make a fuss. There’s got to be a better way.

Update: Sympathy for the devil via Ward Sloane:

I love the TSA because I think it has the most impossible mandate of any government agency. It must be right 100 percent of the time. Terrorists only have to be right once…

TSA and its security officers are now maligned as “big brother” gone mad for people’s “junk.” Excuse me, and this is not a scientific poll, but I suspect that if you polled all TSA security officers – that is, the airport screeners making an average of about $32,000 a year, you won’t find a lot of them who want to touch other people’s “junk.” I am fairly certain they’d just as soon let someone through as pat down their “junk.” Think about it.

Update: Palin’s got a slightly different idea from Paul’s. Let the media freakout begin!

TSA: why politically incorrect 2 “profile” anyone re: natl security issues?we profile individuals/suspects in other situations! profile away

Update: The plural of “anecdote” is not “data,” but for what it’s worth, not all junk-touchers are happy about the touching. Note well, Ron Paul:

“It is not comfortable to come to work knowing full well that my hands will be feeling another man’s private parts, their butt, their inner thigh. Even worse is having to try and feel inside the flab rolls of obese passengers and we seem to get a lot of obese passengers!”…

“Molester, pervert, disgusting, an embarrassment, creep. These are all words I have heard today at work describing me, said in my presence as I patted passengers down. These comments are painful and demoralizing, one day is bad enough, but I have to come back tomorrow, the next day and the day after that to keep hearing these comments. If something doesn’t change in the next two weeks I don’t know how much longer I can withstand this taunting. I go home and I cry. I am serving my country, I should not have to go home and cry after a day of honorably serving my country.”