“Don’t touch my junk” may be the cri de coeur – cri de crotch? – of the post-9/11 world, but it’s an awfully childish one. We let people touch our junk all the time in medical settings. Yes, the technician who performs my mammogram has more professional training than your average TSA agent, but she is also a lot more up close and personal than a quick once-over with a gloved hand. I undergo the mammogram for my personal benefit; I don’t know if there is a suspicious mass, whereas I know there are no explosives sewn into my underwear. I undergo the pat-down, if I must, for the greater public benefit. It is an unfortunate part of the modern social contract…

Let’s also leave aside any questions of constitutionality or fundamental fairness about terrorist profiling and simply consider whether it could be done effectively. The Israeli approach is an alluring mirage that would not withstand transplantation. Israel has two airports and 50 flights a day. It conducts intrusive background checks and questions passengers extensively. The process can take hours.

Profiling based on assumptions – that innocent-looking grannies or blond, blue-eyed teens pose no threat – seems guaranteed to produce disaster as terrorists exploit these preconceptions. At which point, the fingers will be pointed at government officials who were not intrusive enough.