Today's speculation will hit at least two of those goals. So, without further ado, here is my current line of thought on the TSA sexual assault policy:
1. The goal of thwarting terrorism (by non-governmental employees, that is) is the last and least motivation for any of this or previous modes of screening. Get real. The goal of the government is to intimidate, harass, humiliate and condition its subjects. Yes, I said subjects.
Why, timman, would the government want to do this? What possible benefit can it derive? Good questions, noble reader, which I will attempt to answer. A populace that will submit to such indignities as these in order to engage in what is basic to a free society will submit to other indignities for other basic activities. People who do not stand up for the integrity of their own bodies, who allow themselves to be stripped, groped, searched and treated as criminals for the privilege to fly in a pressurized metal tube and eat 2 oz. of peanuts will submit to anything. The government won't need to waterboard us to get us to comply with its program of the day.
If for some reason this strip-or-be-groped policy stands (which I believe it won't, see below), then look for the practice to spread to other modes of travel. After all, the porno-scanner companies can make lots and lots of machines, and the Fed can print all the dollars necessary to buy them. Right now, you can take a relaxing train trip to Phoenix, for example, and almost forget that we live in a nascent police state. No idiotic and demeaning security procedures. Some degree of human service. How long will that last, I wonder? Then Greyhound. And then, after our government betters heroically save us from some truck filled with explosives on I-70 JUST. IN. THE. NICK. OF. TIME!, we can look forward to "TSA Welcome Centers" on the interstates. After all, far more people travel by means of these federally-financed arteries than do fly. We are so, so vulnerable to attack there. Right?
In the end, one of the great hallmarks of the classic police state will be achieved without much fuss: the tight control over purely domestic travel. All to keep us
2. What the government really fears is the widespread rejection of its control that is exemplified in this story. Private security procedures that are run, or at least controlled by, the very companies and airports that have a vested interest in satisfied, free human customers, will actually have the goal to prevent planes from being blown up-- it is bad for business, you see. An airline, an airport, does not benefit from a terrorist attack. But the TSA does. It receives further justification for its existence, and further funding for expansion. It is quite simple, really. The question cui bono?-- who benefits?-- should be asked when thinking of any of this. If anything gets the TSA to back off of the strip/grope plan, it is the fear that airports and airlines will take their ball and go away. That cannot be allowed to happen.
3. Finally, I think that this whole strip/grope policy and the outcry over it are part of a conscious plan by DHS with two possible outcomes, either of which are positive for it. They want to see to what lengths we will submit. If the peep-show were meekly accepted, great. If we allowed ourselves and our families to be fondled by government-employed perverts, even better. That is serf-conditioning. But, hey, lots of us aren't submitting to it. We win, right? Well, in a limited sense, yes, but I think the pilot union "rebellion" against the porno-scanners portends the real endgame of TSA: biometric screening and database accumulation.
Right now, according to the National Journal, pilots and the TSA are in talks to substitute a biometrics screening process for the strip-or-grope. What is this? The government will take your fingerprint(s) and iris scan and keep a computerized database with all of the information it sees fit to maintain, so it can easily track your movements and decide if you are "safe" to fly. Of course, this could never be abused to allow it to prevent political opponents from flying, or to allow them to monitor where you are in the country at all times.
Imagine, if you will, that the porno-scanners never existed. No groping. But the TSA announces that, in order to fly, all passengers will have to have their fingerprints taken and irises scanned to create a permanent electronic database that any government official anywhere at anytime could access. I would have formerly supposed that the outcry at this would have exceeded anything we see now. After all, what right does the government have to do this?
But now, I am afraid that such a scheme will be presented as a "win" for citizens who triumphed over being sexually assaulted in order to fly. Taking an iris scan is not immodest. It is quick and painless. It will be presented, and I fear also received, as a reasonable alternative to what we have now. If this is the goal of the TSA in the current situation, it is fairly brilliant.
Or look at it in a different way. Let's say, after 9/11, some brilliant bureaucrat opined that it would be nice if every single person in the U.S. were forced to provide the government with their fingerprints and iris map so they could be monitored. No way, though, we could get that done. Right? But if this is applied to airport security, over time, it would get done. Then again, extend the process to Amtrak, buses, and interstate travel generally. That will get practically everybody.
Hence, without ever holding an actual "card", we will have a de facto national ID card.
Maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. But isn't that what speculation is all about?