Back on May 7th, Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano tried to downplay criticism of the TSA’s invasive, humiliating pat down procedures by saying “very, very, very” few people actually get pat downs.
Napolitano suggested that the pat downs were only controversial because the few people who do get patted down usually end up on YouTube (darn that internet and the free exchange of information!):
“Will we go past the grope-and-grab phase?” a luncheon attendee asked Napolitano. “The machines that scan the bodies and so forth? Are there better ways of doing it?”
“Well, actually, very, very, very few people get a pat-down,” Napolitano replied. “It’s only under very limited circumstances. They do, however, get — those who are patted down — tend to get on YouTube.” she quipped.
The problem with Napolitano’s comments is that her definition of “very, very, very few people” is a lot different than the rest of us. You see, according to the TSA about 3% of people get the pat down. There are about 2,000,000 people who go through TSA check points every day. That adds up to a lot of people:
The TSA’s Allen told us that “on an average day, about 2 million people are screened at TSA checkpoints.” Three percent of 2 million is 60,000 people.
That means that over the course of a month, roughly 1.8 million people receive a pat-down. That’s more than four times the population of Atlanta.
That doesn’t sound like “very, very, very” few people to us.
Even if Napolitano were right, though, and we were just talking about a few people a day does that really make it any better? Does tramping the 4th amendment rights of, say, a dozen people a day make the pat-downs somehow more acceptable than the reality of 60,000 people per day losing their rights?
It’s wrong no matter how many, or how few, people you do it to.