I haven't commented on the furor surrounding the latest TSA regulations. I no longer have to fly very often, and I don't have a problem going through the so-called naked scanners. But reading all the outrage brings me back to something I've written about before: the dynamic between offense and defense in counterterrorism.
One of the reasons I support aggressive offensive measures (which some find offensive) against terrorism, is that the alternative involves greater defensive efforts. Airport security is probably the most visible and annoying anti-terrorism defense. It's important to remember that the latest TSA regulations were put into place in the aftermath of failed terrorist plots. If you think the TSA is trampling on the rights of U.S. citizens now, imagine what is going to happen if there is a successful major terrorist attack. Counterterrorism involves a combination of offense and defense. But the more restrictions we place on our offensive efforts, most of which are conducted outside of our borders, the more we raise the chances that we will have to rely on greater defensive efforts. Defense means internal security. And internal security means infringing the rights of Americans with ever more intrusive regulations and inspections.
Those who argue in favor of giving rights to foreign terror suspects, placing all sorts of restrictions on intelligence agencies such as the CIA, and treating hostile non-state terrorists as common criminals are directly attacking the offensive side of our efforts to prevent a terror attack on the U.S. That's a great idea if you like more internal security and less freedom.