TSA’s Devious Pocketknife Feint

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TSA’s decision to allow small pocketknives on airplanes isn’t the most important news around, but Jonathan Bernstein has an interesting followup to my post complaining about Chuck Schumer’s demand that TSA reverse itself on this. He points out that it’s really hard to relax safety restrictions, because everyone knows that eventually something bad will happen and whoever did the relaxing will catch hell over it. So how is it that TSA worked up the courage to relax the rules on pocketknives? Bernstein gets Machiavellian on us:

So what I’ve wondering is whoever is making this happen over at TSA is actually really smart about that, and added “knives” to a collection of innocuous stuff to draw fire away from everything else. Not that I’m saying small knives should be banned, or even that TSA thinks they should be banned. Just that it’s probably a viable bureaucratic strategy to toss in one item on the list that politicians can go after, thus allowing everything else to go into effect.

This is….weirdly plausible. If everyone gets riled up over the knives, maybe they’ll forget all about the golf clubs and tiny baseball bats. It’s hard to imagine anyone at TSA actually having this conversation, since there would be too much risk of it leaking out, but who knows? Maybe those guys are more devious than we think.

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