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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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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