David Harsanyi

Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, now says that the bombing attempt by this -- thankfully -- incompetent terrorist was a failure of the nation's entire aviation security system. The president has ordered a full review of the situation.

But if someone like Abdulmutallab can circumvent security, why are you being shaken down over a shampoo bottle?

As Bob Poole, director of transportation policy at Reason Foundation, recently wrote, this failure reflects the flawed thinking of aviation security policy, namely a fixation "on keeping bad things -- as opposed to bad people -- off of airplanes."

It is an unavoidable fact that these "bad people" tend to come from certain places and subscribe to a certain religious affiliation. Focus on them.

From the evidence, it is clear that it is impossible to cover every base, but the wasted billions shaking down the average passenger offers little more than psychological comfort.

While your life or business or vacation hangs in the balance, the TSA worker moves at a glacial pace, throwing painfully nonsensical queries your way and holding up the lives of millions. For what?

Recently, I was reading a helpful blog set up by the TSA, wherein passengers were given space to vent. Complaints included rude treatment, inflexible rules, long lines, and seemingly illogical and inconsistent policies. Yet, when it comes to security (and most things that relate to flying in the air), most travelers were willing to capitulate to some discomfort in the name of safety.

Without the safety, however, it is just discomfort. And if we are asked to remove our underwear at the airport, well, the terrorists have won.