I, unlike many of you, do not have to take my shoes off when I go through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint at the airport. This only applies when I am in uniform as I am a member of “the U.S. Armed Services” (see TSA’s policy on their website). There are several things about this that should bother you:
1. If I can be trusted when in my uniform, why can I not be trusted when in civilian clothes?
2. If my shoes are not a threat, then why are your shoes a threat?
3. Although I am a U.S. citizen, not every member of the military is (please don’t take this the wrong way; many non-citizen soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines are extremely loyal to the U.S. and desire to become citizens; I am simply thinking of a far-fetched what-if scenario). If shoes are really a threat (are they?), then how hard would it be to put a swarm of shoe bombers through boot camp and put them all on the same flight? Even easier, they really don’t even need to go through boot camp. The TSA website claims that you need to have a military ID and be in uniform, but the person who checks your ID is not the same one who enforces shoe removal. You can easily show a driver’s licence and be in a uniform you bought from Goodwill or Salvation Army.
4. Although the website says that belts must be removed, I have never been asked to remove my belt while in uniform (and it does have a metal buckle). If my belt is not a threat then why is yours?
As soon as you start making exceptions to the rules, you make the rules pointless and open to exploitation. If the rules are unnecessary for a subset of the population, then they are inherently unnecessary. If, on the other hand, shoe and belt removal are vital to the security of this nation, then every person who passes through TSA checkpoints should be required to comply with these rules without exception.