I certainly don't mean to single out the ACLU, but this is an example of the classism at work in the outrage over People Like Us being searched before getting on airliners:
And as the Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out — quite seriously — on The Colbert Report earlier this week:
If the terrorist plot has advanced to point where they're in the airport and an hour away from detonating a bomb, if they defeated the FBI, the CIA, the entire military to make it to that point, you think those guys in the blue shirts, with the bins and the shoes, are really going to be able to stop this plot?
We’ve been making this point for a long time: the best chance to catch a terrorist is through old-fashioned law enforcement and intelligence work.
[Emphasis supplied.] Citing Jeffrey Goldberg for anything is perilous. The implicit notion here is that "those guys in the blue shirts" are stupid lummoxes who couldn't catch a cold guarding a daycare center. Unlike us clever, highly educated professionals who are flying to Burning Man.
Note the second bolded portion. What does "old-fashioned law enforcement" mean in the context of terrorism? The unstated assumption is detective work, that is, work done by people in suits and ties, not in blue shirts. But blue shirts have been part of capturing terrorists or preventing terrorist attacks. Timothy McVeigh was caught by Oklahoma State Trooper Charlie Hanger, who pulled him over for a traffic violation and arrested him for carrying an illegal concealed weapon. In 2002, Whitney Donahue called the police to a highway rest stop, and Maryland State Police Trooper First Class D. Wayne Smith captured the beltway snipers. This year, a street vendor, Lance Orton, alerted New York City police officer Wayne Rhatigan to smoke coming from an SUV parked on the street. Rhatigan discovered the Times Square bomb before it went off. (It's possible the bomb would never have detonated, but he didn't know that and it's irrelevant anyway.)
Of course, detective and intelligence work have foiled plots and resulted in terrorists being captured, probably many more than uniformed police have or ever will (the number being unknowable because government figures on attacks stopped secretly are inherently unreliable).
Look, there are lots of stupid cops. That's true no matter what color shirt they're wearing or which agency they work for. It's true because there are lots of stupid people. TSA procedures probably make no sense, and the people in charge of the TSA are to blame for that. TSA screeners who behave badly should be fired. But people should stop thinking of them as mindless robots just because they are uniformed security.