After several years now of goofy pat-downs and nutty pat answers to criticism, the Transportation Security Administration had better change its act.
It's getting a reputation as the American Gestapo.
They've checked an elderly woman's adult diapers for explosives. They've put a 6-year-old girl through an enhanced pat-down. They forced a 4-year-old developmentally delayed boy to remove his braces and walk through a detector. They've bullied and groped and threatened otherwise law-abiding Americans, one supposes on a random basis.
You have to wonder how much indignity and outrage Americans are going to put up with in order to fly.
The agency says it has modified its pat-down procedures with regard to children. And it's going to be pilot-testing a "trusted traveler" program in a handful of cities, including Atlanta, in which certain frequent fliers will voluntarily give the agency enough information to essentially be pre-screened.
We understand the need for safety. It wasn't that long ago a radical Muslim tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit with "enhanced" underwear. But some of these guys are getting on board with shadowy pasts and even expired boarding passes.
In another, less dire, insult to air passengers, new rules by the U.S. Department of Transportation will require airlines to reimburse baggage fees to passengers if their bags are lost -- but only if they're lost permanently. Airlines can still keep the annoying fees even if the bags travel around the world and arrive to you days later.
You know what? If airlines are going to require your bags to purchase a "ticket" to ride, the least they can do is get the little passengers to the same airport as you, at roughly the same time.
Meanwhile, what the TSA has been doing to the rest of us is unalloyed lunacy -- treating 4- and 6-year-olds and wheelchair-bound seniors like potential terrorists, when everyone knows the profile of the real threats.
The TSA had better hope its trusted traveler program works, and can be rolled out to all passengers and all airlines. There's no reason, in this day and age, that they can't figure out who poses absolutely zero risk to other passengers.