Government Red Tape after 9/11 Devastates American Tourism Industry

While tourism is rising rapidly in much of the world, it is falling in America, thanks to the hassle that our government puts foreign tourists through when they seek to visit our country. In response to the terrorist attacks on 9/11, our government, rather than focusing on terrorists, stepped up its hassling of harmless foreign visitors to the U.S., costing our economy $94 billion, more damage than was done to the country by the terrorist attacks themselves. The reduction in foreign tourists coming to the U.S. has also cost 200,000 jobs and $16 billion in federal tax revenue, notes Fareed Zakaria in Newsweek and today’s Washington Post.

While the government is busy hassling and delaying harmless tourists from Britain, New Zealand, and Germany, who want to spend money in America, it is doing little to crack down on potential terrorists, since the Transportation Department indiscriminately hassles passengers in general, while needlessly banning “profiling” based on a host of characteristics other than race, such as country of origin. (The Constitution and 1866 Civil Rights Act sharply restrict racial profiling, but generally do not restrict non-racial profiling outside the employment context, as the Supreme Court made clear in its Kimel and Garrett decisions. Terrorists are not evenly distributed across all demographic categories. The 9/11 hijackers, for example, were young, had suspicious affiliations, were all male, and came mostly from Saudi Arabia).

Moreover, the Transportation Security Administration, the inefficient government agency which took over airport security after 9/11, has a failure rate three or four times as high as the private companies it replaced, allowing fake bombs and explosive parts through airport security checkpoints at an alarming rate. However, it does continually search my wife and infant daughter whenever they travel. (Never mind that my wife, in one of her past jobs, was deemed trustworthy and reliable enough to handle sensitive defense information, and the fact that I have worked for a federal judge and in the U.S. Department of Education).