Why Airport Security Does Not Keep You Safe
Do you feel safer when you pass through the security checkpoints at the airport? If so, congratulations. That feeling is the only benefit you’re likely to get from billions of tax dollars spent on T.S.A. “theater,” according to the article at the Vanity Fair link above.
The article makes several disturbing points. They are disturbing mostly because they are simple common sense, yet the people in charge of homeland security don’t seem to understand or care about them. For example, “one of America’s foremost security experts,” Bruce Schneier, observes that a terrorist’s goal is not to blow up airplanes; it is to create terror. Therefore, if we make it difficult to blow up airplanes, a terrorist will simply “spend an extra $30 on gas to drive to a hotel or casino and attack it.”
About Americans flew about 700 million times in 2010 alone. However, “In the last 10 years, there have been 20 known full-fledged al-Qaeda operatives who flew on U.S. planes (the 9/11 hijackers and the underwear bomber, who was given explosives by a Yemeni al-Qaeda affiliate). Picking the right 20 out of 700 million is simply not possible . . . .”
“The security bottlenecks are regularly bypassed by large numbers of people—airport workers, concession-stand employees, airline personnel, and T.S.A. agents themselves (though in 2008 the T.S.A. launched an employee-screening pilot study at seven airports). ‘Almost all of those jobs are crappy, low-paid jobs,’ Schneier says. ‘They have high turnover. If you’re a serious plotter, don’t you think you could get one of those jobs?’”
The solution is not to return to the days when virtually anyone was allowed free access to airplanes, of course. But neither is it actually doing anything constructive to spend billions and billions of dollars trying to identify terrorists as they attempt to board airplanes. Instead, we should be using all those resources to catch terrorists long before they get anywhere near an airport.
As for all the gyrations the T.S.A. requires of us at airports, according to the article the lines, the groping of our private parts, and the full body scans are nothing more than propaganda, designed to keep us flying by creating an illusion that the government can keep us safe.