Fri 29 Oct 2010
Jeff Goldberg (the rest is ok, but a few too many euphemisms for me):
I had a choice of two TSA screening checkpoints. I picked mine based on the number of people waiting in line, not because I am impatient, but because the coiled, closely packed lines at TSA screening sites are the most dangerous places in airports, completely unprotected from a terrorist attack — a terrorist attack that would serve the same purpose (shutting down air travel) as an attack on board an aircraft.
The obligatory Schneier reference:
I don’t object to stringent security (as you will soon see), but I do object to meaningless security theater (Bruce Schneier’s phrase)
Roll the image of the airport security lines around in your head for awhile. Think about it. The idea is that we will prevent terrorists from smuggling bombs or weapons onto planes, where they will be able to use the enclosed space to kill the densely packed civilians there. How do we do this? By packing all those civilians into nice, tightly packed rows, in order to check them. Relish the insanity.
Now, imagine what would happen if these devices actually detected a real bomb on a passenger. What would he do? Would he say “oh, well, I guess you caught me — I was really dead set on blowing up hundreds of people on a plane, but you know, it’s just not the same if they’re all standing here on the ground.” Or would he just pull the trigger and accomplish the exact same goal as he had intended?
Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing — attempting to prevent high density civilian kills… by detaining large number of civilians in small spaces where it would be trivial to blow them up. This is all old news. I would have told you this on September 12th, 2001. But there’s a certain pain in realizing that we’re still doing it 9 years later. If blatantly obvious facts have no impact on our security methods, how much safety do we think these methods are buying us, for our billions?