Monday, November 29, 2010

Two Things Made Flying Safer - The Rest is Security Theater

In "A Waste of Money and Time", security technologist Bruce Schneier speaks plainly about the problem with airline security. They say that generals are often guilty of preparing to fight the last war. Airport security seems to follow that same pattern:

A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.

Otherwise known as reactive measures. What are needed are proactive measures, which need to be directed at the bombers and not the bombs.

...Our security measures only work if we happen to guess the plot correctly. If we get it wrong, we’ve wasted our money. This isn’t security; it’s security theater.

Security theater. Playing a part to make people feel safer about flying, when in fact, very little of the efforts actually make anyone safer.

...Exactly two things have made airplane travel safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door, and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else has been a waste of money. Add screening of checked bags and airport workers and we’re done. Take all the rest of the money and spend it on investigation and intelligence.

Read the whole thing. Think about what tremendous amounts of money we waste for minimal gains. Then, think of the erosion of rights and dignity it costs us in addition to our treasure. Then consider letting your elected officials know what you really think.

H/T Say Anything

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