Friday, November 19, 2010

Security Theater

For those who don’t follow the game closely, Security Theater is a term used by many security professionals to describe the sort of thing that goes on in airports all over America now. Lots of semi-trained government employees grabbing your crotch and feeling you up, forcing you to take off your shoes, and now, medium-tech machines that look through your clothes to spice up the boring days of the TSA workers. Lots of activity; very, very little actual security.

Real security, the kind that works, is carried out by the Israelis. They don’t feel you up; they don’t use any of those look-through-your-clothes machines; they don’t make you take off your shoes. They use highly-trained professionals and they profile. An excellent article about this was written just under a year ago, and you can find it here. HT: Dad29

Oh, that nasty word – PROFILING. Never mind that each and every one of us profiles people every single day, whether we’re watching TV or out in public; the politically-correct police have made profiling a dirty word, and they tell us it’s wrong and bad. They tell is it’s OK to feel up nuns and to hassle old folks with canes or walkers and to poke and prod children at airports, because Americans don’t believe in profiling. What a load of horse-puckey.

One of my acquaintances, who writes a monthly column for a local magazine, posted on his Facebook account something about how the enhanced pat-downs are a small price to pay for “security”, given what our brave troops are facing in Afghanistan. Ah yes, let’s drag in the glorious war dead on battlefields far away. My acquaintance fails to see the irony in his post, because most of us think our brave troops on battlefields far away are fighting AGAINST exactly the kind of crap at airports he so joyfully endorses. (That would include defending the 4th Amendment.)

I’m always pulled out of the line for extra attention at the airport because I have a titanium hip. I put up with it stone-faced; there’s no sense giving the TSA goons grief. They’ll just make your life more miserable and further delay your boarding.

The best security I ever experienced, the kind the Israelis use, was during an April 2002 trip to Las Vegas with my wife. Yes, 7 months after the 9-11 attacks. We were in line to go up to the top of the Stratosphere. There was a metal-detector gate and a security guard in front of the “final” elevator that takes you to the top. I told him I had a metal hip joint, and he smiled and locked his eyes right on my eyes, saying “titanium won’t set off the metal detector anyway”. He kept his eyes locked right on mine, smiling, and said “ever been up to the top before?” I said “nope. ‘spose you’re gonna use that wand on me now, right?” He kept his eyes locked right onto mine, and said “naw, go on up there with your wife and enjoy the view.”

This guy should be in charge of the complete revision of our government’s concepts about security, and everyone who works in whatever replaces the failed TSA should be required to spend a day with this guy, to learn how to profile people….just like he profiled me, in Vegas, 8 years ago.

1 comment:

  1. Every so-called improvement in airport security removes a bit more of our freedom, and we are not safer for it. Resisting that madness is, believe it or else, an act of patriotism. What patriot would silently go along with a system he knew was not only a failure, but was actually putting the nation at further risk?

    Consider the story of Californian John Tyner who was recently interrogated, bullied, threatened with an $11,000 fine and finally refused permission to board his flight after he objected to the intrusive search. When he sought to assert his rights, Tyner was told by a TSA supervisor: “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” He was never suspected of anything, but that didn’t matter.

    The TSA seems almost willfully unaware of how easy it is to thwart this foolish system. A terrorist need not get on an airplane to wreak havoc with the air travel system. Anyone can walk into a terminal and get into a checkpoint line without encountering any security whatsoever. You don't even need a ticket.

    If the backpack went off while the attacker was standing in the middle of that serpentine line of people waiting to be electronically strip-searched, the fireball could conceivably consume several airplanes full of people, the scanners, the hapless TSA staff and, for all intents and purposes, wreck the airport terminal.

    An incident like that would indefinitely close every airport in the country.

    Security expert Bruce Schneier is a leading source of information on the subject of airport security. Schneier says that "exactly two things have made us safer since 9/11: reinforcing the cockpit door and convincing passengers they need to fight back. Everything else is a waste of money."

    The characterization of the security display as "theater" is exactly right. It is meant as a show to reassure the gullible their safety is assured. Some of the things we encounter out here on the eastern edge of the known world are downright laughable: National Guard kids in battle gear, carrying assault rifles, clearly bored, wandering forth and back in the ticketing area. What exactly would they do with that ridiculously inappropriate weapon if they encountered an obvious evildoer, whatever that means, in such a crowded area?

    Security incidents even half a world away also routinely bring out the local police K-9 units. Never mind how hoe-handle simple it is to avoid contact with those grim-faced actors. What few people know is that those dogs are usually trained to sniff out drugs, not explosives. That's OK, though, because this is all for show.

    We must get rid of the make-believe "security" measures that people hate and spend the money on doing what the Israelis do so effectively: Stop terrorists before they get on the airport grounds.