Playmobil Security Checkpoint

Now you too can play airline security. Daniel Solove tried to play with one, and found it wanting. But don't let that sourpuss dissuade you; it's a great Christmas gift.

Posted on October 15, 2005 at 10:42 AM • 49 Comments

Comments

Milan IlnyckyjOctober 15, 2005 11:36 AM

What I find troubling about this is the implicit reminder about the purpose of airport screening. It is based upon the assumption that your fellow passengers might be desirous of blowing up or hijacking the plane. While one of the major things parents do with regards to their children is teaching the mechanisms by which who to trust can be determined (remember Mr. Schneier's comments regarding talking to strangers), it strikes me as quite macabre to do so through a means with such implications about fellow travelers.

jammitOctober 15, 2005 12:42 PM

I finally have an add on to compliment my Playmobil Jihad(tm) set. I can't wait for the President hides the blame(tm) Playmobil set.

AnonymousyOctober 15, 2005 2:54 PM

There's no way to check passangers against the no fly list. The security is ineffective.

Roy OwensOctober 15, 2005 4:11 PM

What's next, Homeland Security Coloring Books?

Someone once said (I forget who): The horror of the human condition, of any human condition, is that one soon gets used to it.

EricOctober 15, 2005 7:31 PM

@David Frier,

You say, "every bit as effective against terrorism as the real thng!" If that is true, then you need to explain something. If this toy is every bit as effective as the actual security screening at airports, please explain why there has not been terrorism aboard a U.S. flight since 9/11.

Is there no one left in the U.S. who would desire to commit such an act?

Is the no fly list keeping them out of the planes?

Is it the air marshal service that's keeping them away?

Is it some provision of the PATRIOT act, such as the sneak and peek searching ability, the power to look at library records, etc.?

I don't think any of my suggestions explain it. Perhaps you can offer an explanation not on my list and that doesn't include airport security screenings.

I cannot recall whether Bruce has ever made such an extreme comment. He usually couches things in terms of costs and benefits. So he's more likely to say something along the lines that although airport screening may be effective, it's not worth the monetary costs or the costs to personal liberty.

So let's hear your theory!

jammitOctober 15, 2005 7:36 PM

@Eric
I have a theory. We're are seeing as many hijacks after 9/11 as we did before 9/11 for the same reason. You can't rehire good suicide bombers. The 9/11 hijackers didn't have a good plan and we didn't have a poor plan, they got lucky that time.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 15, 2005 8:07 PM

Cute, but I think the set should have been listed under the "police" category. And shouldn't the set also include a bad guy, like someone with a fuse sticking out of their shoe? I mean where is the fear supposed to come from?

Maybe more police should be added to the "airport" category or kids might get the idea that security is lacking in all the others areas (http://tinyurl.com/abteu). For example, it seems appropriate to have a Playmobil "passenger loading or unloading only" set (http://tinyurl.com/boxtu).

I liked Daniel's point about the security check-in set missing an ID card. Poor kids are going to get all the wrong ideas and then be shocked into reality.

@ Eric

Interesting to hear you say "because we have not experienced a disaster lately therefore we are safe from a disaster". Perhaps that wasn't supposed to be your message, but I believe burden of proof would be on those saying something is in fact working, no? Remember, correlation should not be confused with causation. I suppose I could go on about "post hoc, propter hoc" and "false dilemma", but your first logical fallacy is probably sufficient to start with on its own.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 15, 2005 8:37 PM

Ok, thanks for the pointer Bruce. I've now spent the better part of an hour scouring through toy sets to find any mention of the term, or even an icon of, security. :(

Believe it or not, the only playset with a "security" reference (so far) is the airport screening. Not even one of the (numerous) police sets, the fire engines, the air rescue crew, coastal rescue, the 911 set...not even the hazmat toys.

I was kind of hoping for something security related in the pirate category, at least for historic accuracy, and found a "royal artillery". Not bad.

So, dear kids, Playmobil would like to inform you that if you want security you'd better head for your checkin gate at the airport.

And after all that, I couldn't help but wonder about the schools themselves that have x-ray detection and bag searches...if anything, many kids are probably far more well-adjusted than their parents when they go to the security screening area.

B-ConOctober 15, 2005 10:24 PM

Not only did the passenger have a big smile, but so did the security personel -- what planet are they from? :-P

That was a funny article, I might get one of those sets for my sister for Christmas.

ArikOctober 16, 2005 7:47 AM

There you go. Start with the children. Once it all looks routine and normal to them, just wait a few years, and a brave new world is already here...

:-)

EricOctober 16, 2005 8:42 AM

@Davi Ottenheimer,

You write: "Interesting to hear you say 'because we have not experienced a disaster lately therefore we are safe from a disaster'."

I did not say anything of the sort, much less the phrase you quoted. You do understand what quotes are supposed to mean and the ethical implications of misquoting someone?

Nowhere did I say we were safe. I do believe we are safer than we would be without the airport security screenings. I do believe checking passengers for guns and explosives makes people safer in airline aircraft.

And recall, I did not ask David for proof of anything, only his theory as to why there haven't been such incidents in the U.S. since 9/11.

If the standard for Bruce posting on this site or anyone else responding in a comment is to provide "proof", then their would be a small fraction of the traffic that we all see here.

Also, if you read and undestood my posting, you would see that I understand the issue of correlation and causality. The many alternative theories that I offered up all provided non-causal relationships between airport security checks and the lack of incidents since 9/11.

Let me be frank with you, Davi. I think your posting is an embarassment. You made up a quote, you throw out the correlation/causality point after it was perfectly clear that I already understood it, you throw out and hide behind terms like "post hoc, propter hoc" and "false dilemma", you imply that I demanded proof when I did not, and you then charge me with a logical fallacy that I did not make. Such tactics are unethical and unprofessional.

Eric

Roy OwensOctober 16, 2005 10:01 AM

@Eric

Here's a theory.

The 1993 February 26 truckbomb attack in the garage under the North Tower was at the time a success in the Arabist world, where it played very well. People there celebrated, they danced in the streets, even though the rest of the world thought the attack a technical failure.

The 2001 September 11 aerial attacks were a spectacular success. Even the 'failed' one in Pennsylvania spectacularly killed every infidel aboard. The Arabist world was jubilant, and is still gleeful about it to this day.

Arabist terrorism is still coasting on the strength of September 11, and can continue to do so for some time. They don't need another spectacle until September 11 starts getting old in the minds of their public.

September 11 is a tough act to follow. To try topping it by replicating the original attacks with less 'sexy' targets would be poor showmanship. When they need to start a next chapter in their saga, the opening act will be stunning, but it won't involve airliners.

And therefore all this airliner security is a waste of our time and money, a drain the Arabist terrorists can take credit for.

A ProhiasOctober 16, 2005 12:45 PM

Eric, Davi's second sentence was "Perhaps that wasn't supposed to be your message". I believe what he inferred from your post is totally reasonable because I inferred the same. And this is the comment section of a blog, not a court of law -relax! Back to your comments, I still don't get your point.

another_bruceOctober 16, 2005 1:12 PM

@eric
here's my theory: airline terrorism, like everything else, undergoes periods of activity interspersed with periods of quiescence. 9/11 was a day of major activity, the mount everest of terrorist acts in our time, if you climbed mount everest, would you feel obliged to climb it again in the next four years, particularly with so many other tempting destinations beckoning, madrid, london, bali...? they've been there, done it, have the t-shirt, the next logical step in our country wouldn't involve hijacking airplanes, it would be an escalation over that, perhaps a suitcase nuke. your original post used the absence of air terrorism in the past four years, a negative, in purported justification of an entire suite of repressive measures, a logical fallacy, and you became defensive when called on it. if you support repressive measures, the onus is on you to justify them.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 16, 2005 1:50 PM

@Eric

"I do believe we are safer than we would be without the airport security screenings. I do believe checking passengers for guns and explosives makes people safer in airline aircraft."

Ok, then the obvious question would be why? Why, Eric, why are we safer from terrorism? You imply airport screenings are the answer, no?

There might be a correlation between taking your shoes off at the airport and the lack of another airline hijack boming in America, but is there cause? You've probably changed a lot of things personally since 9/11, maybe even your choice of toothpaste, but are you comfortable actually explaining what works against terrorism and what is just a coincidence?

Just because there has not been another bombing from a hijacked airliner, does not mean it is because of highly inconvenient and mostly laughable security measures at the airport. We had our nail clippers confiscated until we all stopped carrying them and now we haven't seen another hijacking. Similar to correlation, but a historically oriented argument and nontheless a fallacy (post hoc -- after the fact -- propter hoc -- therefore because of the fact).

And finally, the choices are far more complex and interesting than "you either have security from airport screenings or you don't have security". That seems like a false dilemma to me because there are so many more options. God help us if our only recourse against airline hijackings is to screen passengers. I personally believe that more effective (not necessarily just more) intelligence gathering is a far better use of funds and time.

Please note that I use quotes once again to emphasize what you seem to be saying. Granted, I'm paraphrasing but you of course have the right to clarify. You seem to be a black-and-white kind of person, so this kind of "quoting" for emphasis and sarcasm might be unacceptable in your book of grammar, but it still seems to me to be a legitimate use.

My spelling is sometimes off too, but I hope the point still comes across. Maybe Bruce will soon change his blog subtitle to "A weblog covering security, security technology, and the correct use of grammar." Ooops, there I go again with the quotes.

You said: "Let me be frank with you, Davi. I think your posting is an embarassment."

Ok, Frank. Have it your way, but embarrassing to whom? Me, you, Bruce, America? Maybe I'm just missing the severity of your point, but I'm happy to discuss further. Also, please note that I didn't say "who". Ooops, darn, more quoted emphasis. Shameful. :)

AnonymousOctober 16, 2005 5:46 PM

@Davi
>I personally believe that more effective (not necessarily just more) intelligence gathering is a far better use of funds and time.

I always find it interestnig that both Bruce and Davi talk alot about supporting more "intelligence gathering", but neither of them define "intelligence gathering". More people would define "intelligence gathering" by use of more cameras. Some would define it by wiretapping more converations or more uses of spying.
I doubt neither Bruce nor Davi support more spying on those in America. So what are we left with when it comes to "intelligence gathering"? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 16, 2005 6:26 PM

@ Anonymous

I believe what you are engaged in right now, actually, is considered intelligence gathering.

But more to the point, take a look at the problem of the Red Queen dilemma. Determining from reliable informants who actually makes IEDs and why you can be far more effective than if you just put thicker and thicker plates of armor around you, setup checkpoints every 50m, and require that everyone shave and wear funny suits to stand out and be identified as one of the good guys.

"I found that he has fantasies about Unicorns"

Funny. Unicorns were an example of a fantasy certain *others* might have, like their fantasy of a Left Wing Media conspiracy.

But at least you didn't mis-quote me.

DylanOctober 16, 2005 6:29 PM

@Anonymous
You cannot gather effective intelligence by spying. Any wholesale information gathering process will gather more information than it is useful to process.

The best intelligence is usually provided by the people who are near the problem. The people who know that the next door neighbour is harbouring a terrorist, or that there is a tunnel under their street stuffed with arms.

The difficult question is how to get the people who "know" to tell. And again and again it has been shown that this is a matter of trust. The double-edged sword of masive surveillance and other spying is that it works to subvert trust.

Have a look at the recent US operations in the Phillipines for a good example of how to build the trust of the local population. Similar operations have been undertaken in Afghanistan. In both cases there has been some excellent intelligence gathered.

Secrecy and trust remain the largest hurdles for the US administrations to deal with into the future if they want to gather effective intelligence.

AnonymousOctober 16, 2005 7:01 PM

>Funny. Unicorns were an example of a fantasy certain *others* might have, like their fantasy of a Left Wing Media conspiracy.

Wow. When I read his joke, I never found any beasts from mythology. Maybe Unicorns were reported by Dan Rather.

>But at least you didn't mis-quote me.
True, but you still didn't answer my first question. Just some vague story from what seems like a scene from Iraq, or maybe Unicorn land. (Rolls eyes)

@Dylan
>The people who know that the next door neighbour is harbouring a terrorist
>The difficult question is how to get the people who "know" to tell.

Also how do we verify people who "know" to tell us the right story? How do we know when we are being misled? Seems like it's not an easy solution. I have read some books about the Mossad and the NSA. It seems from the books I have read it not exactly cheap to support "intelligence gathering" either. The information has to be collected, verified and coordinated. May sources have to be payed off and by the time the "intelligence gathering" is complete, it seems like we have a situation where we are not very far from spying.
But I am defining spying from this generic defination:
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=spying
Would anyone wish to give my a better/ more acurate definition for spying.


DylanOctober 16, 2005 7:37 PM

@Anonymous
"Also how do we verify people who "know" to tell us the right story?"

Fair point.

My feeling is that it is a matter of incentive. If the 'informer' feels that they will get a big financial reward for the act of informing, then you invite abuse of the system. Unfortunately, this model continues to be a problem (including in Iraq.)

On the other hand, if the (perhaps financial) reward comes from the act of removing the terrorist/tunnel from your neighbourhood, then you reduce the chance of abuse. Now the informer wants to inform in order to increase their own security because they actually believe that *you* can provide better security for them than the terrorist next door, or the tunnel full of small arms.

The hard part is demonstrating that you can provide better security for them. Understand that this is a long-term strategy, and you don't convert populations en-masse in short order. This sort of change takes place one person at a time.

The good news is that there is plenty of documented advice/information available for the people who are in a position to work in this way. Military textbooks describe this way of operating, for instance. The bad news is that there is no agreement amongst the military brass about the approach to take, and it seems that this particular approach is not 'winning' right now. Or perhaps it is, and we're just not hearing about it.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 16, 2005 7:54 PM

"Wow. When I read his joke, I never found any beasts from mythology."

Perhaps because you are a true believer? One person's mythology is another's faith...but junk science and illogical reasoning are just that.

"you still didn't answer my first question"

This one?

"So what are we left with when it comes to intelligence gathering'?"

Hmmm. My example was to illustrate how finding the source of a problem is more effective than getting caught in an unwinnable race.

Alas, perhaps I misunderstood that all you were actually asking is how to tell the difference between intelligence gathering and spying?

Thanks for the definition, but note that spying actually relies on intelligence gathering, whereas intelligence gathering does not necessarily mean you are spying. In other words, when you're spying then you are trying to obtain information that you are explicitly not authorized to access. It gets a bit blurry when you talk about searching through available/open information for hidden data (maybe now is a good time to discuss the difference between decoding -- finding meaning -- and deciphering).

If you are a citizen of a country and you are telling your government that intelligence gathering does not have boundaries (e.g. unlawful search and seizure), then you would be correct that spying and gathering intelligence would be the same. However, if you believe in the sanctity of the boundaries and balance of power, then you see the contentious nature of the difference between talking with the locals about the neighborhood and spying.

You also ask "How do we know when we are being misled?".

Ah, yes, how DO you establish trust?

This is a great question for security pundits, or even people who post as "Anonymous". No easy answers, unfortunately but many methods that we rely on every day. Hume has one of the more compelling arguments that even though we can never know how the next doorknob will turn or twist, we carry with us a body of experience that gives us a good enough idea about the world that should narrow down the possibilities enough and allow us to actually open a door.

Too vague again? We can probably say with some certainty that many in the intelligence communities / special forces are not new to this issue and have several clever methods for establishing the reliability of sources. In fact, I assure you that some agencies are deploying fairly impressive data-mining and meta tools to communicate efficiently around the globe without losing the relative accuracy of information. This has been spurred, in part, by the rapidly growing number of cases that demand multi-national cooperation to be successfully investigated.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 16, 2005 8:41 PM

Sorry, the above should read "If you are a citizen of a country and you are telling your government that intelligence gathering does not have boundaries (e.g. unlawful search and seizure), then you would be correct that spying and gathering intelligence would **NOT** be the same" -- spying would not (need to) exist because the government would authorize itself without objection to any/all information available.

@nonym0usOctober 16, 2005 10:24 PM

>Perhaps because you are a true believer? One person's mythology is another's faith...but junk science and illogical reasoning are just that.
So far I have not used mythology to prove my point. Since it is Davi who has to rely on mythology, perhaps he is the true believer. But then again, maybe Davi learned about Unicorns from Jayson Blair.
>My example was to illustrate how finding the source of a problem is more effective than getting caught in an unwinnable race.
I agree there are practices that the U.S. engages in that are an unwinnable race. One such point is when Bruce brings up movie plot scenarios are a waste and the time, effort and money would be better spent in Disaster preparedness. Then we can be ready for any disaster. That is a great point. But what is an unwinnable race with "reasonable" airport searching (which is the original thread from Eric) Now I agree that a lot of the searching in airports is for show and some is unreasonable. Examples of unreasonable is banning of all minor accessories. My wife likes to scrapbook and tried to carry a tiny hammer (3 inches long) used for impacting rivets on scrapbook pages. This of course was banned. We have all heard about nail clippers and other health items that have been confiscated. Of course this is overboard. But the fact that there are people who are positioned to filter those who may posses weapons is the possible reason that we have not had a hijacking since 9/11. While you poked holes in the presentation of Eric's argument, you did not present evidence that his theory was altogether incorrect. So back to your story. While it may have made perfect sense to you that your story had a point, it would seem that it was about as much as a distraction as a Unicorn as described by Eason Jordan.
>but note that spying actually relies on intelligence gathering
I agree.
>whereas intelligence gathering does not necessarily mean you are spying
In a blog where we can define our own terms and make our agreements nice and clean, yes. Out in the field where many agents of a very large government are involved, where money to get information can come very easy I would say it becomes much less clear cut.
>However, if you believe in the sanctity of the boundaries and balance of power, then you see the contentious nature of the difference between talking with the locals about the neighborhood and spying.
You assume I do not believe "in the sanctity of the boundaries and balance of power". Wrong assumption.
>then you see the contentious nature of the difference between talking with the locals about the neighborhood and spying.
Maybe you need to describe your definition of spying so I can see your difference.
So when we "gather intelligence" the information then is forwarded to higher level officials and/or "data mining" experts. It is combined with information from other locals. Now assuming we did not include any information from wiretapping or "forced information" but we do include photo intelligence, shared intelligence with the U.K. and the information described above. Is all this information within "boundaries"?
I don't have the answers yet, this is why I am curious how everyone defines spying and "intelligence gathering".

EricOctober 16, 2005 10:33 PM

My second comment seems to have generated a number of replies. Let me try to respond to them.

A Prohias write: "I believe what he inferred from your post is totally reasonable because I inferred the same. And this is the comment section of a blog, not a court of law -relax! Back to your comments, I still don't get your point."

The first comment in this list says that security screenings are worthless (i.e., that the toy is as effective as the real thing). That's an extreme and absolute statement. I challenged the idea that they are worthless. In other words, I believe they have some worth. The security screenings may make us modestly safer, moderately safer, or greatly safer. But they aren't worthless. I negated an absolute statement and I allowed for a whole range of shades of gray.

As for your comment about this not being a court of law, Davi used quote marks around words I never stated or an idea that was not a part of my comment. Not misquoting someone is a fundamental standard applied far more broadly than a court of law. In fact, even middle school students are taught what quotations marks mean and are held accountable to using them correctly.

another_bruce writes: "your original post used the absence of air terrorism in the past four years, a negative, in purported justification of an entire suite of repressive measures, a logical fallacy, and you became defensive when called on it. if you support repressive measures, the onus is on you to justify them."

First of all, like I said above, I challenged the idea that airport security screenings are worthless. I claim they have some worth. I specifically referred to the screenings for guns and explosives. I pointed out that we have not had any such attempts in the U.S. since 9/11, and I invited people to offer their theories as to why, which you kindly did. Please point out to me where I justified, as you put it, an "entire suite of repressive measures". Or are you claiming that screening for guns and explosives are repressive measures?

And finally back to Davi. He says: "Ok, then the obvious question would be why? Why, Eric, why are we safer from terrorism? You imply airport screenings are the answer, no?"

No. Where did I say or imply anything about *the* answer?I said that we are safER with the airport security screenings than we would be without them. And I specifically listed the screenings for guns and explosives. I do not believe in silver bullets, so I do not believe such screenings are *the* answer. I believe that effective security, in general, tends to be multi-layered, and that such airport screenings are *a* component of effective security.

You then go off and talk about correlation not being the same as causation, even after I a) explained that I was very well aware of that, b) showed you that my initial comment, in fact, demonstrated that. And although I specifically listed screening for guns and explosives you skip those and address nail clippers!?

You then go on to say: "And finally, the choices are far more complex and interesting than 'you either have security from airport screenings or you don't have security'. That seems like a false dilemma to me because there are so many more options."

I never claimed that dichotomy of options. In fact, my initial comment challenged David Frier's comment in which he stated the airport security screenings are worthless. I said they aren't worthless. And in my second comment, I narrowed down where I thought their value lay -- in the the screening for guns and explosives.

So at three distinct points across two of your comments you try to cast my own rejection of absolute statements into extreme statements. Of course it's easier to argue against extreme statements, but that wouldn't be your motive, would it?

EricOctober 16, 2005 10:43 PM

I apologize for not including this in my previous comment, but at least one other contributor to this forum also believes that airport screening is not worthless. I realize that this is hard to believe, but it's true.

On December 7, 2004, Bruce Schneier wrote: "I don't advocate zero screening. I advocate a basic level of cursory screening. More screening might be more effective, but it quickly reaches the point of diminishing returns in cost-effectiveness. [paragraph break] Screening is meant to deter the idiot copycats, not the smart ones. And a cursory screening will do that."

Link: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2004/12/...

VanceOctober 17, 2005 1:19 AM

@Anonymous

You wrote: "Also how do we verify people who 'know' to tell us the right story? How do we know when we are being misled?"

Suppose your neighbor's house is burgled. When they come to interview you about any unusual persons, vehicles, etc. you may have seen in the neighborhood, how do they know you will give them correct answers? If you simply said "I didn't see a thing" it would be impossible to prove if you were lying. The only way the police can rely on you is if it's in your interest to help them instead of the burglar. The solution, which is admittedly difficult, is to build communities where this is true (this includes many U.S. inner cities).

GregOctober 17, 2005 1:54 AM

Worth checking out if you can find it in your office's library:

Friday's FT Magazine (part of Friday's Financial Times) had an article on a Jamaican-born business woman working in the telecoms industry in Sweden. Her profile was hence a single black woman and frequent flyer.

As a result she was very often targeted for searches etc. The article describes some simple measures she took to escape the "profile".

DylanOctober 17, 2005 1:58 AM

@Eric
The original poster never said that airport screening was worthless. The actual quote (for those who can't be bothered to scroll to the top) is:
"Every bit as effective against terrorism as the real thng!"

I assume that thng is a misspelling.

When discussing cost-benefit analysis of the present airport screening process in the USA, you may indeed consider that the toy is every bit as effective. Using pure economic analysis (what is the cost of a terrorism incident vs what is the cost of countering a terrorist incident) you may conclude that the present regime is even less effective than just buying the toy.

This is because the cost of implementing the current security arrangements may far outweigh the economic impact of any incident that occurs.

This is all speculative, however. As long as there aren't any (thwarted or successful) terrorist incidents to cost against, it is hard to estimate.

Clearly, there comes a point at which adding more security at an airport becomes more of a cost-burden than benefit. There are many (including Bruce, based on your quote above) who believe this point has passed.

If things were scaled back to a reasonable level, at which a small number of skilled professionals could do the work (instead of the present armies of unskilled minimum wagers) then the same (or even more) benefit could be realised for a lot less cost. Then you could say that airport screening had real worth.

EricOctober 17, 2005 7:49 AM

@Dylan,

Had David Frier used the term "cost effective" you would have a point. But effectiveness can be measured in a variety of ways -- in terms of monetary costs, in terms of time consumed, in terms of manpower assigned, etc. But David Frier not only used the generic "effective", he emphasized the extreme form of his claim by saying "every bit as effective".

Please note in that my very first comment in this thread, I delved into issues of costs and benefits. Here's a quote which you'll find above: "I cannot recall whether Bruce has ever made such an extreme comment. He usually couches things in terms of costs and benefits. So he's more likely to say something along the lines that although airport screening may be effective, it's not worth the monetary costs or the costs to personal liberty."

@nonym0usOctober 17, 2005 9:07 AM

One other thought. How many of you who believe that screening at airports is useless also run NIDS/NIPS on your networks?

If you do, what is the difference?

All of the above are methods of screening. All of the above will generate false positives when not used with good intelligence. All of the above and be too premissive if no one is paying attention or is paying attention to the wrong information. But also when something does go wrong all of the above is useful to audit what happened.

In the hands of someone who is well trained and has tuned the screening for what is appropriate then screening provides a useful defense.

Unfortunately airport screening often acts like an IDS with too many rules loaded for services not available on the local network.

another_bruceOctober 17, 2005 12:51 PM

@eric
poster #1 combined brevity, comedy and insight, which is hard to do. you attacked his premise (that toy security is as effective as real security, which i'm not sure that he meant literally) by citing other conditions that have existed during our 49 consecutive months of friendly skies and challenging us to offer alternative explanations. some of those conditions are repressive, the patriot act's library card audit and the inability of innocent no-fliers to have transparent explanation and expungement, to name two, and you did not differentiate among the security you were defending or the other conditions you offered as to which ones were effective, somewhat effective or cost-effective.
i submit that all of you are missing the point, and the point, as so often happens (and has been noted on this blog) has to do with the agenda of the decisionmakers. i hope it doesn't break anyone's heart to hear that the government's primary concern isn't to protect you from somebody seizing your plane and flying it into a building. the primary imperative is to keep people flying. the government and the airline industry have been in bed together so long you can't hardly tell one from the other anymore, now we have mcairlines offering happy flights and the success of this model depends on filling the seats. a pareto optimum analysis is going on (after the economist wilfredo pareto, who invented the 20-80 rule), and the objective is to encourage at least 80% of the people to keep flying without critically offending any more than 20%. have a good flight!

David FrierOctober 17, 2005 2:26 PM

My my.

Sarcasm is just one of the services I offer. And though I usually do manage to spell "thing" correctly, I am pleased when I manage to have "combined brevity, comedy and insight, which is hard to do" (thank you for the very kind words, another_bruce). I especially appreciate the last, because in ten words I think I managed to reiterate the same point that Bruce made in the very article cited by Eric. The cost of the current production of "security theater" now playing at your local airport so vastly outstrips any possible real benefit (even if it deterred one terroism incident per month, which defies credibility) that another agenda must be at work.

I never dreamed my pithy little bon mot would set off this type of donnybrook, but we do seem to have one among us who has drunk the PATRIOT kool-aid.

Davi OttenheimerOctober 17, 2005 5:37 PM

@nonym0us

"it is Davi who has to rely on mythology"

Ah, well, that's a bit extreme, no? But now that you mention it I'm actually not ashamed to have a faith but I wouldn't say I rely on mythology. In fact, I'm still looking for examples you might have found where I "rely" on it.

With regard to the unicorn comment please try to understand that I was pointing out (with a nod to Jon Stewart's tounge-in-cheek analsys of the neo-cons) a post where someone else was confusing/mixing mythology and facts.

Hope that helps.

@ another_bruce

Excellent analysis. I would only extend your point "encourage at least 80% of the people to keep flying without critically offending any more than 20%" to say that it's very difficult to use intelligence gathering and generate any traction (encouragement) for the public eye.

@ David Frier

Funny post. Had I realized where this thread was going; or, as the old saying goes, out of the "Frier pan"...

DylanOctober 17, 2005 7:57 PM

@eric

I think I prefer the original. "every bit as cost effective" just doesn't have the same ring.

As to your original question, regarding why there haven't been any US airborne terrorist incidents since 9/11, the main reason IMO would be that the prospect of success would be diminished too far now. Not because of baggage screening per se, but because of in-plane measures (cabin security and procedures), and the general reluctance of passengers to be passive in the face of terrorists (see Richard Reid, and the Pennsylvania crash for more examples.)

Also, there have been at least two incidents since 2001 onboard US bound aircraft (both travelling to Florida, coincidentally.) It is arguable that in fact the number of terrorist incidents onboard international flights. It seems to maintain a steady rate of approximately one plane per 1.4 yrs since the mid 1970s. Including since 2001.

Poor screening still leads to incidents (see the Russian aircraft bombings in August 2004 for instance, which were precipitated by a combination of poor screening and corruption from officials. Only one of these planes had time to raise a hijack alert, so I guess they didn't waste time trying to subdue the passengers on these ones.)

DylanOctober 17, 2005 8:13 PM

I would point out that the last fatal US-originated hijack incident before 9/11 as far as I can determine occurred in 1987. So it will take some time to determine whether the additional measures employed by the TSA are any more effective than the previous regime was. I would allow at least until 2029 to be sure.

KnaveOctober 18, 2005 8:19 AM

All this 'make people trust you = making security better' sounds a lot like 'improve the police force and due process' to me.

@nonym0usOctober 18, 2005 12:21 PM

@Davi

>a post where someone else was confusing/mixing mythology and facts.

Actually he was not confusing anything, he just telling a joke. Just like David Frier was. I was just trying to see how you act from the other side of the coin.

Obviosuly you missed the lesson. Especially the lines where the journalists promoting Unicorns were fired/retired journalists for misrepresenting stories to fit thier political agenda.

This is one of the reasons I like to make sure we define our impacting words like "privacy". I have found that the word means something to one side of the political fence and is percieved different from the other side of the political fence. Hence that is why the joke about "liberal media" was not funny to you, but the joke about the playmobile screeners are evey bit as effective as the real screeners was funny to you.

Now that you have learned something about yourself, I feel as I should send you a bill for my services. Maybe I will just make the first one free. ;)

David FrierOctober 18, 2005 1:41 PM

@eric

I hang garlic over my door to prevent vampire attacks. And did you know, there has not been a single vampire attack in our apartment since we lived there?

My wife says that Rochester, NY is not an area where there's a big vampire problem and she doubts the garlic is much of a contribution to that fact... but I think the effective radius of the garlic may be greater than I first believed.

@nonym0usOctober 18, 2005 7:01 PM

>I hang garlic over my door to prevent vampire attacks.

WOW!!! First Unicorns and now vampires.

Yup it looks like some folks in this group need to keep up with their lithium treatments.

David FrierOctober 18, 2005 7:13 PM

Tell me, @nonym0us... do you think that I really believe in vampires?

Do you really think Davi believes in unicorns?

And do you think that the security theater being enacted in every airport is why there've been no more jumbo jets flown into buildings?

I'm just trying to see how the political implications of various absurd propositions affects your ability to accept them.

Me, I reject absurd propositions ipso facto. And I reject the political factions that put forth more of them.

Jo_AvaOctober 18, 2005 10:39 PM

Clearly anyone who gets this set will also need the Hazmat team, to be equally prepared for the threat of chemical or biological warfare:

http://www.mastermindtoys.com/store/product.asp?...

And we'd better keep our eyes on those bank robbers, in case they decide to try to smuggle that blowtorch onto a plane:

http://www.collectobil.com/catalogue/items/...

I LOVE PLAYMOBIL

(PS - already own the medieval headsman. Could definitely use the airport security set for Christmas)

@nonym0usOctober 18, 2005 11:12 PM

>Do you really think Davi believes in unicorns?

No, I believe he can't take a joke when it runs against his agenda so I turn the tables on him. Also I am starting to laught at all the arguements by sarcasm by making fun of the sarcasm and posters of sarcasm. I am learning they are better at dishing it out then they are at taking it.

>And do you think that the security theater being enacted in every airport is why there've been no more jumbo jets flown into buildings?

I believe I made my point clear when I compared them to IDS/IPS systems on a network (which is interesting that no one has replied to that post). Also previous to that posting I also made it clear (with real eyewitness examples) that some of the steps taken in airports are for show. Hence opere citato prevseo posto:

"Now I agree that a lot of the searching in airports is for show and some is unreasonable."

So it seems clear that you did not go back and read my serious posts.

In fine Me vexat pede.

nbk2000October 19, 2005 1:07 PM

This is a good toy, because it teaches children that the only security they can trust is that which they build themselves.

:p

David FrierOctober 20, 2005 2:46 AM

@@nonym0us

When you make a serious post, I will happily reply to it. If comparing airport security theater to IDS is your idea of a serious post, well, I am still waiting.

@nonym0usDecember 16, 2005 9:33 AM

@David Frier

>When you make a serious post, I will happily reply to it.

Well I have waited for weeks for you to reply to my actualy question. If all you can muster is an insult, then I guess it shows who is really thinking critically.

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