Nomen Publicus December 25, 2007 10:55 AM

Well, there’s a idea for the next “movie threat” competition….

“What commonly available childrens toy can be best turned into a cheap, difficult to detect, weapon of mass destruction?”

Anonymous December 26, 2007 10:14 AM

Okay geniuses. Let’s do away with security. Anyone can get on a plane without any perceived infringement of their rights. You can take anything on the plane, with no ID to protect your privacy. We’ll put you guys in charge, then security incidents will be impossible since you know exactly how to detect and stop them without every looking at someone who is innocent.

I look forward to observing your security operations. 100% success rate–no false positives, no false negatives. Absolute perfection. After all, those on this board are the only ones who know anything and will no doubt achieve perfection.

Or maybe we’re just back seat drivers. We enjoy sitting back talking about how perfect things would be if people would only do what we say. But heaven forbid we take the wheel and actually have to be responsible for steering the damn car–then we may actually have to be accountable for something.

Anonymouse December 26, 2007 1:13 PM

Okay genius. It worked fine that way for at least fifty years. Then something changed. Why don’t we figure out what changed and fix that instead of layering on bandaids that don’t actually work?

Anonymous December 26, 2007 1:43 PM

Sounds good. I’m all for that. I don’t pretend to know it all. I’m not an expert. It’s just amazing that every self proclaimed expert doesn’t seem to actually do anything but type.

Brandt Kurowski December 26, 2007 3:45 PM

Dear Anonymous at 10:14 AM,

Heaven forbid we sign our name to our posts and actually have to be responsible for what we say–then we may actually have to be accountable for something.

Clearly airport security is broken, and something needs to be done to fix it. Poking fun at the absurdities of our current implementation is just one tiny step towards fixing it.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a post by Bruce that advocates for eliminating all airport security. I have, however, read several posts of his that clearly articulate well-reasoned alternative allocations of security resources, based on evidence that shows what sorts of security are actually effective. A trip through the archives should prove enlightening for you.

derf December 26, 2007 4:06 PM

No TSA would be exactly the same as what we have today, but without the harassment, delays, or illegal searches and seizures of items that have absolutely no possibility of aiding a real security incident.

Frances December 26, 2007 8:49 PM

We had one of those incidents that make you wonder what goes on in people’s heads.

An 81-year old woman from north of Toronto was supposed to fly from Toronto to Calgary to be with her son’s family for Christmas. However, her wallet was stolen in Toronto – so, no photo I.D., no flying. Her family here in Ontario called her M.P. who badgered and pulled strings until he got permission for her to fly without her I.D.

But really! This is a white-haired Caucasian woman who presumably spoke with a Canadian accent and she was going from one Canadian city to another. What’s with the photo I.D.? Why did it matter? No one was suggesting that she should not go through security.

Kevin December 27, 2007 8:06 AM

It is, unfortunately, more about accountability than anything else. Remember the days when people solved differences between themselves, without the aid of lawyers? In this day and age, it seems more people are looking for someone to “blame” than ever before, and the most likely targets are not those actually responsible, but those who can be sued. So, the government (from whom it seems almost everyone wants their “pound of flesh”) is seen as a ripe target for fixing all the problems, and any government agent/agency (in this case, we’re discussing the TSA, but you can substitute almost any “public service” agency and the story still works) becomes the proxy by which accountability can be parlayed into a nice fat settlement when anything “goes wrong.” So, paranoid (ok, is it still true that you aren’t paranoid if they really are out to get you?) managers enact Draconian policies to try to prevent every conceivable occurrence – and, in the process, usually miss the most obvious stuff. And God forbid you suggest someone try to use common sense – that’s neither a legal defense, nor, in most cases, an acceptable course of action according to the regulations. (And let’s not even start on the idea of hiring minimally educated folks at low wages and then asking them to try to think their way through a situation…but that’s a subject for another post.) No, the unfortunate truth is that we’ve become victims of (a) a world where nothing can be taken for granted, and (b) a society where personal responsibility and accountability for one’s OWN actions have become rare in the extreme.

(I still have to wonder about the guy who tried to bring a gasoline-powered leaf blower onto the aircraft…where did THAT come from?! At what point did he seriously say, “Hey, I’ve got a good idea…”)

And nope, I don’t have any solutions, either, other than trying to make sure I remember to take off/pack my pocket knife before I get on a plane, not yelling at the TSA agent who freaks out when he/she finds it…

JOSE December 28, 2007 10:43 AM


John David Galt December 29, 2007 7:06 PM

9/11 would not have been possible if the feds hadn’t disarmed passengers in the first place.

The right way to keep aircraft secure is the same as the right way to keep all other places secure: allow anyone without a police record to carry whatever concealed weapons he wants.

The only real effect of any laws against carrying weapons is to disarm everyone except those who intend to attack other people. That’s why 31 US states now allow this (and that’s why those states have the lowest rates of violent crime).

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.