Security in Montana

Three items.

The first is about the difficulty of implementing REAL ID in areas so remote they don’t have a permanent DMV. The second is about airport security at airports so remote they average only two passengers per flight. The third—and this is the best—is Brian Schweitzer, Montana’s governor, speaking about his opposition to REAL ID.

EDITED TO ADD (3/24): More on Montana and REAL-ID.

Posted on March 17, 2008 at 1:17 PM22 Comments


scott March 17, 2008 1:40 PM

You can tell it’s security theatre when…

You no longer consider the value of the assets you’re trying to secure.

Anonymous March 17, 2008 1:44 PM

“screeners will help security and draw passengers to the small airports.”

Who are they kidding? Screeners are doing the exact opposite to larger airports.

John Campbell March 17, 2008 2:00 PM

“Who are they kidding? Screeners are doing the exact opposite to larger airports.”

I will tell you that the screening at a dinky airport like PIE (St Pete/Clearwater, FL) isn’t as awful as found at TPA (Tampa International) which is one of the reasons I prefer to fly through the airport (if there’s a plane going where I want to go).

So it varies.

I suspect this will be one of those things where someone needs to think about a far more resilient system… either that or arm all of the passengers and turn ’em back into citizens instead of subjects.

Of course, there were a lot of “Montanan” jokes after the Unabomber was caught…

Johannes Berg March 17, 2008 2:06 PM

@John Campbell

The point that they make about screening for connecting flights after you’ve already flown to a larger airport does make sense though, if you can’t even check through your luggage from the small airport that’s highly inconvenient.

Jon March 17, 2008 2:11 PM

The Houghton, MI airport security is way better than not having security there and having to go through security at the Minneapolis Airport. You can stand there joking with the TSA people, you don’t have to take off your shoes, and if you arrived more than 30 minutes before your flight leaves you are an idiot.

John Campbell March 17, 2008 2:16 PM

@Johannes Berg

I have to agree that it is inconvenient, but, hey, that seems to be how the TSA defines the word “Security”.

It can be argued that the more centralized and uniform ANY structure is, the value of subverting– whether for profit or other abuses– it goes up and up. The other problem is that this will introduce a “monoculture” which is ALSO far more fragile (brittle?) than multiple competing (yet still cooperative) systems. (I once wrote an item on CyberDiversity which makes some points here, I think.)

In some ways the “wonderful” integration and centralization has made the S&L crisis, the current SubPrime crisis, the Tylenol Poisonings and other abuses– leveraged by the enlarged enterprises– is wonderful for “efficiency” and “economy” (especially economies of scale) but doesn’t provide resiliency. Economic efficiency is, I believe, inversely proportional to Resiliency and Security, because PEOPLE are involved.

Bill March 17, 2008 2:39 PM

if olpc can put a computer in the utter most parts of the world, then someone can figure out how to implement Real ID in remote areas

Consti Tution March 17, 2008 2:54 PM

Yeah, I heard Schweitzer on the topic the other day. He was making way too much sense. Now if we could just talk him into being a Republican … 🙂

bluknight March 17, 2008 3:04 PM

As a transplant into Montana, I have to say that Gov. Schweitzer’s comments are refreshing, even if it means that I’m probably going to have issues with the Feds myself.

A lot of people here in “Big Sky” country are watching this closely, I assure you.

Anonymous March 17, 2008 3:46 PM

“Blah, blah, blah, supposed to be the deadline…”

I love that guy. He’s really refreshing for a politician!

derf March 17, 2008 4:17 PM

So, Montanans fly all over their state with no TSA…and there haven’t been any incidents? Not 1? Shouldn’t congress hold some hearings and get some incidents set up so we can justify the TSA’s existence?

Josh O March 17, 2008 4:45 PM


I’ve been to the Houghton Airport many times (used to live up there). Weird thing is it’s in Hancock. I guess it’s Houghton County. Small world anyway.

Pat Cahalan March 17, 2008 6:11 PM


I like the editorial bit at the end of the interview with the Governor, “DHS says that a Montana driver’s license will be equivalent to no license”.

I’m going to love seeing this one go up to SCOTUS.

bzelbob March 17, 2008 9:32 PM

Best Quote…Ever… =:)

“We’re putting up with the federal government on so many fronts, and nearly every month they come out with another hare-brained scheme … to tell us that our life is going to be better if we just buckle under on some other kind of rule or regulation. And we usually just play along for a while. We ignore ’em for as long as we can. We try not to bring it to a head but if it comes to a head we found that it’s best to tell them to go to Hell and run the state the way you want to run your state.”

He’s got more of a clue in his little finger than the DHS has in their entire department!

Mark March 18, 2008 4:52 AM

Does any one no how (and why) a document for proving that someone had passed a driving test, effectivly a “machine operators permit”, ended up being treated as identity document?

Especially in matters completly unrelated to driving on public roads, even activities which are logically mutually exclusive with driving. (Such as buying alcohol.)

What does entering a US Government building or being a passenger (I suspect that crew would typically carry passports) on an aircraft have to do with driving on a public road?

Randolph Fritz March 18, 2008 5:03 AM

Wow. The Montana governor sounds like a real nutcase. I’m glad there’s some real opposition, but still… and what the devil is going to happen at those airports?

Anonymous March 18, 2008 7:39 AM

@Randolph Fritz

“what the devil is going to happen at those airports”

A large number of people will discover that it is possible to fly without ID:

Ironically for the DHS, TSA and other agencies, this could be a bad decision if they go through with their threat. Whici is why I suspect they will not actually carry through…

bob March 18, 2008 8:26 AM

@Randolph Fritz: Nutcase? He sounds like the first actual patriot in public office since it became an “act” instead of a philosophy. I wish he’d move to Ohio, I would vote for him in a heartbeat.

Rich March 19, 2008 11:55 AM

For those who troll and often don’t access the original, I suggest you take the time to listen to the Montana governor. You will find it time well spent. He is entertaining… and right.

JimFive March 19, 2008 3:10 PM

@Josh O

Actually, I’m pretty sure Houghton County Memorial Airport is in Keweenaw county. Always thought that was odd when I was up there.

How are things at the End of the Earth?

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