Chris Bulow August 7, 2009 8:24 AM

As always, it’s a theatre of the absurd, designed only to be “seen to be doing something”. Quite what really doesn’t appear to matter. And that’s worldwide.

AlanS August 7, 2009 9:55 AM

Yes, theater of the absurd. I don’t think the argument below applies to the TSA as they obviously aren’t reassuring.

From BlackHat 2009 Day 2 – Bruce “Reconceptualizing”

“One of the things I loved the most was Bruce’s final acknowledgement that “security theater” is actually beneficial: specifically, if PERCEIVED risk is higher than the REAL risk, what one needs is to be be reassured and feel good. Guess what? Security theater provides it! Air travel is pretty darn safe, but a lot of folks are afraid: thus, we have TSA, the ultimate in “security theater.” This argument actually makes sense, as long as the false boost to security does not overcome the actual state of being secure – you need to get them to feel as secure as they are secure, but not more. Get it? :-)”

ed August 7, 2009 10:34 AM


Arguably, current air travel is less safe, because there is now a higher number of trusted people who can inflict damage (“trusted” != “trustworthy”). Not only major damage (insider attacks), but petty damage like stealing things from luggage. In the past, there was far less inspection of baggage contents, and now that there’s more, pilferage opportunities are higher.

anonymous canuck August 7, 2009 11:12 AM

Has anyone seen the Bill of Rights Security Edition …

for that extra attention at the airport.

I wonder if anyone has the brass to carry that through security?

While wearing the t-shirt with the RSA algorthim bar coded on the front.

Timm Murray August 7, 2009 12:07 PM

@AlanS: That’s true as far as it goes, but it’s also important to consider the cost of your Security Theater. Taking a few cheap steps to make perception match reality is fine. However, even just considering the budget line item, the TSA is not cheap.

Rafal Los August 7, 2009 12:52 PM

This is even more creepy if you’ve seen “The Orphan” recently. I forget but there is a name for a real disease where a child stops growing, but keeps aging – I can see it now… Jihad with an army of 30-something kids… Arg.

This is almost not fun anymore… Picking on the TSA is just so easy, it’s old news!… But still worth a chuckle.

Fred P August 7, 2009 1:41 PM

@anonymous canuck

Ah… they wouldn’t recognize the t-shirt, anyway.

My main disappointment is that they miss an amendment to the Bill of Rights that passed. Just because it didn’t pass until 1992 dosen’t mean that it wasn’t part of the Bill of Rights that passed the Senate. 🙂

11 down, 1 to go… Oh? That one would largely be irrelevant, now that there are over 10,000,000 citizens?

Clive Robinson August 10, 2009 4:39 PM

In the UK a 49 year old German passenger finally lost it and did what we all don’t have the courage to do,

He was later released after accepting a caution.

Personally I think he should have rejected the caution and as he is an EU citizen and it was land side in the EU he should have pointed out that he has a right to “freedom of expression” (which is protected under European Human Rights legislation and UK Courts have already ruled that being naked in a public place is a “freedom of expression” and is protected).

Randy August 13, 2009 10:21 AM

I recently flew with my family – wife, daughter (18), son (15) and me. Son is 5’10, looks like a rock star (long hair, sunglasses, baggy clothes, etc.) and duaghter looks small by comparison, she’s 5’6 and slight build. Guess who’s drivers license thay wanted to see – his – and he does not have one. fun explaining that one…. Luck for us mom is very patient – i was ready to scream. I should try that naked traveler thing next time!

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.