Screening the TSA


But the question is: is everything we go through at checkpoints actually making us safer? Security expert Bruce Schneier says no. He says much of it is just "security theater."

"It’s a phrase I coined for security measures that look good, but don’t actually do anything," he explained.

Schneier, who has been an adviser to TSA but also its most persistent thorn-in-the-side, says there are too many silly rules.

Take the baggies for liquids, which became a rule in 2006 when British authorities uncovered a plot to bring liquid bombs on board airliners headed for the U.S.: Schneier says the liquid limits may make us feel safe, but do little to stop terrorists.

"If you try to bring a bottle of liquid onto an airplane, a screener’s going to a see it, look at it, say, ‘Oh, look, it’s a bottle of liquid,’ toss it over her shoulder into a trash can," he said.

Schneier said they don’t test those tossed bottles. "They’re not even scared of it. They put it in a trash can right next to them. That’s where it stays all day. Alright, let’s say I want to smuggle a liquid on an airplane. I go through airport security. If they catch me, I go around and go through again. If they catch me, I go round and go through again. I can do it 100, 1,000 – I can do it all day till I get it through. So because it’s not treated as dangerous, there’s no point in taking it away."

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.