>Stupid Security Theater


That didn’t take long:

DALLAS – Airline officials say in-flight security rules have been eased after a two-day clampdown.
At the captain’s discretion, passengers can once again have blankets and other items on their laps or move about the cabin during the tail end of flight, two industry officials briefed on the situation said Monday.

It was a stupid rule to begin with.

Airline travel has just gotten substantially suckier thanks to our ridiculous Transportation Security Administration:

“Among other things, during the final hour of flights, customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage or have personal belongings or other items on their laps,” the airline said.

Look, in the interest of safer air travel, I will accept pat-downs and more scrutiny of my carry-on bags. But this “remain seated for the last hour of flight with nothing in your lap” bullshit is the last straw.

What does the “last” hour of flight have to do with anything? Just because the foiled Detroit attack took place in the “last” hour of flight, do you think they all have to be that way? Why not the first hour of flight? The second? How arbitrary and ridiculous. Al Qaeda is laughing their asses off at us.

Second of all, anyone who has ever traveled with children knows you simply cannot keep them locked in their seat for a full hour, no trips to the bathroom, no access to personal belongings, no toys, no games, hell not even a blanket. Good luck with that. Oh, and I’m sure the flight crews will have a grand ol’ time wiping urine off the seats.

Am I the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous that our safety screening is based on foiled terrorist plots? Richard Reed failed to light his shoes on fire so now we all take our shoes off at security. Some other terrorists failed to mix liquids into an explosive, so now you can’t take liquids through security. And now we have to stay out of the bathroom and twiddle our thumbs for an hour.

As I wrote last year when an eager TSA employee in Dallas stole took labeled my niece’s Christmas gift contraband:

Thank God the Maxwell Smart of terrorists didn’t have an exploding pen, or we’d all have our writing implements confiscated at security.

It seems to me there’s a better way to do this. Telling me I can’t read a freaking magazine for the last hour of flight or take a pee after you’ve plied me with ginger ale for two hours doesn’t seem to be the right approach. I’d rather we figured out how someone on the terror watch list was able to board an aircraft with a bomb strapped to his balls, when I can’t even get a damn bottle of Dasani past security.

Y’all ever think of that?

No, Janet Napolitano, our system did not work.

How about a little extra pat-down to the guy on our terror watch list who was denied an entry visa to the United Kingdom last spring? I realize hindsight is 20/20 and I don’t know all of the ins and outs of airline security but it seems like treating every single person like a potential terrorist accomplishes nothing, when there are actual, concrete things we should be doing to make air travel safer.

In my post last year I linked to this Salon.com “Ask The Pilot” column, in which a pilot had this to say about airport security:

What we need is a TSA willing to concede that the real nuts and bolts of keeping terrorists away from planes take place well out of view. We need to immediately rescind most of the rules restricting sharp objects and liquids, with a return to basic screening for firearms and bombs. With respect to the latter, the emphasis should be put squarely on improved anti-explosives screening of all luggage and cargo.

And although the attacks of 2001 took place on U.S. soil, the greater threats are at airports abroad. American carriers now operate throughout Asia, South America, Africa and beyond, where they remain potentially high-profile targets for extremist groups or rogue terrorists. Here we are confiscating scissors from somebody’s grandmother in Indianapolis when most of our security in foreign countries is outsourced to local authorities. How about relocating some of our domestic manpower overseas to help prevent a bombing or shoot-down?

All of those things would be nice. How about those new liquid-explosive screening devices soon to be available in the EU? Can we get some of those in the U.S., please?

I’m tired of these ridiculous security rules designed to give the appearance that we are doing something when in fact we are doing nothing at all. If we’re going to have terror watch lists, for crying out loud, use them.


Filed under air travel, terrorism, TSA

25 responses to “>Stupid Security Theater

  1. >Airline travel has just gotten substantially suckier thanks to our ridiculous Transportation Security AdministrationWOw, something we actually agree on.Too bad you can't apply the same thing to gun control. I guess you're OK with that "inconvenience" since it doesn't directly impact you.

  2. >I would hope it does affect me. I would hope the minor inconvenience you experience prevents a crazy nut like Seung-Hui Cho or Gator Taylor from getting their hands on a deadly weapon and using it to open fire at the next school or post office where I'm waiting in line to do my business. Gun people always say we don't need more laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have. But the laws are riddled with loopholes, like the gun show sale loophole. It's as if we decided to allow some passengers to sail through security without being checked at all.And the NRA's answer seems to be the problem isn't too many guns but not enough. Well then let's just let everyone on board airplanes with bombs in their underwear. That would be the parallel argument.

  3. >The last hour of travel is when the airplane is at its most vulnerable. Locked into a lower altitude traffic pattern with less room to manuever and usually over high-density population areas. This guy whose crotch caught on fire intended to blow the plane right over suburban Detroit — killing people on board AND dropping an airliner onto some suburb to kill even more people. No books, no laptops, no nothing in your lap. Hands on your knees. Eyes front. Jesus, basic training 40 years ago was easier. I'm taking the train, bus or driving if its under 1500 miles. And Mike W.. your comments would carry more weight if you didn't inject the little neener-neener-neener stuff at the end of your posts. We already know you don't agree with SoBe on most everything. Let your argument speak for itself: the grade-school taunts don't effect her I'm sure and only make YOU and your argument appear weak and ineffectual. Proud Socialist

  4. >The simplest solution is to upgrade all airport baggage handling systems and make folks who want to have a carryon send it through a scanner and a sniffer–one that is operated by someone who is well paid, appropriately trained and not being rushed by airport management. Oh, yeah, charge folks a nominal fee, say $50bucks per carryon.As for people getting up to go the bathroom, etc., well, we'll just have to wear Depends.

  5. >Charge people $50 for carryon? Why? First the airlines lose your bags, then they make it impossible for you to carry them with you.Nah, screw it. I'm driving. Amtrak is looking pretty good, too.

  6. >ThresherK here.I haven't set foot on an airplane since 2000. Not choosing to avoid, but no actual need. And less and less idly dreaming of wanting to fly with each passing year.If we want to get serious about this, one thing that would help is getting rid of ignorant news reportage which doesn't include the words "security theater". However, if you do that, you won't have much left.PS I know I'm late to the party, but (if I understand correctly) you used to pay $10 annually for the privilege (sic) of reading feedback from the likes of myself and others here. Wow. Good thing you switched; my opinions are sooooo not worth that.

  7. >Demo – Yeah, let's put the final nail in the coffin of the airline industry. That's what your plan would do.Socialist – That wasn't a shot at SB, it is simply my pointing out her glaring logical inconsistency. She doesn't want to be further inconvenienced by TSA under the guise of "safety" yet she wants others to be further inconvenienced by more gun control.

  8. >ThresherK:No, no, no. Haloscan was free! But now they got bought out by some company (JS-Kit) and have "enhanced" to something called Echo, which would cost me $10 a year plus as a commenting program it sucks huge rocks. So I had to switch to Blogger's default program which is also free.So, while your comments might have been worth $10 a year, I can't say as much for some of the other folks who visit this place. 🙂

  9. >But now they got bought out by some company (JS-Kit) and have "enhanced" to something called Echo, which would cost me $10 a year."Bought out". That alllwaaaays works; ask a SAAB user.So, while your comments might have been worth $10 a yearThanx, but I stand by my previous statement. :-0

  10. >Telling me I can’t read a freaking magazine for the last hour of flight or take a pee after you’ve plied me with ginger ale for two hours doesn’t seem to be the right approach.At least until the rest of the airlines start charging for ginger ale.I've taken Amtrak between St. Louis and Chicago twice now. It's very convenient and costs less. But oh, we can't have that in Tennessee, because trains are a socialist plot!

  11. >And of course with all of this security theater for air travel terrorists could just as easily hit Amtrak or any other mass transit system….This is all just a guise. The government exerts controls that make it appear like they are doing something to "keep us safe" It's actually an ingenious way of convincing the masses that they need to have their freedoms restricted.Fear is great for that (see Patriot Act & Gun Control for further examples)"Gun Control – It's what you do instead of something." I think that same basic sentiment can be applied to the security theater we are subjected to at airports.

  12. >I must admit to being slightly snarky with the $50 per carryon. Otoh, we are already paying for stowed luggage on a lot of airlines. Trust me, they will get around to monetizing the shitters on the airliners in due time. I haven't been overseas in years but I have friends who have travelled the world for the last 40 years and what they think sets the U.S. apart from most other nations is the unwillingness of our citizens to be inconvenienced by enhanced security measures. I'm not saying that we aren't. I'm saying that we piss and moan about it, a lot. A friend of mine was at Frankfurt International a while back (before the WTC attack in 2001) and said that he saw German Federal Police riding around the concourses with fully automatic weapons. Other people I know have been in and out of Israel and other countries that are targets or the krazees and they say that those people do NOT fuck around. I don't like what goes on at the airports (and, increasingly at train stations and some bus stations in major urban areas). But the main reason I don't like it, is because I think it's ineffective and a large waste of time.It's a bit like going to a concert and hearing the announcement about turning off cellphones and not using them or cameras with flash during a performance. People hear the announcement and think, "Well, that doesn't apply to ME.". We're a bit on selfish side, as a society.

  13. >You don't like it because it's ineffective, yet you proudly support gun control, even an "assault weapons ban?"Sometimes I really wonder how the thought processes of anti-gunners actually work, then I remember that it's not thought at all, but rather an irrational, purely emotional response.

  14. >Here is a good old article about how our security is working for us… It was first brought to my attention on a post by James Fallows many months ago.I am amazed at how a mere hobby has become the focus of so many. The these people their hobby is more important than any other issue; funny and nutty.

  15. >The problem is that the people given responsibility for security aren't also given any responsibility for comfort, inconvenience or cost. Bruce Schneier is a security expert who agrees with you on basing security on the last specific plot. He is in favor of armored cockpit doors and intelligence gathering, and not much else that we didn't do before 9/11.The shoe bomber meant we had to remove our shoes–Will the underwear bomber response follow that pattern?

  16. Jim

    >Just wait until someone trys to smuggle a bomb on board shoved up their ass… Screenings will be fun then :p.

  17. >Will the underwear bomber response follow that pattern?Well have you seen those new "whole body" scanners that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination? I think we have our answer …

  18. >Perhaps we can have a contest — who can get something that any reasonable person would say should be allowed on the plane, but the TSA tsks-tsks. Oh, wait. That would be immature. Screw it. Let's do it anyway.

  19. >And what are we going to do? Put body scanners everywhere that some terrorist could set off a bomb and kill a large number of people?Further intrusions upon the privacy of Americans will not stop those who wish to kill Americans

  20. >I would hope the minor inconvenience you experience prevents a crazy nut like Seung-Hui Cho or Gator Taylor from getting their hands on a deadly weapon and using it to open fire at the next school or post office where I'm waiting in line to do my business.Oh wait! Those post offices and college campuses are "Gun-Free Zones" which did nothing to deter "crazy nuts" but certainly "inconvenienced" the victims and every person who obeys the laws about carrying firearms.We are inconvenience, meanwhile those who would do us harm are undeterred by the laws. (amazing, violent criminals breaking the law…)

  21. >Cerulean – Like say an electric toothbrush in a child's carry-on bag?

  22. >@Mike W wrote: "…. I really wonder how the thought processes of anti-gunners actually work, then I remember that it's not thought at all, but rather an irrational, purely emotional response."Mike, that's called "trolling". Don't expect anyone to take you seriously.

  23. Jim

    >Bill – Yesterday my coworker had a security agent question his wall plug in adapter for his I-Phone because he did not also have the adapter cord with him at the time. He was making a same day trip from Memphis to Denver and back with no bags except his computer case. The security guy actually had to ask his supervisor if the plug adapter was allowed on the plane.

  24. >"Mike, that's called "trolling". Don't expect anyone to take you seriously."Maybe if Ms. Beale hadn't written a series of posts about ineffective and meaningless laws that she supports (and even took the time to list them out here)And then at the same time is pointing out ineffective and meaningless laws that outrage her.To tie it all into a nutshell. There are millions of people who own, keep, and bear arms every day and cause NO problems.There are people who own, make, and use explosives every day and cause no problems.Meanwhile there are criminals and terrorists who misuse guns and explosives to cause us all harms. Also criminals and terrorists are adaptive. Gangs like MS-13 almost exclusively use Machetes for their assaults and murders.http://weerdbeard.livejournal.com/607657.htmlI did a series of posts on a British youtube campaign about knife crime…where the knife used in the videos is a cheap paring knife. The planes brought down on September 11th were taken over with nothing more than the standard razor-knife box-cutters we ALL have in our tool boxes.Ms. Beale speaks of Seung Cho, Gator Taylor, and, Abdul Mudallad.All dangerous people actively violating US laws, all with dangerous pasts, all with enough dirty deeds under their belts to be arrested on sight by police.The problems we face are NOT law and policy problems, they're ENFORCEMENT problems.We don't need more screeners or fancier equipment, or longer lines, or people patting us down. We need police going after the criminals, and we need judges to appropriately sentence people who would do us harm, and we need prisons and execution chambers so that those convicted will not be in a position to do us harm.Maybe emotionally that doesn't sound like as sound a plan as implementing more laws that in the end will do nothing. But the laws we have work very VERY well…the problem is we don't want to use them.

  25. >As Weer'd says, I did nothing more than point out the glaring logical inconsistencies and hypocrisy of Southern Beale.In fact, I agree with her on this issue, which some of you might realize if you'd bothered to read my 1st comment.