Bruce Schneier posted a great story on his blog. He discusses a post on the TSA’s blog: TSA’s Top 10 Good Catches of 2011. The TSA is trying to show how it’s effective and has improved airport security. Obviously, Bruce Schneier disagrees, as do I. Definitely read both pieces, but as a brief aside, aren’t Top 10 lists supposed to list the best of something? Why only “good” catches by the TSA? Strange. Anyway…
As Bruce Schneier points out, the TSA can’t claim that they caught a single terrorist. Instead, just some people who forgot they were carrying guns or knives. But Eric, I can hear you asking, we don’t know that they truly “forgot” those guns. Each of those people could have been a terrorist about to attack! True, I can’t prove a negative, but what I can say is that guns and knives would have been detected before September 11–without TSA’s fancy full body scanners or invasive pat downs.
And the TSA’s number one catch? Chucks of C4? Sounds dangerous. But guess what–the TSA caught it on his return flight. They had already let it through once! This reminded me of the time I brought double-edged razors in my dop kit. Made it form DC to New York just fine. On the way back, a TSA supervisor was monitoring his staff, so they were going through every other bag, including mine. I had to surrender the razors. Yes, I realize the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters, but these were individually wrapped razors in a plastic case. Was I really going to dig into my bag, get out my dop kit, unwrap a single razor–holding it very delicately–and do some damage? No, I wasn’t. And even if someone was so motivated, I don’t think his fellow passengers would have let him get far.
Please excuse the rant, but let me point out that my razors were taken not because of national security or because someone thought I was a terrorist, but so the TSA official could look good in front of his supervisor. That’s what security theater is all about. That’s not an effective way to spend $1.2 billion on airport security. Remember, it’s not about making you safer at the airport, it’s about making you feel safer at the airport. Think about that next time you fly.