Thursday, November 15, 2007

Prepare: More Government Idiocy Coming to an Airport Near You

Airport security. That's one of the dumbest, least effective and most disruptive government programs in existence. I know this is completely off topic, and has nothing to do with personal finance, but since I am headed for the airport this morning for an international trip, I thought I would expose you to this little rant. AND... here is the best part. CNN reported yesterday that:

" Investigators with bomb-making components in their luggage and on their person were able to pass through security checkpoints at 19 U.S. airports without detection, according to the Government Accountability Office."

Oh yes, they did, and if you are a frequent air traveler that should not surprise you one bit. Airport security is completely impotent. They are very capable at disrupting traffic, randomly searching 80 year old ladies and making business travelers take off their shoes and laptops. As we all know, shampoos pose a mortal threat to civil aviation and hence the common police saying:

"Sir, put the head-and-shoulders down and step away from the vehicle."

So as explained above the good folks at the GAO just proved that airport security is completely ineffective. Do you think that the TSA now understands the error of their ways? Do you think that they are likely to stop making you take off your shoes, relinquish your tooth-paste or search your grandmother? Not by a long shot. Here is what I foresee as the likely outcome: be prepared for more stringent and completely meaningless security measures.

Here is a hint of things to come (quote from the same article):

"Although it would not discuss the specific nature of its recommendations, the GAO said it recommended establishing special screening lines based on risk and passengers with special needs. The TSA should introduce more "aggressive, visible and unpredictable" measures to detect concealed items and develop new technology for screening at checkpoints."

And here is an even better quote from the article, from venerable TSA chief Kip Hawley:

"Our ongoing success is a result of the tremendous power in the reinforced, multiple layers. Truly, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts -- and together, they are formidable."

Yes, and my amazing success at keeping pink elephants from invading my living room is the result of my formidable defensive efforts, the special kind of screening process I inflict upon my guests, and the numerous pink elephant traps that I have strategically positioned around my drive way. Give me a break.

Before you label me as a crank and an unrealistic idealist who is "anti security" (which is almost as bad these days as being pronounced a communist or a liberal), do I have a better solution? Hell, yes. For one thing, how about we start using some common sense here. Your 80 year old grandma or three year old boy that I saw going through a pat-down during one of my trips are NOT terrorists. Yes, use your chemical sensors to look for explosives. Use your explosive sniffing dogs. The politically correct should now cover their ears: how about we use profiling to assess high risk passengers? There are intelligent things you can do to actually increase security. Real security, not the pretend kind.

Leave my laptop, shoes and shampoo alone, you buffoons.

It was Ben Franklin himself who said: "Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither, and Will Lose Them Both." I am humbled by his eloquence.


FinanceAndFat said...

Well said, and I agree 100%, but did you just ask a government agency to use common sense? :)

I'm afraid nothing will get better at the airport until people start to fly less and it hurts someone's pocketbook.

Anonymous said...

Are you aware of a new program by the TSA where you get security clearance and can bypass normal security lines?

I just saw it in SJC and it costs $99/year. They use you Iris scan and fingerprint and run a background check on you.

Supposedly, it will give you access to an express security line.

Shadox said...

AND the latest news... my son got patter down by the always brilliant TSA at San Francisco Airport.

In other great news: do you know those TSA folks that check your ID when you get in line for security? Did you notice that in recent months one checks your ID, while another stands behind him to make sure that he checked your ID...? Your tax dollars at work folks.

Anonymous said...

A few things you probably didn't know about airport security:

As part of their extensive training, each TSA screener has memorized each and every one of the thousands of names and faces in the terrorist names database. When your I.D. is checked, they know what they are looking for. Trust me. They know if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

Six ounces of liquid in two three ounce containers is different than six ounces of liquid in a six ounce container. The TSA has proven that it is impossible for terrorists to combine two three ounce containers into a six ounce container. The process, called “pouring”, is unknown to the terrorist world, and is considered classified by the Bush Administration.

Thanks to their unique dimensions and secret faith based qualities, quart sized plastic bags are completely explosion proof. The TSA, Boeing, and DARPA and jointly developing a terrorist proof airliner which is covered entirely in explosive quart sized plastic bags.

The process of removing one’s shoes (“The Richard Reid Maneuver”) is required because the average shoe cannot be placed in an explosion proof, quart sized bag.

guinness416 said...

As someone who has done almost all of her travel for the last decade, international and domestic, with a young Muslim guy - if you think they're not profiling, you're out of your mind.