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Airport! 2006: Homeland Security edition

Here's a pretty old post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 18 years ago, in 2006, on the World Wide Web.

Here’s how the government is keeping you safe from terrorism:

Within the security community, there’s been a lot of talk about security theater when it comes to the airline business. In the last few years, plenty of new security measures have been put in place — but just because we can see or deal with new security measures (dump your liquids, everyone!), does it actually make us any safer. While there’s been a ton of attention paid in the last week to a security researcher who showed just how easy it was for anyone to create their own boarding pass to get past the security check point, a much scarier story is sent in by Damon, who points out for all of the security changes, new technologies and new processes it doesn’t do a damn bit of good if the TSA screeners let people with weapons through the checkpoint. That’s exactly what happened at Newark airport, where a secret shopper (or should that be secret bomber?) test found that 20 out of 22 weapons got through the security clearing process. Now aren’t you glad that you have to remove your shoes and can’t bring a bottle of water on board any more? If we’re serious about air travel security, then it’s about time that we actually focused on security — not play-acting to make people think that something’s been done.

Here’s Tim Lee’s communique from the Technology Liberation Front:

The fundamental problem here is that the TSA has no particular incentive to make air travel safer. They have to act like they’re responding to terrorist threats, but as long as they appear to be doing something, it doesn’t matter if any of their security measures actually accomplish anything. And, not surprisingly, it appears that to a first approximation, they don’t.

— Tim Lee, Technology Liberation Front (2006-11-02): Oops

Your thought for the day comes courtesy of M. Pierre-Joseph Proudhon; this one goes out to all the folks waiting in line to get and protected by the TSA:

To be GOVERNED is to be watched, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, regulated, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, checked, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right nor the wisdom nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction noted, registered, counted, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, prevented, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be place under contribution, drilled, fleeced, exploited, monopolized, extorted from, squeezed, hoaxed, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, vilified, harassed, hunted down, abused, clubbed, disarmed, bound, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, derided, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality.

P.-J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century (trans. John Beverly Robinson), Epilogue ¶ 39

Further reading:

1 reply to Airport! 2006: Homeland Security edition Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. Laura

    Hah! I mean, sad. I was just telling Bob about this the other day, when he was telling me how he’s “like pro-choice and all” but thinks “the Republicans will do a better job protecting us from terrorists and stuff.” Do a better job when, exactly? Shameless scare tactics plus a three-ring Security Carnival may succeed in making it look like a miracle we haven’t all got blown up, but it hardly amounts to A Safer America.

    Nasty, tricksy, false!

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