Bruce Schneier and former TSA boss Kip Hawley debate air security on The Economist

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74 Responses to “Bruce Schneier and former TSA boss Kip Hawley debate air security on The Economist

  1. Funk Daddy says:

    Hey now, there are definitely benefit provided by the TSA. Here are a few:

    1. False, unsustainable economic stimulus 

    2. Comedic material

    3… ??

    oh well

    • Rich Keller says:

      Don’t forget 4. Profit!!!

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      In answer to #1, you will get just as big a workforce, although privatized and even less accountable, but still following bad TSA policy as dictated by bosses like Hawley and now Pistole.  So things will be the same, or worse, but you will have struck a huge blow for labor.  Well played neoliberals.

      Giving TSA workers *full* collective bargaining rights would have given them some say in security policy, so much for that.

      • LinkMan says:

        Eliminate ID checks, the behavior detection officer program, nude picture machines, groping, swabbing, the shoe carnival, the liquids ban, the air marshal program and all the training and equipment maintenance  associated with those security theater measures and you would have a much, much smaller workforce.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           I kinda doubt that really.  It doesn’t look like workers are usually tied to ‘only’ swabbing or pat downs or whatever.  I’m all for getting rid of the egregious ‘theater’ policies.  No doubt.

          • LinkMan says:

            A security checkpoint used to require about 3 people.  One to watch the x-ray screen, one to make sure you went through the metal detector, and one to check you more closely if you set it off.

            Now they need roughly twice as many people per checkpoint:  someone has to check ID, at least one or two more people are needed for the increased groping/swabbing/liquids-scavenging/wallet-rifling, someone has to move all the shoe and laptop bins back landside after they go through the x-ray, sometimes someone asks you innocuous questions to see if you answer like a terrorist, and a supervisor watches them all.   For checkpoints with a nude-o-scope, there are also a couple of blueshirts in a room somewhere checking out your junk. AND they need more checkpoints per passenger because it all takes so much longer.

            Plus with all the additional equipment and procedures, they have armies of repair technicians, trainers and middle managers behind the scenes.

            I’m ignoring checked baggage screeners, because I think we’d want to keep some version of that (at least the x-rays–I’m less interested in the actual bag-riflers, as they tend to steal things). 

            And I’ll spare you my anti-air-marshal tirade. :)

    • dioptase says:

       3. Free health screenings.  They might not have caught any terrorists, but they’ve caught 824 prostate, 4651 breast cancers, and an undisclosed number of colon cancers.

  2. shane castille says:

    Problem I have with all of this, is in the other parts of the world that do not have TSA agents at airport, were are all the planes crashing into everything. There are no desasters happing on weekly basis. There are none, for after 9/11, to make any dusturbance on a plane is taken as a potital terrirost act, and dewlt with as so, even on airlines with no TSA.

    • EH says:

      Those countries obviously aren’t popular enough to have terrorists wanting to attack them, or in other words, Microsoft’s security attitude towards Windows circa 2002.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

       You’re making the same argument as Hawley.

    • DevinC says:

      These nations may not be terrorist targets.  One nation which does not have TSA-style body cans but undoubtedly is a terrorist target is Israel.  You may want to look into what security measures they’ve enacted; they’re apparently pretty successful.

  3. Erin W says:

    Shorter Kip Hawley: “But I haven’t seen any tigers since I started carrying this stone!”

  4. cholten99 says:

    I may just be tired by all I saw in Kip Hawley’s statement was “Blah blah blah blah blah blah – fear the bogeyman!!”

  5. iamlegion says:

    Right off the bat, Hawley is full of crap.
    More than 6 billion consecutive safe arrivals of airline passengers since the attacks on America on September 11th 2001 mean that whatever the annoying and seemingly obtuse airport-security measures may have been, they have been ultimately successful.
    No. No it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that at all. A good suggestion for Schneier is to beat everyone over the head with correlation-vs-causation.

    • Cynical says:

      “I have kicked a puppy every day since 9/11 and there hasn’t been a successful terrorist plot since then, so me kicking puppies is clearly preventing terrorism!”

      • Lemoutan says:

        Now I’m fearful that you may stop kicking puppies. Please don’t stop kicking puppies. I do hope you have adequate contingency plans in place for the eternal continuance of kicking puppies.

    •  “6 billion consecutive safe arrivals” isn’t even true, since the ‘enhanced post-9/11 security’ has been responsible for several killings (eg, air marshal in the sky bridge in Miami) taserings, and beatings.

  6. shannigans says:

    Every morning I wake up and shake a can of pennies to scare off the cancer.  In the last ten years I haven’t gotten cancer, so obviously it works.  These are the facts people.

  7. Deidzoeb says:

    How well can we expect a guy to perform in a debate when he isn’t even sure of the proposition? Hawley says, “If the question is whether the changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good, the answer is no.” There’s no IF about it. That’s the proposition he’s been asked to debate. Are all things as unclear to him as this?

    • Sean Mangan says:

       To be fair – I hear this all the time in debates.
      “If the proposition is X, then the proposition is true/false.”
      Usually, this is said with strong emphasis on the last word to sell the (non-existent) point.

  8. MrWoods says:

    “resilient society careening through ten tumultuous years”

    You keep using that word (careen) I do not think it means what you think it means.  Also:

    “whatever the annoying and seemingly obtuse airport-security measures may have been”

    There is no question about what the measures were.  Are you alluding to the fact that some measures were secret, or is that just how you speak.

  9. davenicholls says:

    While I agree with much of what is said here, the point has to be made that Schneier’s assertion that “the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has not foiled a single terrorist plot or caught a single terrorist” doesn’t allow for people being deterred from even trying because of the security changes.

    I would be more than happy if my local police never caught a criminal, as long as there wasn’t any crime.

    Dave

    • Nonentity says:

       Would you be just as happy if your local police department spent (and demanded) increasingly large amounts of money while there continued to be no crime and no criminal arrests?  Or if there were only one narrow aspect of crime they were spending this money on?

      • davenicholls says:

        I’m beginning to regret adding the police paragraph. It wasn’t central to my main point, but to try to answer your question.

        I would get unhappy at some point, but it’s difficult to know where that point is. As it stands I would personally allow my police costs to go quite a lot higher before I even started to question them.

        I just did a quick google and it would appear that the direct costs of 9/11 (compensation fund, clean up etc, but not the ensuing war) amount to around $8 billion, which appears to be the same as the TSA budget. Therefore the TSA needs to prevent (either by catching or deterring) one 9/11 sized event per year to break even.

        I should point out that I’m British so I don’t fund the TSA, although I do travel to the US quite often so I have experience of their activities.

        As I said above though, my main point is that you cannot simply ignore deterrence when assessing the TSA’s performance. It surprises me that Schneier, whose work I read and respect, apparently does.

        Dave

        • Nonentity says:

           Schneier doesn’t ignore deterrence.  What he does point out is that we can get a lot of deterrence for very little increased spending; given that, it’s the TSA’s responsibility to quantify the deterrence they are responsible for and justify it against what we lose due to their increasing impact on our lives.

          Locked and reinforced cockpit doors, and a traveling public that is far more inclined to attack anyone who attempts a hijacking, do far more to deter attempts to recreate 9/11 than a TSA employee confiscating nail clippers could ever accomplish.

          • davenicholls says:

            Schneier give the TSA no credit for deterrence and asserts that there is none because amateurs would have been caught by pre 9/11 security and well organised terrorists will just find a way round the current travel regulations by changing tactics.
            I simply cannot agree that this is valid. It is impossible to know who may have been dissuaded from acting because barriers have been raised, however ineptly it has been done.

            To the point that the TSA is backward looking and ‘professional’ terrorists will find another way, this is probably true, but not acting to close attack vectors once they’ve become known would be stupid.

            Dave

          • Nonentity says:

            @davenicholls:disqus
            “not acting to close attack vectors once they’ve become known would be stupid”

            Playing whack-a-mole with attack vectors is similarly stupid.  It’s impossible to cover every possible form of attack on the security proceedures – just ask a prison guard.  Since we’re not stripped naked and handcuffed before flying (yet), the only thing you get with this viewpoint is an ever-increasing list of rules and false positives.  And since each passenger only has an infinitesimal chance of being a terrorist, there are a LOT of false positives.

            Likewise, it’s rather stupid to waste time and money on attack vectors that cannot work either because they are stupid or because other, simpler methods have already negated their usefulness.  And yet, we still have bottles of water and fingernail clippers being confiscated.

            It’s extremely easy to come up with new attack vectors that would either get through TSA screening or would bypass it.  But the simple changes that have been made would still prevent another disaster.

    • LinkMan says:

      Schneier directly addresses the deterrence argument.   Even if we assume you’re correct that TSA deters terrorism against airplanes, though, it does nothing to deter terrorism against any of the bajillion other potential targets in the United States.  If I was a terrorist, after 9/11 I would have dropped the focus on airplanes and started looking at shopping malls, movie theaters, train stations, sporting events, etc.   Spending billions of dollars to take nude pictures of my children at the airport doesn’t deter that.

      Now take your local police analogy.   Would you be happy if your town already had almost no crime but after some kids stole some beer from the 7-11, the police quadrupled their budget, banned the transport of all beverages within city limits  by anyone other than licensed beverage transporters, and got court approval to do random searches at any time and any place to assure compliance?

      [edited to add: Nonentity's response was much better than mine. My beer analogy is a little silly....]

      • davenicholls says:

        Just to be clear. I’m not saying that the TSA does act as a deterrent, I’m saying that it’s wrong to assert that it doesn’t because you cannot know that.

        To your point, why would you have moved your focus away from planes? Because of the TSA? If so, then if the TSA goes away why wouldn’t you move it back?

        I don’t understand how saying that the TSA doesn’t deter any other form of terrorism addresses the deterrence argument. Is the TSA supposed to do that? Would those threats be deterred by the removal of the TSA?

        There are lots of other targets (As I mentioned in another comment I’m British, we have quite a lot of experience of terrorists blowing things up in the last few decades)  but an aeroplane full of fuel with a captive audience of victims is always going to be at the top of the list.

        Dave

        • Baldhead says:

           I very much disagree with the assertion that planes are a primary target simply because of the rarity of such attacks.  Hijackings happen just about never and weren’t very common even before metal detectors. Hijacking to crash the plane has been done exactly once. And required a very large amount of preparation. What does get attacked a lot, at least in the middle east is buses, places of worship and other large- ish gatherings. It’s easy to suggest that the lack of terrorist attacks in the US has nothing at all to do with the TSA and much more to do with either the FBI catching anyone planning it or the lack of any serious terrorists in the first place.

          • davenicholls says:

            I think the issue here is that the game somewhat changed.

            Hijacks were never that common, but those that did occur were generally people who were hoping to live through the process. Generally the authorities were unlikely to call their bluff so there would be negotiations. Mostly these negotiations served to get the plane on the ground where, from the hijacker’s point of view, it turns into a trap.

            Then someone decided that using the plane as a weapon rather than a bargaining chip would be a good idea, and it worked very well.

            After that it hasn’t happened again, but I don’t see how you can safely say that the security changes haven’t played a part in that. Any terrorist wants to make a splash and is likely to balance the choice of target against the likelihood of success. 

            Arguing that planes aren’t considered primary targets because they haven’t been used since doesn’t allow for the difficulties in using them.

        • LinkMan says:

          To your point, why would you have moved your focus away from planes?

          Not because of the TSA.  It would be infinitely harder to pull off another 9/11 attack because of the combination of (1) hardened cockpit doors and (2) passengers and crew who, once they learned of what happened to AA11 and UA175,  have repeatedly demonstrated their ability and determination to fight back against bad guys on planes.  

          It’s possible that a truly diabolical terrorist group who figured out how to incapacitate all the passengers and crew could still pull off a 9/11 style airliner-as-missile attack.  But the deterrence is the passengers and crew, not the TSA (or air marshals for that matter).

          As for straight up bombing of airplanes, a couple of measures instituted under the TSA (screening checked bags and airport workers) are probably worthwhile and do make it a little harder to bomb a plane.  But you don’t need $8B a year for them.   And there are still plenty of ways to bring down a plane if you are crazy enough to want to.

          I don’t understand how saying that the TSA doesn’t deter any other form of terrorism addresses the deterrence argument. Is the TSA supposed to do that?

          Good point.  Let me refine: If there were people out there actively trying to terrorize the US and the TSA was successfully deterring them from attacking planes, I would think they would have managed to hit some other target by now. 

        • AnthonyC says:

           “I don’t see how you can safely say that the security changes haven’t played a part in that.”

          Your error lies in using the word “the.” The changes are not an indivisible unit. Yes, some security changes have been effective. Formally, reinforced and locked cockpit doors, and more air marshals. Informally, passengers who won’t sit idly bye during  hijacking.

          But removing my shoes, using the rapiscan machines, and making me throw out a bottle of water and tube of toothpaste? Not so much.

          • LinkMan says:

            I challenge your assertion about air marshals.   They’re useful only in the extremely narrow band of scenarios where (1) they happen to be on the right plane, (2) the terrorists are diabolical enough to incapacitate the passengers and crew (who have proven again and again since 9/11 that they’ll fight back) and (3) the terrorists aren’t diabolical enough to incapacitate the air marshals (or worse yet, figure out how to use the marshals’ weapons for their own ends–not that far-fetched given how easy FAMs are to spot).

            Since 9/11, air marshals have scrambled fighter jets in response to Indian guys swapping SIM cards after takeoff, shot to death a mentally ill man who ran off the plane at the gate yelling that he had a bomb, and played many, many video games on their government issued PDAs.   Meanwhile passengers and crew have stopped the shoe bomber, the undie bomber, the Canary Islands coffee-in-the-face gunman and countless drunk and mentally ill people who tried to rush the cockpit or otherwise acted out.

            I’d rather the talents of the air marshals be directed elsewhere.

          • AnthonyC says:

             @LinkMan:disqus I’m willing to concede that one. I only meant to point out that just because at least one security change has had non-zero positive impact, doesn’t mean that the others must go along with it.

    • Funk Daddy says:

      Wrong. Every effort has been made to quantify the deterrent effect of the TSA to no avail. Just as Schneier points out, quite correctly, that the TSA would trot out proudly any example of their directly preventing an attack, so too would they trot out any evidence of deterrence, which would likely be had if it were there.

      The hole in your assumption of deterrent effect is a lack of evidence that any particular group turned to other means as a result. 

      So by the evidence either the groups don’t exist, would not have acted, or tried some other means after planning to use commercial airliners as target/means before 9/11.

      Given the substantial efforts of the US security apparatus over the past 11 years, there is far more likely to have been such evidence than otherwise if it existed, so a far more likely generalization than your own is that no attacks were deterred specifically of the TSA effort.

      You use the same argument as Hawkley applied differently, as do I, but I demand that a lack of evidence is a lack of evidence, where you and Hawkley presume a lack of evidence is itself evidence.

      • davenicholls says:

        There can be no evidence of people choosing to do nothing, so there can be no evidence to trot out.

        How do you expect the security services to find evidence of people doing nothing?

        I have no issue with most of your points, the more you look the more likely it is that you will find evidence, and the longer you look the more likely it is that there is no evidence to be found, but for there to be any evidence at all there must be a certain level of activity. 

        Without some activity the security services are unlikely to get involved. Anything operating below this threshold won’t be seen e.g. people discussing what they could do and deciding that if they’re going to give their lives to a cause it needs to be a major gesture like a plane crash and , since they can’t do this, they’ll give up.

        There are no absolutes here. I am not saying that lots of attacks were deterred. I’m simply saying that you cannot be sure that the number of attacks deterred is zero.

        Dave

        • LinkMan says:

          Without some activity the security services are unlikely to get involved. Anything operating below this threshold won’t be seen e.g. people discussing what they could do and deciding that if they’re going to give their lives to a cause it needs to be a major gesture like a plane crash and , since they can’t do this, they’ll give up.

          I find it hard to believe that there are people willing to give their lives to crash a plane but not willing to give their lives to drive a truck bomb into a concert hall or chemical factory.

          I’m simply saying that you cannot be sure that the number of attacks deterred is zero.

          That sounds a lot like Erin W’s tiger-deterring stone above.

          • davenicholls says:

            There clearly are people who are willing to give up their lives for a lower return, suicide attacks happen all the time, but my point about people needing to go above a threshold before they’l get noticed still stands.

            Erin W’s comment is funny, but specious. Tiger’s are fairly easy to recognise so you can reach a very high level of confidence that none are around. You can’t reach the same level of confidence about potential terrorists that have chosen not to act.

        • Funk Daddy says:

          Wrong in the same manner as before.

          Here, more concisely.

          You criticize Schneier for not giving the TSA credit for deterring terrorist acts, while at the same time demanding that there is no evidence that this is the case. 

          Effectively arguing that this lack of evidence is itself evidence.

          Be honest now, Are you George W. Bush?

          Kidding, but kidding aside please explain without the above flaw why Schneier should credit the TSA as deterrence with no evidence that TSA is deterrent.

          You can’t. A lack of evidence is a lack of evidence, and Schneier would be a fool to postulate that the TSA is deterrent with 0 Zero 0 evidence to support the claim.

          You say you respect Schneier, I suggest that one of the reasons may be that he would not do that thing.

          • davenicholls says:

            Wrong.

            Quote from my earlier comment:

            “Just to be clear. I’m not saying that the TSA does act as a deterrent, I’m saying that it’s wrong to assert that it doesn’t because you cannot know that. ”

            I am criticising Schneier and, I suppose, you for not understanding that a lack of evidence for deterrence does not prove that no deterrence has taken place, any more than it proves that it has.

            I am not suggesting that Schneier should state that the TSA is a deterrent, I am saying that he is wrong to state:

            “The argument that the TSA, by its very existence, deters terrorist plots is equally spurious.”

            When he cannot know for sure whether any plots have been deterred.

            Dave

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Dave,

            You’ve said the same thing half a dozen times. If you have anything new to add….

        • EvilTerran says:

          Ah, so the proposition “the TSA acts as a deterrent” is unfalsifiable, then?

          “God acts as a deterrent”. Prove me wrong.

          • davenicholls says:

            For all practical purposes, for any given value of “X” the statement

            “X acts as a deterrent” is unfalsifiable

            Dave

            Antinous,

            I can’t reply to your comment directly, so I hope you see this. Apologies if I was being repetitive, but I only had one point to put across. It appears to have been viewed by people as having several meanings, hence several replies.

            Cheers

            Dave

  10. No says:

    As a frequent air traveler, I’d rather that one random commercial airliner was blown up by dipshit fundie religious zealots each year than have to go through all the humiliating and dehumanizing bullshit the TSA cooks up. I’d STILL be a hundred times safer than I am on my drive to the airport.

  11. Kevin Pierce says:

    The half-baked crap we hear from Kip Hawley originates from the same echo chamber as the half-baked crap we hear from former DEA head Asa Hutchinson.

    What is it with former government honchos and their need to “stay on message”, even when the message is absurd?   Lucrative speaking engagements? Book deals? Lobbyist gigs? All the above?

  12. Tracy Norris says:

    How I perceive Hawley’s response: 9/11…Oh and, 9/11…Did I mention 9/11…Oh yeah, I forgot 9/11…Typical political fear mongering…

  13. E T says:

    TSA: I cannot say how many of the 6 billion or more people who have travelled would have been killed

    So he means almost the entire world population has traveled by air in the past 10 years?

  14. Daemonworks says:

    To crudely paraphrase an old joke:

    “Why are you raping me with a banana?”
    “It scares off the terrorists.”
    “There aren’t any terrorists here.”
    “See, it works!”

  15. James B says:

    I find the TSA a vile organization that denies citizens the fundamental freedom from unreasonable search.  I’ve yelled at them, within the bounds of maintaining cooperation, every time they singled me out.

    But complaining without proposing some alternative, is whining.  So in an effort not to whine, I say:  let the airlines run security for their terminals.  I would venture a guess that between the airlines and their insurance companies they would maximize the cost benefit of any procedures.  Factored into that procedure would have to be some semblance of customer service and common sense, which would get us out of the current ludicrous state we are in.  It would at least provide some choice in how our rights are violated.

    • EH says:

      But complaining without proposing some alternative, is whining.

      Ah, the old anti-intellectual canard. “Don’t say anything unless you can do better.” Sorry, but no. You know when you have a bad boss.

    • LinkMan says:

      The alternatives Schneier proposes are pretty good:  Go back to pre-9/11 private contracted security with metal detectors and carry-on x-rays.  Add hardened cockpit doors, reasonable screening of checked luggage and airport workers (I might add some degree of screening of cargo).  And take into account the fact that starting with UA93 on 9/11/2001 passengers fight back against bad guys on planes.

      You will have achieved essentially the same level of security we have now while saving billions of dollars a year in taxpayer money, millions of hours a year of passenger time and aggravation, and several constitutional rights.

    • AnthonyC says:

       There are many instances in life where the person who notices that a problem exists is not the same person with the expertise to solve it. If such people did not “whine,” as you put it, this world would be a much worse place to live.

  16. Their feldspars says:

    The last time I went through security, the TSA agent asked for my wallet, and he examined every bill and card in it. WTF TSA?

  17. panhead20 says:

    Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual and putting terror in every heart. 

    Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials

    I will not subject myself nor my family to needless radiation exposure nor TSA molestation. My family and I will not be flying until the TSA changes these procedures.

  18. PinkWithIndignation says:

    Extraordinary security measures require extraordinary evidence they are needed and are effective, and as such should produce extraordinary results, namely marked improvement. Saying, “It looks like it worked, so it must have worked, and because it looks like it worked we’re not going to revise it, even though we know it is probably inefficient” is a shoddy excuse for an argument that costs billions of dollars and annoys thousands of people each day.

  19. Marty O'B says:

    Kip says, 
     “I pay a cost in convenience and privacy to get reasonable certainty that my flight will be terror-free.”

    What was that Ben Franklin quote? Something like “He who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither”?

  20. Christopher Vaughan says:

    One problem is that Schneier is debating and Hawley is spouting PR talking points. If I were Hawley the argument should go like this:
    1. Security checks are demonstrably better than no security checks. Remember when hijackings were common in the 60s and 70s?
    2. Post-911 security measures are demonstrably better than pre-911 security measures. If we made no changes to security after 911, there would be many ways to bring aboard plastic explosives, liquid explosives, etc.
    3. Are all measures effective? Maybe or maybe not. But feel comfortable with the balance we have chosen. Our record stands on its merits.

    • Funk Daddy says:

      Schneier might reply;

      1. There were security checks before 9/11, thereby your argument has no basis in or application to the proposition we are to debate.

      2. There was no evidence of bomb usage or planning in the incident that was given as justification for the TSA, and in all subsequent incidents where explosives were present the TSA demonstrably failed to prevent their being brought aboard airliners. As your supportive argument fails, so does the statement you intended it to prove.

      3. Is asking oneself a question to answer in order to replace the proposition up for debate proper? No, it is not. In my previous (actual) statements during this debate I called the record of the TSA into question in sharp relief and demonstrated it as smoke and mirrors, without substance. You as of yet refuse to answer properly.

      I hope you didn’t intend/hope to coach Hawley toward a better showing, if we assume Hawley could not win a debate in any case.

      • Shinkuhadoken says:

        I hope you didn’t intend/hope to coach Hawley toward a better showing, if we assume Hawley could not win a debate in any case.

        Even if the details weren’t a winning hand, I’d hope you would agree that it’s better hear a serious discussion on the merits of airport security than just to get a regurgitation off the TSA pamphlet.

        I believe the original premise of the TSA was to put airport security under government control so that they coordinate it with other federal law enforcement agencies (the whole raison d’être for the DHS) in a way that private screeners could not.

        Instead, we have bottom-of-the-barrel rent-a-cops with no enforcement capabilities and who can’t collectively bargain thus ensuring the position is not attractive to someone with talent. The job made to demean law-abiding citizens who haven’t done anything wrong in the random search for someone who might, and requires you to examine people in an environment and manner that a doctor would find questionable (for that matter, why don’t they even have a doctor, or at least a nurse on staff if medical devices are an issue?)

        There’s just so much about this that seems like a stopgap measure that never got out of holding the whole thing together with duct tape. Really expensive duct tape.

  21. JBForum says:

    Any smart terrorist would just bomb the security line in the airport.

  22. timmaguire says:

    How about pointing out that 911 was a 1-off that will never be repeated even if airport security were completely eliminated? Hijackings depend for their success on passenger cooperation–and such cooperation was permanently withdrawn the moment the planes hit the towers (see, for example, flight 93, the shoe bomber, and the underwear bomber).

    Hawley’s response is instructive and nearly an admission that this is all merely security theater. “I pay a cost in convenience and privacy to get reasonable certainty that my flight will be terror-free.” Bingo! It’s not about safety, it’s about the illusion of safety.

    “we have stacked security measures from different risk models on top of each other rather than adding and subtracting security actions as we refine the risk strategy.” They are being as obtrusive as possible so that you never forget that they are in charge and they will do what they want.

    • Shinkuhadoken says:

      “we have stacked security measures from different risk models on top of each other rather than adding and subtracting security actions as we refine the risk strategy.” They are being as obtrusive as possible so that you never forget that they are in charge and they will do what they want.

      I do think it’s a bit out-of-control at the moment, but some security is certainly needed. Airplanes are expensive, high-tech equipment, flying in “friendly skies” and filled with relatively affluent people who generally feel safe and secure but who have nowhere to run if something goes wrong. It’s obviously a terrorist favorite.

      But before 9/11, Canada had the worst terrorist attack involving a plane, Air India 182, where 329 people died after a suitcase bomb exploded mid-flight in 1985. But Canada didn’t resort to stripping everyone of their constitutional rights (not to mention their clothes) just to fly in and out of the country as a result. It’s possible to strike a balance between security and being respectful of human rights and dignity.

  23. adhocmedia says:

    Can we talk about Monday’s congressional hearing now?

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