Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer?

… As you stand in endless lines this holiday season, here’s a comforting thought: all those security measures accomplish nothing, at enormous cost. …Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security.

The only effective policy out of all this post 9/11 waste was the inexpensive and obvious hardening of airplane cockpit doors. Largely based upon discussions with our favorite security guru Bruce Schneier, this Charles Mann article demonstrates the reality of security theater:

To a large number of security analysts, this expenditure makes no sense. The vast cost is not worth the infinitesimal benefit. Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as “security theater”: actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.

US voters – you can stop this nonsense.

2 thoughts on “Does Airport Security Really Make Us Safer?

  1. Frank Eggers

    Whether airport security makes us safer depends on how we respond to it. If it causes us to stay at home, we are safer. It it causes us to drive instead, we are not safer. For me, it’s been a mix of the two. I haven’t flown since 2004 the reasons being that I do not want to put up with the inconvenience, the rude inspectors, and I do not want people opening my luggage unless I can watch what they are doing.

    Every time I think about flying, I think about the inconvenience and irritation, then decide not to fly.

  2. victoria shumate

    I was tired of being subjected to a full body “pat down” (why do they call it a pat down when it is really a rub down?) at the airport.

    I have a hip replacement and have a card from my doctor stating this fact. Each time I fly out of Greenville/Spartanburg airport(GSP), I set off the walk through metal detector. Well, back in August, I removed all my jewelry, no metal was present on my body except the metal hip implant. As usual, I set off the metal detector. I offered to present my card from my doctor and they said they don‘t need it. I was subjected to a full body “pat down”. I asked why there was no hand held metal detector that could pinpoint the source of the alarm. The TSA agent said they do not use the hand held wand.

    Then a couple weeks ago, I thought I would call the GSP airport and find out if there might be some other checkpoints that does use the hand held wand. When I spoke to a TSA agent, they stated “We choose not to use this equipment”. With this information I decided I’ve had enough.

    I flew again 12/28 and thought I would speed the process along and wore a 2 piece bathing suit through security. I wore a summer dress through the line and as soon as I got up to the walk through metal detector, I took the dress off. Again no other metal on my body, and I set off the metal detector. I was planning on putting the dress back on after my screening.

    Now the fun began. They took me aside and wanted me to go to a private screening room and I asked if the private room has video surveillance, they said no. I stated I wanted a video taping of my screening. Next a Greenville Policeman came over and asked why I am wearing underwear? Well, obviously he does not know the difference between swim wear and underwear. He also asked where I was from. I told him North Carolina and he said “you are in South Carolina and we don’t do this here” I told him that women, wearing bikinis, in LAX and Salt Lake City airport were let through security without pat downs and he said “well this is not LA or Salt Lake City”. He said he could arrest me for indecent exposure. What? Swim wear is indecent? I can wear the same thing to a pool or beach but can not wear any other place? Some of the clothes people wear out on the streets are more indecent than the swim suit I wore. He also stated “I am concerned you are not right in the head” so my wearing swim wear to prevent the groping is evidence of “not right in the head”?

    I asked the screener why she can’t just “pat down” the areas that are covered by the swim suit and she stated that “We don’t know if you have some metal or explosives in a body cavity or under the skin” this is laughable. So the groping through clothing can detect this situation?

    After about an hour, they said they could not screen me unless I had clothes on. They made me put my dress back on and groped me though the dress, even though the screener saw that I did not have anything but a 2 piece swim suit on. Crazy.

    GSP does not have the body scanner as in other airports. I do not mind going through the body scanner since it avoids a “groping”. Also, at other airports, when the body scanner is down or they do not have one, I have been screened using a hand held wand that passes over areas of the body and if it goes off, they pat down only that area.

    I feel that I am discriminated against because I have a joint replacement. Why is it I am forced to be subject to basically “feel up” every time I fly out of GSP? As I stated before, I would prefer a full body scan, but this airport does not have one. Why? I should have the right to not get groped because I want to fly. If I was outside the airport this kind of treatment would be considered assault and I would be treated as a victim, instead in this case the police threatening to arrest me.

    Sure, I could always fly out of an airport that has this equipment, but when trying to find the cheapest and most convenient flights, this airport came up as the choice many times.

    I am disgusted with the policeman’s attitude where it seems he made the rules what I should and should not wear through airport security. If there is acceptable wear through security, why is it not documented? I searched the TSA.gov web site for any rules regarding what can be worn and found nothing.

    I think some guidelines should be developed that if a person chooses to go through security with swimwear, where it is obvious that there are not hidden weapons or outward metal then they should be given a different “pat down” than one with baggy clothing, excess clothing, etc. Ideally, use the hand held detectors.

    Why is it an airport can “choose” what equipment to use to screen the passengers. I feel like I am being treated as a criminal each time I need to fly out of GSP, forced to get a pat down because they “choose” not to use this equipment.

    As a tax payer, I feel that I am paying for this security at the airport, and therefore, should be able to avoid the groping hands of a stranger. I “chose” to wear my swim suit through security because I thought it would avoid this groping. They made up the rules that I can’t be screened unless I have my clothes on.

    I am aware that there are necessary measures to insure the safety of travel, but if there is technology to avoid my personal space from being violated, then this technology should be used. The TSA agent said “Ma’am, you would make this a lot easier if you just let us do the “pat down”. Well, they would make it a lot easier if they got the right equipment to eliminate this embarrassing treatment.

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