Thursday, March 7, 2013

TSA: 3.5oz of Toothpaste = terrorist, 2.36 inch Knives = Patriot

Are you kidding me? The TSA is now going to be allowing some small pocket knives on airplanes. Meanwhile I still can't take a decent tube of toothpaste through(and lord help you if you caught with a sealed bottle of water or pop!).  Coming from someone who has lost a 20oz bottle of pop, a full tube of toothpaste, was "detained" for a 3 inch philips-head screwdriver, and who won a random "full baggage search" in front of everyone, I feel much safer now.  I might be stuck with overpriced soda from airport shops, off brand toothpaste, and limited hardware, but at least the guy sitting next to me on the airplane can stab me in the eye (with his 2 inch blade) when I tell him about all of America's "freedoms".

This also doesn't mean any other security will be loosened. If you want to ride on a plane in this country, You'll still have to decide between either someone taking naked pictures of you, or a full body pat down. (If you're really lucky, you'll be among the few who have to endure both!)  If you're among the 99% of americans who like to both ride an airplane and thinks their "right to privacy" extends to their body, there is some good, slightly less publicized news.  There is a small pilot(pun intended) program for those to have "expedited" screenings by going through a voluntary "pre-screening".  Of course, the program is currently only for frequent flyers and other "preferred" airline customers.  You'll be contacted shortly if you are eligible.  (Apparently when it comes to getting government permission to retain ones dignity at the airport, Jet-setting millionaires, corporate execs, and traveling sales people get to be in the front of the line)

One last piece of good news, the nude photo scanners might be going away.  Well, not entirely.  They're staying, but being changed(those that can) to display a cartoon like drawing of the person's body - golly I feel better already.  Now all I have to do is endure the (likely) cancer causing radiation.

Despite being a liberty-minded person, I think could tolerate all of these things, or at the very least forgive those who impose it upon us, if I thought that it actually kept me and my family safer at the airport and on airplanes.  But, I really don't believe that. I think others have described it best when they call all of these procedures security theater.  They aren't designed to make us safer so much as make us FEEL safer.

The system is easy to game.  One can't have 12oz of shampoo because the shampoo might have been replaced with explosive liquid.  Assuming for a moment that one needs 12oz of this liquid, all you've changed is that to pull of an operation you need 4 guys with a 3oz bottle instead of 1 guy with a 12oz bottle.  We can have small knives as long as the handle isn't grooved nor locked in place?  No problem, I'll just put my blade in one handle when I go through security, but put it in a different handle once I'm on the plane and want to use it.  Those are just ways to get dangerous items on board without breaking TSA rules.  There is a good chance that whatever you need will make it through TSA screening thanks to all of it's mistakes.

All of these scanners and screenings seem like they are putting faith in technology instead of people.  There might be an incentive for that considering that the last Homeland Security secretary had ties to the company that sell the naked scanners.  Instead, TSA they may want to spend time concentrating on finding terrorists.  I understand there is a pilot program to try out the "Israeli" method which is to (horror upon horrer) TALK to people.  And if they act suspicious, then they go through additional security screening.  Of course, this is being floated as additional security on top of the useless measures used now, and not a replacement of it(facepalm!).

Now I understand that in Israel if you don't pass the first screening, things get hardcore fast.  We don't necessarily have to adopt the ENTIRE system, but talking to a guy and telling him your name, where you're going, and who you're traveling with seems less intrusive then losing my entire toiletres bag and getting a full body pat down.  We're pretty much already asked those questions by 2 or 3 different TSA agents at some point or another.
Even if the "talk to people" method wasn't implemented.  I'd still advocate for getting rid of most of these other measures.  No sense in making everyone "feel" safer when they're not.  I don't believe in a false sense of security.
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