Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Security Is Good Security

I was reading in my morning paper today about a woman who took 10 hours to get through airport security on a flight from Toronto to LA. I'm sure this is not the norm, but it is a great example of how ridiculous airport security is. The huge delays after attempted terrorist attacks do a great job of showing how good the TSA is at attempting to shut the barn door after the horses have already fled.

Let me propose a simple solution that would make airport security much more convenient for everyone. That solution is to get rid of it completely. That may sound crazy, but it would be unlikely to increase the number of successful attacks and it would make life so much simpler for everyone that they might be willing to accept the possible increased risk. Let me also state, for the record, that if my "no security" plan takes off I would be more than happy to be the first one to die in any possible terrorist attack. Too bad terrorists don't generally seek out volunteers.

Think about the last three or four terrorist attacks on airlines in the US. We have the horribly effective attack on 9/11 in which the passengers did not realize the intent of the terrorists to crash the plane. Then we have the shoe bomber who was stopped from setting off his bomb by flight attendants and other passengers. Most recently we have this guy in Detroit who tried to use explosives that he hid in his underwear and a syringe. It's a little unclear what happened there, but it sounds like either passengers or flight attendants saw something start to smoke and stopped the man from going any further with his explosive. To some extent this just speaks to the incompetence of the last couple of terrorist attempts, but it also shows that regular people are willing to step up and stop somebody who might be a terrorist if they appear to be doing something suspicious. Nobody is going to be able to hijack a plane using box cutters for at least the next couple of decades.

My other point is that even with high security terrorists will always be able to find new ways to try something. Until we have a device that easily detects all known explosive materials and weapons, we are going to keep getting attempted attacks. Probably even with such a device there would be ways found to try and take over or blow up a plane. Why terrorists seem intent on blowing up planes, I have no idea. They would do about the same amount of damage by blowing up a bus and it would be a lot easier to accomplish.

So basically, we are giving up many hours of the lives of millions of airline passengers every year in order to stop what would essentially be a bad bus crash. This is crazy. We really need to stop this madness.

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