Excellent OpEd from an airline pilot on the idiocy of airport security.

Go read this New York Times OpEd by Patrick Smith. It’s an excellent rant about the idiocy that passes for security that is the TSA. A snippet:

No matter that a deadly sharp can be fashioned from virtually anything found on a plane, be it a broken wine bottle or a snapped-off length of plastic, we are content wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and untold hours of labor in a delusional attempt to thwart an attack that has already happened, asked to queue for absurd lengths of time, subject to embarrassing pat-downs and loss of our belongings.

The folly is much the same with respect to the liquids and gels restrictions, introduced two summers ago following the breakup of a London-based cabal that was planning to blow up jetliners using liquid explosives. Allegations surrounding the conspiracy were revealed to substantially embellished. In an August, 2006 article in the New York Times, British officials admitted that public statements made following the arrests were overcooked, inaccurate and “unfortunate.” The plot’s leaders were still in the process of recruiting and radicalizing would-be bombers. They lacked passports, airline tickets and, most critical of all, they had been unsuccessful in actually producing liquid explosives. Investigators later described the widely parroted report that up to ten U.S airliners had been targeted as “speculative” and “exaggerated.”

The passenger screenings are nothing more than security theater that offer no real improvements in our safety and are a waste of time and money that make travel by air undesirable at best. Yet we put up with it because too many Americans are credulous and scared and willing to accept whatever bullshit they’re fed by the Government if they think it’ll keep them safe. Given the stunning track record of lying to the citizenry that the current administration has racked up you’d think more people would be second guessing the story they’re being told, but very few do. It doesn’t help that the majority of Americans are scientifically illiterate and devoid of any real critical thinking skills which would help them to realize that the Ban On Liquids is just stupid. This is a point that’s not lost on Mr. Smith:

As for Americans themselves, I suppose that it’s less than realistic to expect street protests or airport sit-ins from citizen fliers, and maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from a press and media that have had no trouble letting countless other injustices slip to the wayside. And rather than rethink our policies, the best we’ve come up with is a way to skirt them — for a fee, naturally — via schemes like Registered Traveler. Americans can now pay to have their personal information put on file just to avoid the hassle of airport security. As cynical as George Orwell ever was, I doubt he imagined the idea of citizens offering up money for their own subjugation.

How we got to this point is an interesting study in reactionary politics, fear-mongering and a disconcerting willingness of the American public to accept almost anything in the name of “security.” Conned and frightened, our nation demands not actual security, but security spectacle. And although a reasonable percentage of passengers, along with most security experts, would concur such theater serves no useful purpose, there has been surprisingly little outrage. In that regard, maybe we’ve gotten exactly the system we deserve.

It was Benjamin Franklin who once said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Those words remain as true today as they were in his time.

Link found at Boing Boing.

9 thoughts on “Excellent OpEd from an airline pilot on the idiocy of airport security.

  1. Well Les how about you put your post where your… ?mouth? is and organize a rally or something.

    Nah, just kidding I do enjoy complaining more so than you.

  2. I think the main problem is that if you’re determined to smuggle explosives onto a plane, you could come up with some rather ingenious methods for doing so, and as the article mentioned you can find something to stab someone with on the plane anyway.

    I wonder what would be worse, being so paranoid that you think a guy might have a bomb stuck up his ass, or knowing that everyone else on the flight has brought a knife because they think someone might have smuggled a bomb up their ass

  3. I have to wonder (for Americans) how much is “this will keep us safe from terrorists” and how much is “if I protest I will get on a list and I will never be allowed to fly again, or at least I will get pulled aside every time I fly and have to be wanded, patted down and swabbed”.

  4. NeonCat: don’t worry you don’t have to do anything “wrong” or even complain, just be like my brother-in-law and be unlucky enough to have the same name as someone on the no fly list.  He has two show up an additional hour (beyond the additional hour everyone else does) so he can go through all the BS with the ticket claims people before he can fly.

    So they’re saying that the entire liquids ban came into place from a half cooked story about some wanna be terrorists that hadn’t actually created a liquid explosive that’s less obvious than gas.

    So if we are that amazingly knee jerk reactionary is the recent ban on lithium Ion batteries all because of the reports all over the internet last summer about the Chinese Mine worker that was “killed” by his exploding cell phone.


    Of course 4 months later a few small stories are released explaining that one of his coworkers hit him with a mining vehicle and then tried to cover it up.


    It’s not that lithium ion batteries can’t explode, they can… it’s just that the damage isn’t enough to blow up a plane or drive your ribs through your heart and break your back it’s more likely to make a mess of your luggage.

  5. I always thought the extra security was bullshit. Created out of fear. Security is important for flights, but is taking off shoes really necessary? Is the racial profiling necessary?

  6. There’s no racial profiling policy in the TSA, they’ve got too many disgruntled employees who’d love to give the press that memo.

    One could pack a good deal of explosive in a boot heel, but you could easily strap some deta sheet to your leg as well.

  7. They just implimented an eye scanning system and fingerprint system in Japan for foriegners and I really hate it. Not only do tourists have to do it, but people with permanent resident status and or spousal visas, etc… The only people who don’t have to are diplomats and Taiwanese and Korean born and living in Japan (why these people are not considered Japanese in the first place also bothers me.)

    It was said it was to protect from terror but its all based on racism. Not to mention all the terrorist activities carried out thus far in Japan have been domestic, home grown terrorists who were all Japanese! Xenophobia is going to tear this country apart. D: Rediculous.

  8. As I’ve said before, I don’t find the security checks on the routes I fly (Europe to New Zealand via Asia) too onerous. Staff are courteous, delays are brief (haven’t been stopped at a checkpoint for more than 5 minutes, ever – and that was on 20+ checks over the last three years).

    That said, I agree that much of it is bullshit. Smuggling sharp objects is still easy, for example, they just have to be non-shar when you bring them on board.

    Liquid bans – who wants to bet against me when I say they will still be there in 10 years, when they will probably have scanners or detectors capable of telling explosives from coca cola? Because the airports profit from selling you a drink after you have passed the security line.

    And as for classic bombs – I have a friend who works in an airliner maintenance crew. He gets into all the crawlspaces while doing his work, and knows all the vulnerable parts. He could easily smuggle something into a plane. He isn’t checked through security at all when he comes to work, as far as I know, and I don’t think he has any background checks done on him either.

    Best protection still is a good intelligence service discovering a plot long before it happens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.