Counter-Terrorism: Politically Incorrect Airport Security


December 24, 2005: One of the most terrifying aftereffects of the war on terror has been the many new security procedures imposed on air travelers. Most of them have no impact on airline security. Not being able to carry a pocket knife or knitting needles has not stopped more hijacking attempts. What happened on Flight 93 (the one that crashed, when passengers realized what was happening and attacked the hijackers), has, as have stronger cockpit doors. Other measures, that address real vulnerabilities, have not been implemented. This is largely because real security improvements are not as visible, and thus are less valuable, in a PR sense, to politicians who pass these laws. For example, a glaring weakness in airports is background checks and security measures applied to airport personnel. It’s widely known that drug gangs regularly exploit this to get airport workers to help them smuggle drugs on airplanes. Some security experts (the ones who are ignored a lot), keep pointing out that bombs could just as easily be placed on aircraft using the same methods. Another weakness is baggage control. This includes simple things like making sure passengers always fly when their baggage does, and explosive screening for all luggage (checked as well as carry-on.) The biggest flaw is the reluctance to adopt the profiling techniques pioneered by Israel (and now being adopted by Russia). As long as politics and PR play such a large role in counter-terrorism, expect measures that play better than they perform will be favored.


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