In the latest (ongoing) Economist debate (run Oxford-style), security expert Bruce Schneier and architect of the TSA Kip Hawley are facing off to respectively defend and attack the motion "This house believes that changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good." Overview. Opening statements. Rebuttals. (Surprisingly cogent) comments from the floor.
"Carried to its logical end, TSA policy would have to require passengers to travel naked or handcuffed."
"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) ... have made air travel the most difficult means of mass transit in the United States, at the same time failing to make air travel any more secure." Steve Moore has been an FBI Special Agent, head of the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force's Al Qaeda and extra-territorial squads, a SWAT agent trained to interdict airplane hijackings, and a pilot. His father literally wrote the book on airline security. And he has come to the conclusion that "TSA is one of the worst-run, ineffective and most unnecessarily intrusive agencies in the United States government." [more inside]
"Since 9/11, the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security." To walk through an airport with Bruce Schneier is to see how much change a trillion dollars can wreak. So much inconvenience for so little benefit at such a staggering cost. And directed against a threat that, by any objective standard, is quite modest.
This list of commercial airliner bombings appears in the Ask a Rocket Scientist section of Aerospaceweb.org. It presents a comprehensive and descriptive catalog of 86 bombings and attempted bombings since 1933, 54 of which resulted in fatalities, and offers some information that might be relevant to the question of airline security.
"Better people than I have sacrificed more than their careers, their livelihood, for the cause of freedom. Americans need to wake up and stand up." Michael Roberts, a pilot for ExpressJet, refused to enter the millimeter wave machine. TSA called the police and sent him home. [more inside]
Is aviation security mostly for show? An essay by Bruce Schneier.
The TSA has accidentally posted their SOP online. Not having learned proper redaction techniques after dozens of other companies and government agencies made the same mistake, the TSA posted their complete "Screening Management Standard Operating Procedures" manual online in PDF format. [more inside]
Clear, the "security service" that allowed travellers to bypass TSA security lines, offered a Father's Day discount if you purchased a one-year membership by June 21. On June 23, Clear ceased operations. Sorry, no refunds.
Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota "Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft ... and they did nothing wrong," says one federal Air Marshal. Why? Because a memo from management requires marshals to file one Surveillance Detection Report (SDR) per month, and failure to do so will negatively impact upon their annual raises, bonuses, awards and special assignments. Marshals deny fabricating stories wholesale, but claim to have resorted to creatively stretching the truth to turn benign acts into potential threats and the harm this may cause to people who have done nothing wrong seems irrelevant to the marshals and the TSA officials who created the rules.
What should I pack? According to the official list Toy Transformer Robots are OK (presumably real ones are not), but I'll have to put my throwing stars in my checked luggage.