Security Theater

After nearly a week off, I wanted to come back with something really good, but then I realized I better just come back period.  To that end, I'm going to borrow Jeffrey Goldberg's commentary on the TSA response to the latest crazy to try and blow up a plane:

 Sometimes the stupidity is too much to bear. From the new guidelines for international air travel:

U.S.-bound passengers aboard international flights must undergo a
"thorough pat-down" at boarding gates, focused on the upper legs and
torso.

Thanks for letting us know, TSA, that the search should be focused on the upper legs and torso. As I've said on numerous occasions,
pat-downs that ignore the crotch and the ass are useless. We recently
saw in Saudi Arabia the detonation of a rectal bomb, so it really
doesn't take much creativity to imagine that terrorists will be taping
explosives to their scrotums. Of course, TSA is not going to be
feeling-up people's scrotums anytime soon, so the question remains: Why
does our government continue to make believe that it can stop
terrorists from boarding civilian planes when anyone with half-a-brain
and a spare two minutes can think up a dozen ways to bypass the
symbolic security measures at our airports?

Next item:
"Passengers must remain seated for the final hour before landing.
During
that time, they may not have access to their carry-on baggage or hold
personal items on their laps." But what about their underwear? Can they
have access to their underwear, which is where our latest would-be
Muslim martyr apparently hid his bomb? And why can't we have access to
our laptops, if they've already been screened?

It is pathetic and depressing that the agency charged with keeping us safe seems much more interested in doing things to pretend they are keeping us safe than actually doing us things that will keep us safe.  Virtually all the rules, from the new pat-downs, to shoes, to liquids can be easily subverted by a terrorist with an IQ over 100.  Fortunately, it seems that there just aren't that many people who want to get on a plane and blow it up.  If you haven't read Goldberg's classic article on our security theater, you should.   Matt Yglesias also has a nice post about the problem of too much information when it comes to dealing with potential terrorists. 

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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