Wednesday, January 30, 2008

TSA Strikes Out. Again.

Good Godamighty, this is getting really discouraging, considering how much we're paying for TSA to "protect" us.

TSA conducted yet another of its tests of its airport screeners. You know, the folks who are supposed to prevent bombs and guns from getting on board American airliners.

And, once again, TSA screeners have failed the test.

CNN asked if it could send a camera crew to tape one of the tests, and TSA agreed. Unfortunately, the CNN crew taped a test at Tampa International Airport.

The CNN report detailed how a covert officer with a metal knee beat security by claiming a slender mock explosive strapped around his waist was a back brace. Nice to know the screeners will believe us when we say a bomb is a back brace. Now if we could just get them to believe a bottle of Pert really is shampoo.

Of course, this isn't the first time TSA screeners have dropped the ball on finding mock explosives. See my previous post on TSA for more details.

The CNN report quotes a TSA spokesdrone as pointing out that:

Six years ago, the administration focused intently on handguns. As a result, screeners became more adept at ferreting them out before they made it on board....

This explains how a guy was able to get on a plane last week with a gun.

Guns? Okay.

Bombs? No problem.

A bottle of Poland Springs? Big problem. BIG problem.

Does it seem like I'm ragging on TSA too much? If it does, that is because TSA -- and it's parent super-agency, the Department of Homeland Security -- are violating one of the main tenets of the security profession. They are too busy trying to protect us from the last attack, and not worrying their beautiful minds about the next one.

TSA and DHS have their heads in the sand. As a New York Times writer pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the primary reason the 9-11 hijackings succeeded was not that the terrorists were able to smuggle box cutters aboard the aircraft; the reason they succeeded was that they broke the existing paradigm of hijackings, that the craft would be diverted to another destination. By being willing to sacrifice themselves (and the passengers, crews, and planes), the terrorists brought a new paradigm into play. And it is a paradigm the TSA cannot comprehend.

It is impossible to prevent weapons on planes, as TSA has demonstrated time after time. No matter how much they check our shoes, pour out our shampoo, or grope our pregnant wives' breasts, they can never keep all potentially dangerous weapons off the planes. It just cannot be done.

In years past, a takeover meant hostage negotiations and standoffs; crews were trained in the concept of “passive resistance.” All of that changed forever the instant American Airlines Flight 11 collided with the north tower. What weapons the 19 men possessed mattered little; the success of their plan relied fundamentally on the element of surprise. And in this respect, their scheme was all but guaranteed not to fail.

For several reasons — particularly the awareness of passengers and crew — just the opposite is true today. Any hijacker would face a planeload of angry and frightened people ready to fight back. Say what you want of terrorists, they cannot afford to waste time and resources on schemes with a high probability of failure. And thus the September 11th template is all but useless to potential hijackers.

I said it then, and I'll say it now: this is the template to which DHS and TSA fanatically adhere.

1 comment:

  1. But the goal of the TSA is not to foil hijackings. The goal of the TSA is to fulfill a political need -- the need to make airline passengers feel that they're "safe". Just try complaining about the airline security while standing in one of those lines. You'll have passengers all around you saying, "what, you want terrorists to be able to carry bombs on planes?!". The sheeple don't know that the TSA can't catch bombs. All they know is that this security silliness makes them feel safe. It's like kabuki theater, a formalized exercise that is reassuring because of its ritual, not because of its substance. After all, if they're catching too-big bottles of Pert shampoo, surely this means they're catching bombs too, right?!

    Sheeple are so predictable...

    - Badtux the Observant Penguin