January 25, 2010
Security Theater

Teresa at Making Light says:

I think about this every time I see a news story about the DHS/NTSA developing elaborate systems that test travelers for trace amounts of chemicals used in explosives.

How do you beat that? By seeding the travel environment with the target chemicals. For instance, you could sprinkle them into the upholstery and/or carpeting of buses, trains, and airport taxis. Travelers who came into contact with them would pick up trace amounts, which would set off the airport chemical detectors. A system that’s swamped with false positives is as blind as one that can’t detect what it’s looking for, and it’s a hell of a lot more nervous.

The beauty part about doing this is that it’s so easy. You don’t have to build a working bomb, learn to fly a plane, target a specific flight, buy a plane ticket, or pass through airport security. All you have to do is sit back and keep pressing the DHS/NTSA’s panic buttons.

Chemicals aren’t terrorism. Terrorism isn’t air travel. Terror is an effect. I don’t know anyone who was made more fearful by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab setting fire to his crotch. I know a lot of people who are afraid to travel because they’ve heard reports of abusive behavior by security personnel at borders and airports.

Next: figuring out how to put miniature cap pistols into coin-operated toy vending machines at highway rest areas near border checkpoints.


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Posted by Jerome Doolittle at January 25, 2010 10:43 PM
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