Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”     James Madison

October 21, 2008

Security Theater

by Brad Warbiany

This one has been making the libertarian rounds for a day or two now, and with good reason. A story about Jeffrey Goldberg, a writer who has taken security expert Bruce Schneier’s proclamations about ineffectiveness of security measures at airports and gone and proven them.

Unfortunately, I don’t have much time to devote to this, as I’m currently sitting in an airport bar on a layover. But given my current location and my position as the contributor to The Liberty Papers with the heaviest travel schedule* (I’ll be flying 6 of the next 9 days), I thought it apropos that I pass this along.

As the below excerpt so perfectly points out, the constant hassle I have to get through security has not led to me feeling much safer:

On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”

On 9/12/2001, I said that there will never be another 9/11 in this country, and Flight 93 proved why. Further in the article Schneier is quoted as saying the two biggest reasons to believe security is improved is the reinforced cockpit doors and the fact that a plane full of people no longer believes they should not resist a hijacker. All the rest, from the TSA “you can’t professionalize unless you federalize” restrictions on liquids to the requirement that 80-year-old grandmothers remove their shoes, are just theater.

As they say, read the whole thing. You won’t feel safer afterwards, but I’d argue that if you feel safe now, you need a reality check.

Hat Tip: Billy Beck

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