Quote of the day–Kip Hawley

Screening ideas are indeed thought up by the Office for Annoying Air Travelers and vetted through the Directorate for Confusion and Complexity, and then we review them to insure that there are sufficient unintended irritating consequences so that the blogosphere is constantly fueled.

Kip Hawley
Head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
April/May of 2007 via an email interview with Bruce Schneier
[Yes, he said that. It was sarcasm. Not that I don’t think there was a certain amount of truth in it as well. Reading the rest of the interview (part of one of five is all that is out) was interesting. As you might expect Schneier is asking the right questions but, at least so far, Hawley is avoiding some of the questions and Schneier isn’t following up as well as I think he should. For example, Hawley gives a feels good answer to claims of 90% failure on weapons detection. But I don’t think there have been any changes that can defeat certain, extremely simple, scenarios.

You are requested to lay your carry-on luggage “flat” on the belt for a reason. That reason is the X-Ray image is produced in the vertical direction. Laying the luggage flat gives the screener the least clutter in the image. It also means that you can present the screener with the most favorable profile of your weapon. Imagine what the profile of a knife looks like on edge and what acceptable carry-on items might look similar or camouflage the knife on edge. It is my contention that short of hand searching or complete emptying of luggage at the check points it will be trivial to get knives past security in your carry-on luggage. Firearms are only slightly more difficult. There may be some things they can do to detect ammunition via nuclear methods but I suspect even that can be defeated if you know what you are doing. It is my contention we would all be much better off if we explored different methods of security.–Joe]