Security Theater gets attention

Via email from Kris comes this link and an image from Gizmodo which I continued following to find the artist here. This is the image:

http://assets.arlosites.com/stills/17587011/2a87999b00.jpg

Also from Kris is this collection of TSA bumper stickers:

On the more serious side is Bruce Schneier (via Chet) with my favorite section being:

There’s talk about the health risks of the machines, but I can’t believe you won’t get more radiation on the flight. Here’s some data:

A typical dental X-ray exposes the patient to about 2 millirems of radiation. According to one widely cited estimate, exposing each of 10,000 people to one rem (that is, 1,000 millirems) of radiation will likely lead to 8 excess cancer deaths. Using our assumption of linearity, that means that exposure to the 2 millirems of a typical dental X-ray would lead an individual to have an increased risk of dying from cancer of 16 hundred-thousandths of one percent. Given that very small risk, it is easy to see why most rational people would choose to undergo dental X-rays every few years to protect their teeth.

More importantly for our purposes, assuming that the radiation in a backscatter X-ray is about a hundredth the dose of a dental X-ray, we find that a backscatter X-ray increases the odds of dying from cancer by about 16 ten millionths of one percent. That suggests that for every billion passengers screened with backscatter radiation, about 16 will die from cancer as a result.

Given that there will be 600 million airplane passengers per year, that makes the machines deadlier than the terrorists.

Nate Silver on the hidden cost of these new airport security measures.

According to the Cornell study, roughly 130 inconvenienced travelers died every three months as a result of additional traffic fatalities brought on by substituting ground transit for air transit. That’s the equivalent of four fully-loaded Boeing 737s crashing each year.

Hidden costs… That is something that is difficult to get across to many people. Just like gun control. Ban all the guns and the total crimes committed with firearms will probably go down but the crime rate may actually increase because having unarmed or poorly armed victims enables crime. It appears that is just too difficult of a concept for some people.

I’m not sure how to handle this problem. If they didn’t have (or threaten to have) the force of government behind them it would be fairly easy to ignore them and let Darwin take care of them. But that isn’t the way it works. They can use government to force us all to back over the cliff trying to avoid a nut case in front of us who pops up and says “Boogie! Boogie!” once every few years. We should just allowed to carry our guns and put a bullet in his head when he shows himself.

It seems people are beginning to realize the price they are paying for the security theater but will they be willing to embrace freedom and self-reliance?

Whatever the outcome it makes things worse for gun control. We should be able to draw the parallel between security on an airplane and security in schools, office buildings, and college campuses. If this is what it takes to make things safe on an airplane why should it take any less to make a dorm room “safe’?

How many people do you think will be tolerate this sort of “security” every time they enter a building or any other “gun free zone”? I don’t know the answer but we should start asking the question.

Update: I forgot about Rob’s email that I had saved away:

And from Mike:

3 thoughts on “Security Theater gets attention

  1. What frightens me is that there is nothing to stop a terrorist from carrying a large carry on filled with explosives and shrapnel into the line at a major airport waiting to get through the TSA Checkpoint and setting it off where (most likely) he could take out two or three plane loads of people and shutting down that airport for God alone knows how long.

    Keith W

  2. I agree with Keith.

    On the health issue, my brother in law is a widower. He was a flight attendant, so was his wife. She died at 29 from brain cancer. She never smoked, ate right and was is great shape.

    If the topic of to much radiation even comes up he just goes off with info. He will always believe that his wife died from hidden data.

    Just thought I would throw that in there.

    Happy Thanksgiving Joe

    Miles

  3. What frightens me is that there is nothing to stop a terrorist from carrying a large carry on filled with explosives and shrapnel into the line at a major airport waiting to get through the TSA Checkpoint and setting it off where (most likely) he could take out two or three plane loads of people and shutting down that airport for God alone knows how long.

    What frightens me is that there is nothing to stop a terrorist from carrying a large suitcase filled with explosives into the baggage check-in. Enough of the right stuff and they could take out a good chunk of the terminal – killing (at least) hundreds of people and causing enough structural damage to require at least partial rebuilding.

    I haven’t flown or taken someone to an airport since before 9/11. Can you still drive up to the “loading/unloading area” at the front doors? How many people would a car with a trunk full of AMFO at the front doors kill?

    Realistically, any security point is vulnerable to that kind of attack. It’s the first place security starts looking for danger, and it’s a choke point because of that – it’s literally impossible to make it secure, and it’s a wonder the terrorists haven’t tried it yet.

    We should be able to draw the parallel between security on an airplane and security in schools, office buildings, and college campuses. If this is what it takes to make things safe on an airplane why should it take any less to make a dorm room “safe’?

    I’d like to see them try that someplace like Virginia Tech or UVA. You’d have to build a wall with guard towers and sensors around the entire VT campus to make it work – it’s too open and spread out otherwise. Places like UVA and many other universities are even worse – VT is a mostly continuous campus, while others have buildings scattered across the cities and intermingled with private property. UVA, of course, also has a large hospital with offices intermingled with classroom space – meaning a large portion of the campus has to be open to the general public. Realistically it just can’t be done.

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