Via Bruce Schneier we have this extremely timely and fascinating article, The Evolving Challenges for Explosive Detection in the Aviation Sector and Beyond:
Another misnomer propagated largely in the press is that these type of explosives threats are not detectable with currently deployed technologies. This is false. The latest generation ETDs, when used in combination with the latest X-ray technologies, are generally excellent at detecting TNT, plasticized explosives such as C-4, PETN (Detasheet), and Semtex. This powerful combination of technologies should catch these explosives threats, even if it were concealed in the electronics of a laptop, because ETD swabs can detect minute amounts of residue.
Even an amateur chemist doesn’t have to think about this topic much to come up with explosives that are undetectable with the latest generation of explosive trace detection (ETD) equipment. As near as I can tell things I pointed out nearly nine years ago are still vulnerabilities.
The OIG also reported last summer that tests of the screening system showed that 95 percent of attempts to smuggle weapons through U.S. checkpoints were successful.
The reality of our current war on terrorism is that the costs are inversely correlated. Terrorists can use inexpensive but highly effective means to attack high-value and highly protected targets, forcing governments to take stricter and more costly measures to provide protection. Their model scales while ours becomes more difficult to sustain. Until we are successful in changing the paradigm in which cheap terrorism is effective terrorism, we need to be prepared to continue to invest in technologies and processes that make it more difficult for them to succeed.
Emphasis added. I agree with this. We must change the paradigm. We currently have nothing but security theater.
We are spending trillions of dollars and have nothing of substance to show for it. Those resources could, and should, have been spend in some serious elimination of terrorists rather than attempting to make it incrementally difficult for them at exponential costs to us. We have the resources and technology to make it exponentially expensive for them at incremental cost for us. We have a ruthless enemy who is willing to murder untold numbers of innocent people. We dealt with cultures like this in WWII and fundamentally changed their mindset to make the culture more tolerant to people who were different from them. These intolerant, evil, enemies are now tolerant, functional, members of a world society. It’s time to treat our current enemy with the known cure for evil.