Study of the TSA confirms their brain cells are lonely

I’ve been saying this for years, pointed out the TSA is engaged in illegal acts, they know they are illegal, they are stupid, even idiotic, security is a joke, and then I suggested some tests of better security concepts. Now the Harvard School of Public Health says:

Study: Airport Screening Process Pointless

Airport security lines can annoy passengers, but there is no evidence that they make flying any safer, U.S. researchers reported Thursday.


“Even without clear evidence of the accuracy of testing, the Transportation Security Administration defended its measures by reporting that more than 13 million prohibited items were intercepted in one year,” the researchers added. “Most of these illegal items were lighters.”

This is like the Brady Bunch crowing at how effective NICS is because millions of people have been denied the sale of a firearm. Never mind that some of those people were guilty of “crimes” like being in possession of a deck of cards having naked white women on them (the “criminal” was black) and that the Brady act has never been shown to have made the public safer (Just One Question).

“We’d like airport security screening to be of value. As passengers and members of the public we’d like to know the evidence and the reasoning behind these measures,” Linos said in a telephone interview.

With $5.6 billion spent globally on airport protection each year, the public should be encouraged to query some screening requirements — such as forcing passengers to remove their shoes, the researchers said.

“Can you hide anything in your shoes that you cannot hide in your underwear?” they asked.

A TSA spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

The British Medical Journal contributed:

There is no solid evidence that the huge amounts of money spent on airport security screening measures since September 11th are effective, argue researchers in the Christmas issue of the BMJ.


Despite worldwide airport protection costing an estimated $5.6 billion every year, they found no comprehensive studies evaluating the effectiveness of passenger or hand luggage x-ray screening, metal detectors or explosive detection devices. There was also no clear evidence of testing accuracy.

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) defends its measures by reporting that more than 13 million prohibited items were intercepted in one year. But, argue the authors, there is no way of knowing what proportion of these items would have led to serious harm.

This raises several questions, they say, such as what is the sensitivity of the screening question: ‘Did you pack all your bags yourself?’ and has anyone ever said ‘no’? What are the ethical implications of pre-selecting high risk groups? Are new technologies that ‘see’ through clothes acceptable and what hazards should we screen for?

While there may be other benefits to rigorous airport screening, the absence of publicly available evidence to satisfy even the most basic criteria of a good screening programme concerns us, they write.

Put this another way. If you were selling a product advertised as curing some disease and it, in fact, did no better in scientific tests than a placebo you would be at least fined and probably go to jail. If you sold a product advertised to allow your car to use water as fuel you could be sued when it didn’t work. But the U.S. Government can get away with providing nothing more than comfort to those that want to feel more secure while actually decreasing the security of travelers at great expense.

Can you imagine a snake-oil salesman using the defense, “My customers wanted to feel they were doing something even if their disease was incurable. Therefore I did nothing wrong.” Prosecutors would break out the victory champagne before the defense drew their next breath. And so it should be with the TSA. Either they are incredibly stupid or they are snake-oil salesmen who should go to jail.


One thought on “Study of the TSA confirms their brain cells are lonely

  1. At least they finally did away with the question that went something like “Has anyone placed anything in your luggage without your knowledge?”

    If it was without my knowledge, how would I know to tell them???

    Speaking of people failing background checks, at least in Kalifornia, you will fail the firearm purchase background check (which is a dual check- a state one + NICS) if you have too many unpaid tickets (including parking tickets) or are behind on your child support payments or even if you have an outstanding debt with the state such as from an old income tax bill.

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