November 17, 2010

Profiteering from the Sheep

Joshua Rhett Miller has made a rather disgusting display of bad journalism on today, in an article about the TSA's invasive news passenger screening program that either irradiates passengers or results in their sexual assault by TSA employees.

In an apparent effort to buttress the TSA position, Miller goes to Carie Lemack and Mary and Frank Fetchet for their opinions. None of the three are air security professionals, bomb techs or terrorism experts. Their only uniting thread is that they had relatives killed as passengers on planes on 9/11.

This is nothing more or less than a false appeal to authority, as if traumatic loss granted security expertise or insights. The Fetchets and LeMack have no special knowledge. Their opinions are no more relevant to a discussion of air security than is a Kalahari bushman's.

We're plagued by incompetence in Homeland Security, and journalists like Miller are clouding the issue by asking the unqualified for advice.

Neither the millimeter-wave or backscatter X-ray technologies increase security for air passengers, anymore than does taking off your shoes, surrendering corkscrews or nail files, or reducing the size of your mouthwash bottles. All of these are gimmicks developed to give the impression that authorities are making us safer, even as the real gaping holes in air security remain as wide-open as they always have been.

Anyone could walk through the most advanced millimeter-wave or backscatter X-ray machines on the market with enough explosives to down an airliner. This isn't up for debate. It is an unassailable fact.

Homeland Security is spending hundreds of millions of dollars because Janet Napolitano likes to pretend she is worth her salary, while former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff turns a tidy profit from the machines themselves. It isn't about your safety. It's about profiting from your fear, and with something around 80% buying the government's claims, it appears they are succeeding.

Baa. Baa. Baa.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at November 17, 2010 05:07 PM

My opinion has always been: If you are afraid don't do it. We don't really need all this appearance of protection. This is about stealing more from the citizens again. This is about control. American do not do control very well. It shall not last.The shall stop it or be forced to stop. The old Romans knew very well; the will of the mob rules. Do anything but anger the mob. It is its own beast and will not be tamed.

Posted by: Odins Acolyte at November 17, 2010 06:33 PM

An excellent post! There is a model of successful airport security that has been functioning extremely well for years: Israel. The US has no real security in place. The Homeland Security is worse than useless, and the attacks that have been foiled have been due to ordinary citizens. I agree with you 100%.

Posted by: Texana at November 17, 2010 08:07 PM

The next time I fly - which is an incredibly rare event - I'll wear gold lamé boxers. I wonder what that will do to their pictures.

Posted by: MikeM_inMd at November 17, 2010 11:22 PM

Yeah, and I suspect that all those loud-mouthed "spokepersons/clowns" who went through that oh so friendly little pat-down in their offices would be singing a different tune if they had been groped in the airport where nobody knew who they were.

Posted by: emdfl at November 17, 2010 11:30 PM

"I'll wear gold lamé boxers. I wonder what that will do to their pictures."

Nothing, they just crank up the power to where they can see right through them.

And pull you out of line for a cavity search after of course.


The biggest security risk isn't passengers, never has been passengers.
It's airport workers, staff in duty free stores, ground crew, luggage handlers.
Those people don't undergo any screening before entering secure areas apart from a cursory ID check (if that, more often it's an automated door you can walk through with any number of people if only one has a pass card).
And many airports have gaping holes in their perimeter security, holes that are well known to those living in the area.

I live near a major European airport (and security here has always been tighter than in the US), where friends have found ways to walk onto the ramp to take pictures of parked aircraft and inside hangars post-9/11.
These friends were aviation enthousiasts who sent those pictures to airport authorities as proof of the major breaches in their perimeter, and action may have been taken to correct those gaps (I never checked).
But there are still regular stories about problems with airport perimeter security, people getting access passes who should never have had them, reporters planting hidden cameras and fake bombs on airport property using stolen or borrowed pass cards, things like that.
And I've seen first hand how lax the security checks of airport workers are. If the weather is bad (cold or rainy) just waving something that looks like a passcard at the guard huddled inside his shack gets you through, especially if you're in a group of people doing the same.

I seriously doubt the situation in the US is any different.

Posted by: W at November 18, 2010 02:45 AM


Posted by: lazrtex at November 18, 2010 04:37 PM