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Why The TSA Doesn't Stop Terrorist Attacks

I hear College Humor’s video series Adam Ruins Everything (previously at Neatorama) is now a TV show. Here Adam Conover explains how ineffective the TSA airport screenings are. In case you’ve forgotten, all the stripping and scanning and searching we do these days is because of 9/11. Before that, you zipped through a metal detector and ran your carry-on bag through an x-ray machine. They didn't care that you were taking a bottle of tequila to your hosts in some faraway city. Oh, and most of our bags went in the cargo hold because they didn’t charge extra for them back then.

(YouTube link)

But back to the TSA. The extra security routines we go through in an airport are pretty much security theater, not to make us feel safer, but to remind us that we are in constant danger of terrorist attacks, and therefore justifying all that spending. -via Digg


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I used to service music equipment and one of our customers was the officers' mess at Woolwich Arsenal. This was when the IRA were blowing things up quite a bit. I turned up in an estate car full to the brim with boxes and cases and stuff. The guard on the gate looked underneath with a mirror on a stick, said it was all clear and waved me through.

I didn't even have genuine ID - just a card I'd made myself from one of my boss's business cards, some Letraset and the library's laminator.
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Back in the 70s when universal bag checks started (in response to DB Copper and his ilk), there's no question they drastically and dramatically eliminated instances of hijacking and extortion aboard airlines, which were happening practically every week. But it didn't stop every idiot by force... The big, extra hurdle was just so widely known, that people stopped trying. Flash forward to today, and the same COULD be true... Potential terrorist might give up on hijacking or bombing planes before they start, because everybody knows about the extra security measures. Like the 70s, the only way to prove it is to try going years without the security measures as a test, and see how many people get killed.

I'm firmly in the TSA-goes-too-far camp, but there are plenty of arguements to be made against the blanket assertions in the video.
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At the Oklahoma City airport: A huge sign announcing that all cars entering the parking lot must have their trunks searched by the TSA; a long traffic jam, as a result of all of the cars being stopped.
When it was my turn, the TSA guy told me to pop the trunk. He looked inside, saw that it contained a couple of suitcases, and then let me drive on. I asked him if they've caught any bad guys. "No", he said.
The boneheads at the TSA never considered that:
1) Bad guys with bombs in their cars will probably drive directly to the terminal loading zone and not bother going to the parking lot;
2) Bad guys might hide their bombs inside of a suitcase;
3) Bad guys might put their bombs elsewhere in the car, besides in the trunk, since only trunks are searched;
4) Even if a really stupid bad guy had a ticking bomb just sitting in his trunk and then decided to drive to the parking lot, the huge sign announcing trunk-searches might persuade him to change his plan or go back home.
As a result, not one bad guy is ever caught, but lots and lots of good guys are delayed and miss their flights. Thanks, TSA!
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Ah, but for the days of walking through metal detectors with a pocket full of change and meeting loved ones as they deboarded the plane.

Small correction for the millennials out there: The "we take all uses of 'bomb' seriously, even jokes" thing was in airports before 9/11. At least, in the ones I flew starting in the '90s. It may have been just to make us feel more secure (as the video says), but it might have also been "don't cry wolf" put into law.
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