Quoted from sbmania:
How quickly, the sheep are ready to give up their liberty for the illusion of a bit of security! The kabuki theater that passes for security doesn't really do much more than make everyone feel like they are doing something while basically they are just reacting to the last incident. As long as security gives middle aged Americans a thorough search while allowing obviously middle eastern males of military age to pass by unmolested, we are just kidding ourselves. It's kinda like all of the spying the government does on all of our emails, calls and texts, yet they never seem to stop the terror attacks like boston, orlando, la, etc etc. They are paralyzed by too much information in an effort to be fair and politically correct.
Quoted from Richthofen:
I stopped flying after on my way home in Heathrow I was given a very public and incredibly embarrassing patdown. I took the train from providence to Pittsburgh in April; 13 hours but you can bet your ass it was better than flying and getting "randomly selected". The fact that a five dollar bill is now a security event is embarrassing to our country.
And don't give me this "you don't know how many terrorism events they stopped" like these agencies who can't tie their own shoes are suddenly going to go shy and hide all these miraculous plots they stopped.
there are a lot of misguided points in these two posts.
yes, it's true that some ground-level TSA agents are not the brightest bulbs. they don't have to be. the system is designed by pretty smart people and serves multiple useful purposes. (by the way, any plan is a terrible plan if it requires geniuses at every level of its execution).
stopping people actively carrying out an attack is only one small facet of the effect of these security systems. the real benefit is that they stop an unknown number of plots from even being attempted or considered. yes, unfortunately, of course, there is no way to quantify the number of events that simply don't happen. this seems like a weak argument, but bear with me for a minute and consider an analogy:
passwords are an extremely flawed security system for identity verification on computers: the encryption methods used transmit or store these passwords are sometimes possible to defeat through brute force or software vulnerabilities. plus, they are often easy to guess. plus, attempts to make them harder to guess also make them harder to remember -- resulting in people inevitably writing down their passwords, which of course makes them easier to steal. plus, on top of that, people every day are tricked into giving their passwords away. plus, on top of THAT, databases full of password/login combos are stolen every day as well.
and since many people use the same login/password combos for multiple systems, a single stolen password can get a thief access to many of that person's accounts ... and so on and so forth.
there are more secure alternatives that exist with today's technology. digitally signed certificates. multi-factor authentication. thumbprint scanners.
these are valid criticisms, and valid alternatives. so ... why does Pinside, and a majority of systems we use, rely on passwords?
simple -- although it's a flawed tool, it's still extremely effective, and extremely cheap.
do you really want to go through the trouble of getting a certificate signed by an official certification authority just to create a Pinside account? and do you want to deal with that hassle again when the cert expires? do you really want a text message sent to your phone with an access code every time you log on? do you really want Pinside to send out specialized thumbprint readers to every user so they can verify they are who they say they are? of course not, none of that is practical, when the simple measure of login/password combo, though flawed, works fine 99% of the time.
security is never about making anything impregnable. it's about making a security breach more trouble than it's worth for the set of people with incentive to attempt it. that's the fundamental point here. it's ALWAYS in EVERY CASE a cost-benefit analysis, even at the highest levels of the military. it simply has to be, since there's a fundamental principle that the only way to make something 100% secure is to make do without it.
so, back to the password analogy. you can go on and on about how dumb passwords are, but in the end, if we didn't have passwords here on Pinside, there'd be shenanigans all day long with jokers impersonating each other and deleting each other's PMs and so forth. it couldn't actually function without some basic form of identity confirmation. passwords do that without requiring too much hassle or hardware or expense, and in the end breaches don't happen often on this site, and aren't damaging enough to warrant more extreme measures.
so back to the so-called "kubuki theatre" of the TSA. it's a lot like passwords. it's not perfect, but it certainly stops a ton of base-level shenanigans from even being attempted, and also works to necessitate that any organized plots would have to be far more complex and sophisticated than they otherwise would be -- which is a strong disincentive for all but the most determined, organized, intelligent, etc, of extremists. ultimately, in the end, although the system cannot stop all terrorist plots, it does make other countries and other means of attack more attractive targets, and less risky for the terrorist, thus reducing the risk of an attack based out of any of our airports. in that way, it is very effective not so much at preventing in-progress attacks, but ensuring that terrorists look for easier targets elsewhere.
this i actually strongly agree with, but it's really primarily a symptom of the virtually non-existent care our country provides for the extremely mentally ill. i have a close friend whose sister is (in my non-medical professional opinion) clearly deeply schizophrenic. she is incapable of holding a job, she lives with her parents. she constantly has episodes where she's convinced they and/or others are trying to kill her, implanting things in her brain, and so forth. she regularly turns their house upside down looking for surveillance equipment. she calls up relatives and howls at them, terrified and hysterical. and there is nothing anyone will do for her. they have taken her to doctors, and the only advice they get is "try to get her arrested for a felony, then the state can put her away and medicate her." this is outrageous and inhumanly cruel. she is not a criminal. she is extremely ill! she should not be forced to become a branded-for-life criminal just to receive treatment for a completely debilitating and excruciating mental condition. she is not evil, but it is possible that her condition could cause her to harm others. these types of people should be a matter for our mental health care system, not the TSA, but since we do not have a functioning mental health care system, well, these people become the TSA's problem and they are frankly not equipped or trained for that purpose. they're the wrong tool.