Mirthful story in the November 2008 issue of The Atlantic….
Airport security in America is a shamâ€”â€œsecurity theaterâ€ designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists. Smart ones can get through security with fake boarding passes and all manner of prohibited items â€”- as our correspondent did with ease. As we stood at an airport Starbucks, [Bruce] SchneiÂer spread before me a batch of fabricated boarding passes for Northwest Airlines flight 1714, scheduled to depart at 2:20 p.m. and arrive at Reagan National at 5:47 p.m. He had taken the liberty of upgrading us to first class, and had even granted me â€œPlatinum/Elite Plusâ€ status, which was gracious of him. This status would allow us to skip the ranks of hoi-polloi flyers and join the expedited line, which is my preference, because those knotty, teeming security lines are the most dangerous places in airports: terrorists could paralyze U.S. aviation merely by detonating a bomb at any security checkpoint, all of which are, of course, entirely unsecured. (I once asked Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security, about this. â€œWe actually ultimately do have a vision of trying to move the security checkpoint away from the gate, deeper into the airport itself, but thereâ€™s always going to be some place that people congregate. So if youâ€™re asking me, is there any way to protect against a person taking a bomb into a crowded location and blowing it up, the answer is no.â€)
… SchneiÂer and I joined the line with our ersatz boarding passes. â€œTechnically we could get arrested for this,â€ he said, but we judged the risk to be acceptable. We handed our boarding passes and IDs to the security officer, who inspected our driverâ€™s licenses through a loupe, one of those magnifying-glass devices jewelers use for minute examinations of fine detail. This was the moment of maximum peril, not because the boarding passes were flawed, but because the TSA now trains its officers in the science of behavior detection. The SPOT programâ€”â€œScreening of Passengers by Observation Techniquesâ€â€”was based in part on the work of a psychologist who believes that involuntary facial-muscle movements, including the most fleeting â€œmicro-expressions,â€ can betray lying or criminality. The training program for behavior-detection officers is one week long. Our facial muscles did not cooperate with the SPOT program, apparently, because the officer chicken-scratched onto our boarding passes what might have been his signature, or the number 4, or the letter y. We took our shoes off and placed our laptops in bins. SchneiÂer took from his bag a 12-ounce container labeled â€œsaline solution.â€
â€œItâ€™s allowed,â€ he said. Medical supplies, such as saline solution for contact-lens cleaning, donâ€™t fall under the TSAâ€™s three-ounce rule.
â€œWhatâ€™s allowed?â€ I asked. â€œSaline solution, or bottles labeled saline solution?â€
â€œBottles labeled saline solution. They wonâ€™t check whatâ€™s in it, trust me.â€
They did not check.
Related Posts: On this day...
- 28 Days Later - Top Horror Flicks of All Time #10 - 2010
- Koja's UNDER THE POPPY: Dark, epic, and erotic novel of war and intrigue - 2010
- New bill proposes a fine for citizens who DO NOT own a gun - 2009
- Land of the Freeish? - 2009
- Can a license plate frame get speeding drivers off the hook? - 2008
- The Beauty Of This Planet - 2008
- How to Turn Your Browser Into a Weapon - 2007
- How to Talk to Girls - 2007
- Insert Coin - 2007