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Schneier, Journalist Poke Holes In TSA Policies

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the leave-my-shoes-alone dept.

Transportation 296

Fallen Andy points out an article in The Atlantic written by Jeffrey Goldberg. He and Bruce Schneier teamed up to put the TSA's policies to the test at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. They found plenty of evidence for security theater, and rather less for actual security. Quoting: "'The whole system is designed to catch stupid terrorists,' Schneier told me. ... As I stood in the bathroom, ripping up boarding passes, waiting for the social network of male bathroom users to report my suspicious behavior, I decided to make myself as nervous as possible. I would try to pass through security with no ID, a fake boarding pass, and an Osama bin Laden T-shirt under my coat. I splashed water on my face to mimic sweat, put on a coat (it was a summer day), hid my driver's license, and approached security with a bogus boarding pass that Schneier had made for me. ... 'All right, you can go,' [an airport security supervisor] said, pointing me to the X-ray line. 'But let this be a lesson for you.'"

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Well... (5, Insightful)

Ironix (165274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419787)

I wouldn't doubt that the whole system isn't there to catch actual terrorists, but to simply condition the populace into accepting this kind of routine as a the standard quo. Fo

Re:Well... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420015)

Troll? =(

Re:Well... (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420363)

No.

Re:Well... (4, Informative)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420411)

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420511)

Aren't you proving his point? Your response affirms his point; your question seems to want to differ --but it doesn't. I don't get your response --at least not it's tone. You are using interrogatives where you should be using affirmatives.

Re:Well... (1)

Marful (861873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420587)

You do realize that GrumblyStuff is responding to the AC calling Ironix a troll?

Inconceivable!

Re:Well... (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420831)

You do realize that GrumblyStuff is responding to the AC calling Ironix a troll?

He shoulda used the quote to give his post some context. The AC is as much to blame for not following the thread as GS is for not being clear enough in his post in case someone didn't read the thread.

Re:Well... (4, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25421015)

I wouldn't doubt that the whole system isn't there to catch actual terrorists, but to simply condition the populace into accepting this kind of routine as a the standard quo. Fo

You left off "shizzle".

Schneier bothers me (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419807)

While he occasionally manages to pass on common sense to people who are confused by propaganda, he still manages to pass on the propaganda! Where this journalist is saying that TSA policies are not there to catch terrorists, they're just there to make people feel better, Schneier is giving advice on how to improve the policies to catch terrorists. They're not interested in catching terrorists Bruce!

He rocks the boat, but he never connects the dots.

 

Re:Schneier bothers me (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419867)

I agree. I miss the Schneier who was the author of Applied Cryptography [amazon.com] , an icon for the cypherpunks who seemed to foretell a coming golden age of privacy, where the average man would sock it to the Man with strong crypto. I understand his view that crypto isn't everything anymore, but he has gone from being an inspiring figure to a guy who seems like he just wants to look sagely and get lots of clients for his consulting business.

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419957)

Besides which, he's just flat out wrong sometimes:

Schneier told me the recipe: "Get some steel epoxy glue at a hardware store. It comes in two tubes, one with steel dust and then a hardener. You make the mold by folding a piece of cardboard in two, and then you mix the two tubes together. You can use a metal spoon for the handle. It hardens in 15 minutes."

Just fly first class. Use the steak knife.

OTOH - just what do you plane to do next chucko - stab your way into the cockpit cabin? The whole article is pretty inane - Real Terrorists(TM) don't wear Hezbolah T-shirts. It appears that the TSA crews that he encountered by and large accurately pegged him as a harmless goof.

Of course, these are largely the same group of fine folks that let my wife go through three checkpoints with a pair of bright orange, one inch diameter explosive flares that said "FLARE" in big black letters that were sitting in plain view in the mesh pockets of her backpack.

Sigh.

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Funny)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420179)

No no, it all makes perfect sense. It's all about behavior profiling. You see, any terrorist will take pains to hide his activities. Therefore anyone who looks like a terrorist most certainly isn't one. Anyone who carries guns, bombs, or other contraband openly is by definition safe, and so doesn't need to be searched.

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Funny)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420451)

So if I'm hypothetically waving around an AK-47 and saying "Allah is Great!", I'm just a funny goofball?

Re:Schneier bothers me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420595)

If you were to just do it "hypothetically", yeah, you'd be a funny goofball, indeed.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

Marful (861873) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420605)

Yes, you'd be just a funny goofball. An armed and dangerous goofball to be sure...

Now if you were saying Allahu Akbar instead of Allah is Great... then things might be different.

Re:Schneier bothers me (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420865)

No no, it all makes perfect sense. It's all about behavior profiling. You see, any terrorist will take pains to hide his activities. Therefore anyone who looks like a terrorist most certainly isn't one. Anyone who carries guns, bombs, or other contraband openly is by definition safe, and so doesn't need to be searched.

That's a good theory but ... what if they know that we know they're trying to hide their activities? And what if we know that they know that we know they're trying to hide ... that means that they would have to try and hide ... because then we'd know they knew we knew they were trying to hide ... so they wouldn't bother. See? It's really simple when you sit down and analyze it.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420203)

Well, you gut the first attendant, while they are on the ground screaming in pain the other passengers will look on horrified and panic.

Kick the cockpit door in(there pretty easy) and make your demands, meanwhile your partner(s) also gut a few people to keep everyone in order.

Sound familiar?

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Interesting)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420345)

Kick the cockpit door in(there pretty easy) and make your demands, meanwhile your partner(s) also gut a few people to keep everyone in order.

At this point, you're going to run up against the one advance in airplane security that *has* been made post-9/11: you're not getting through the reinforced cockpit door with anything less than a battering ram.

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420391)

At this point, you're going to run up against the one advance in airplane security that *has* been made post-9/11: you're not getting through the reinforced cockpit door with anything less than a battering ram.

No, the one advance in security is not the door to the cockpit, it's the understanding on everyone's part that cooperating with a hijacker isn't in anyone's interest anymore, and the half a dozen guys (and maybe a few women) who will be beating the terrorist to a bloody pulp as the rest of the passengers applaud.

United 93 was a test. The next time, the plane won't go down while the bad guys get killed.

Re:Schneier bothers me (4, Funny)

besalope (1186101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420757)

Wouldn't it be easier to just fly "SouthWest"?

Re:Schneier bothers me (2, Insightful)

tha_mink (518151) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420817)

United 93 was a test. The next time, the plane won't go down while the bad guys get killed.

Yep. Had to happen once, but won't happen twice.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420899)

It depends. If the hijackers managed to get on board with something a little more deadly than a box-cutter knife, it's hard to say what would happen. Trained soldiers can go up against real firepower and maybe win out, but a mass of average citizens wouldn't know how. It's not enough to just throw your life away: if you're up against an enemy that seriously outguns you, you really have to know what you're doing. It can still be done, but it's not so simple as overcoming a guy with a knife.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420873)

who will be beating the terrorist to a bloody pulp as the rest of the passengers applaud.

Of course, what you're forgetting is that there's still the occasional hijacker who really does just want to fly to Cuba.

Re:Schneier bothers me (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420903)

Of course, what you're forgetting is that there's still the occasional hijacker who really does just want to fly to Cuba.

This isn't something I have to worry about forgetting, it's something he better not forget. He's not going to make it.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#25421029)

who will be beating the terrorist to a bloody pulp as the rest of the passengers applaud.

Of course, what you're forgetting is that there's still the occasional hijacker who really does just want to fly to Cuba.

Well, he should have thought of that before trying to hijack a flight out of the States, shouldn't he? :3

Re:Schneier bothers me (2)

mp3LM (785954) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420921)

I have heard this as well. I also heard the cockpit door was supposed to stay closed the entire time of the flight, which is why I was dis-heartened the last time I was on a plain and I saw them freely opening the cockpit door.

Re:Schneier bothers me (4, Insightful)

EaglemanBSA (950534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420971)

Or the other one...the pilot with a .40 Glock who's trained to kill people with it under his arm. I know, my brother is one.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

Jorophose (1062218) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420981)

And then you're trapped, and the passengers WILL start throwing punches. That's another post-911 lesson: I don't think anybody will let you ever hijack a plane, even if it's just going to land safely later.

Re:Schneier bothers me (4, Funny)

murdocj (543661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420509)

Yeah, it does sound familiar, which is why it isn't going to happen. Because immediately after you gut the flight attendent, 200 people who don't want to be flown into a big building are going to jump you. Basically, any kind of "smuggle a knife on and seize the plane from all the cowering people" isn't going to work anymore, because people would rather take a chance on getting knifed, than be killed for sure in plane crash.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420255)

Just fly first class. Use the steak knife.

Never flown first class. Several times gotten steel knives. Sure, they were as un-sharp as can be, but even I could sharpen one in few minutes to be *very* sharp (with a "stone" or diamond sharpener).

The only time I was stopped was because I a "little" electronics, GPS, MP3, camera, razor, etc. and chargers & car adapter for most of those ...

Re:Schneier bothers me (0, Troll)

hemp (36945) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420913)

Obviously, you actually never fly first class. Steak knives have been replaced by plastic knives.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

mweather (1089505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25421051)

Plastic knives? [selfdefence.com]

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420035)

You have a point; but I'm not sure whether the change is a result of selling out, or a principled(if very depressing) change in his view of security, based on subsequent experience. After all, the broader cultural appeal of the "cypherpunks sticking it to the man on the unregulable internet that treats censorship as damage and routes around it" has fallen massively. You used to hear it all the time; both from various luminaries and in regurgitated form from flacks and cheerleaders, not nearly as much anymore.

I suspect that it has something to do with his focus on the human element of security. The fact that you can build a cryptosystem that the feds can't break on your own computer with free tools, a modest knowledge of c, and some acquaintance with number theory is pretty damn cool. The fact that your fellow citizens will cheer as the feds waterboard the key out of you really puts that in perspective, though. It is hard to be a cypherpunk utopian when less than 1% of the population can be bothered to follow a step-by-step FAQ to set up PGP, and even geeks respond to google's data mining of their email by telling you how nice the interface is. Techies can argue, correctly, that the great firewall or any other censorware is full of fairly pitiful holes. That doesn't change the fact that it puts up enough resistance(which isn't much) to keep 95% of china's equivalent of average Joe from trying to get past it.

In a way, I think that the cypherpunk ideal fell apart when they built it and nobody came. All sorts of strong crypto are available to everybody, for free, and aren't even all that much trouble to use. Almost nobody bothers, probably so few that those who do just stand out by doing so.

I don't like the idea; but I strongly suspect that Schneier's decline in inspiration has more to do with his assessment of the state of security than it does with any specific sellout.

Re:Schneier bothers me (3, Insightful)

mangu (126918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420199)

In a way, I think that the cypherpunk ideal fell apart when they built it and nobody came. All sorts of strong crypto are available to everybody, for free, and aren't even all that much trouble to use. Almost nobody bothers, probably so few that those who do just stand out by doing so.

Worse than that, it seems like anyone who knows anything about cryptography is automatically suspect these days. "If you have nothing to hide, then why do you need that"?

Re:Schneier bothers me (2, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#25421021)

In a way, I think that the cypherpunk ideal fell apart when they built it and nobody came. All sorts of strong crypto are available to everybody, for free, and aren't even all that much trouble to use. Almost nobody bothers, probably so few that those who do just stand out by doing so.

Worse than that, it seems like anyone who knows anything about cryptography is automatically suspect these days. "If you have nothing to hide, then why do you need that"?

Sad but true. Of course, if people actually thought about this, they'd all have strong crypto. If the Feds grab your laptop, for example, they'll look for anything they can nail you on, "terroristic" or not. This confiscatory behavior on the part of the TSA is officially called "intelligence gathering" but what it really is is a widespread fishing expedition.

If any of you carry computers around with you that are used regularly by, say, your co-workers ... would you really trust that machine to pass scrutiny by agents highly motivated to get something on you for their trouble? That's the real problem here. As has been discussed many times here on Slashdot, so many things are felonies nowadays that odds are, if they want you, they'll make something stick. Believe me, you don't ever want to be inside the Justice System as an ordinary citizen. You just don't, and forget about whether you're innocent or not. Fortunately, precedent has been set that encryption passphrases are subject to the Fifth Amendment: let's hope that sticks.

So folks, encrypt your stuff. It's easy [cryptography.org] , it's painless and it's free [truecrypt.org] , and it wouldn't hurt to proselytize a bit, and get your friends and family to try it out as well. The more popular encryption becomes, the harder it will be to outlaw.

Re:Schneier bothers me (1)

lysergic.acid (845423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420249)

that's because he's a security expert, not a political pundit. people turn to him for analysis & advice about security practices, not about political issues.

i think it would weaken his credibility if he tries to overstep the bounds of his expertise.

Re:Schneier bothers me (2, Insightful)

neapolitan (1100101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420261)

I agree on one hand, but in a way I think that he is asking the TSA to do what I don't want them to do in many ways, which is behavioral profiling. This also does not work (at least has a very low specificity and sensitivity), and could make our lives a lot worse by harassment instead of uniform policies.

Stopping somebody because they are sweating is a bit ambitious, and is similar to what has been going on:

http://govtsecurity.com/transportation_security/TSAsSPOTunit/ [govtsecurity.com]

which is worse for most nerds. I am not surprised by this article, and do not have any quick solutions. We can't stop the security theater (honestly, would you want to not have ANY Xray of luggage or metal detection?) and I am not sure that any behavioral detection is better...

Re:Schneier bothers me (3, Insightful)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420367)

He rocks the boat...

And therin lies the fundamental difference between a noted expert in the Security field and the average joe. Bruce can and does rock the boat, where the average joes opinion would barely make a splash against the side of an inflatable raft.

While I agree there seems to be more grandstanding nowadays, if anyone is going to effect some level of change, the chances are far greater with his sig at the bottom of the Security report.

As with all things Security, it's always taken in baby steps unless something VERY large happens.

Re:Schneier bothers me (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420867)

woohoo! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25419823)

A couple weeks ago, while browsing around the library downtown, I had to take a piss. As I entered the john, Barack Obama -- the messiah himself -- came out of one of the booths. I stood at the urinal looking at him out of the corner of my eye as he washed his hands. He didn't once look at me. He was busy and in any case I was sure the secret service wouldn't even let me shake his hand.

As soon as he left I darted into the booth he'd vacated, hoping there might be a lingering smell of shit and even a seat still warm from his sturdy ass. I found not only the smell but the shit itself. He'd forgotten to flush. And what a treasure he had left behind. Three or four beautiful specimens floated in the bowl. It apparently had been a fairly dry, constipated shit, for all were fat, stiff, and ruggedly textured. The real prize was a great feast of turd -- a nine inch gastrointestinal triumph as thick as his cock -- or at least as I imagined it!

I knelt before the bowl, inhaling the rich brown fragrance and wondered if I should obey the impulse building up inside me. I'd always been a liberal democrat and had been on the Obama train since last year. Of course I'd had fantasies of meeting him, sucking his cock and balls, not to mention sucking his asshole clean, but I never imagined I would have the chance. Now, here I was, confronted with the most beautiful five-pound turd I'd ever feasted my eyes on, a sausage fit to star in any fantasy and one I knew to have been hatched from the asshole of Barack Obama, the chosen one.

Why not? I plucked it from the bowl, holding it with both hands to keep it from breaking. I lifted it to my nose. It smelled like rich, ripe limburger (horrid, but thrilling), yet had the consistency of cheddar. What is cheese anyway but milk turning to shit without the benefit of a digestive tract?

I gave it a lick and found that it tasted better then it smelled.

I hesitated no longer. I shoved the fucking thing as far into my mouth as I could get it and sucked on it like a big half nigger cock, beating my meat like a madman. I wanted to completely engulf it and bit off a large chunk, flooding my mouth with the intense, bittersweet flavor. To my delight I found that while the water in the bowl had chilled the outside of the turd, it was still warm inside. As I chewed I discovered that it was filled with hard little bits of something I soon identified as peanuts. He hadn't chewed them carefully and they'd passed through his body virtually unchanged. I ate it greedily, sending lump after peanutty lump sliding scratchily down my throat. My only regret was that Barack Obama wasn't there to see my loyalty and wash it down with his piss.

I soon reached a terrific climax. I caught my cum in the cupped palm of my hand and drank it down. Believe me, there is no more delightful combination of flavors than the hot sweetness of cum with the rich bitterness of shit. It's even better than listening to an Obama speech!

Afterwards I was sorry that I hadn't made it last longer. But then I realized that I still had a lot of fun in store for me. There was still a clutch of virile turds left in the bowl. I tenderly fished them out, rolled them into my handkerchief, and stashed them in my briefcase. In the week to come I found all kinds of ways to eat the shit without bolting it right down. Once eaten it's gone forever unless you want to filch it third hand out of your own asshole. Not an unreasonable recourse in moments of desperation or simple boredom.

I stored the turds in the refrigerator when I was not using them but within a week they were all gone. The last one I held in my mouth without chewing, letting it slowly dissolve. I had liquid shit trickling down my throat for nearly four hours. I must have had six orgasms in the process.

I often think of Barack Obama dropping solid gold out of his sweet, pink asshole every day, never knowing what joy it could, and at least once did, bring to a grateful democrat.

lol (2, Insightful)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419825)

"'But let this be a lesson for you.'"

Yes, the security checks are total bogus. Glad we have shown that in the open right now...

Re:lol (4, Informative)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419979)

George Carlin had that nailed years and years ago when he said security is there to make the white middle-class feel safe. There is simply no way to make it safe, too many variables.

RIP George.

Re:lol (4, Insightful)

Prikolist (1260608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420157)

It's not intended to make people safe or feel safe, that's just the excuse and the reason why the excuse works. Really TSA is just another step to reduce people's rights and move to a de-facto authoritarian state... Never doubted it, this story just proves it: they never even cared that it's effective to catch terrorists, nothing to do with that, just get people used to random unwarranted searches and seizures and arrests. It's the government and media that sucks up to it that keep people scared, keep them afraid, keep them in a state of terror... oh wait, isn't that what the evil terrorists are supposed to do not the government that "protects" from them? Does anyone even remember what does the word "terrorist" mean? Sorry for rent, it accumulates every once in a while...

Re:lol (0, Troll)

murdocj (543661) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420631)

Right, and that's why, despite the security measures, planes are just raining out of the sky as every lunatic, fruitcake, and religious extremist puts bombs, machines guns and poison gas on planes.

Re:lol (4, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420705)

How is that any sort of argument? Planes weren't raining out of the sky before the TSA was around, or even before any security measures were being taken.

I will sell you this rock, it keeps tigers away....

Re:lol (3, Interesting)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420415)

No, it's not there to make you feel safe. It's there to make you feel like you should feel safe, and be grateful for it, while feeling nervous enough to ask for more.

It *is* good theater (4, Interesting)

grizdog (1224414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419841)

Harry Shearer collects "Tales of Airport Security" for Le Show [harryshearer.com] , and some of them are pretty funny. Search on "airport" and you'll get them, although I recommend the whole show.

3 steps to happiness (0, Flamebait)

SolidAltar (1268608) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419845)

1. Try to get arrested in an airport by acting like a terrorist
2. ???
3. ???

Re:3 steps to happiness (4, Funny)

az1324 (458137) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420969)

2. Begin to exhibit religious zealotry
3. Prophet?

Obamaism (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25419877)

When I went through at JFK and asked questions about why they were segregating my bag the supervisor came over and accused me of suffering from "Obamaism".

I complained and TSA dismissed my complaint that the supervisor was making a joke. Really? TSA thinks that a citizen asking about his rights is a joke? Really?

Re:Obamaism (1)

Swave An deBwoner (907414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420593)

When I went through at JFK and asked questions about why they were segregating my bag the supervisor came over and accused me of suffering from "Obamaism". I complained and TSA dismissed my complaint that the supervisor was making a joke. Really? TSA thinks that a citizen asking about his rights is a joke? Really?

Dear Anonymous Coward, Seriously, if you think that telling you why they were suspicious of your bag is warranted, consider that a spy network could use that information (collected for numerous instances of suspicion, over many sample tests of going through the TSA search process) to learn how to expertly avoid suspicion. Certainly security could be improved in many ways, and I think that you have the right to leave the airport if you don't want to be treated with suspicion there, but really, tutoring all comers on the fine points of what triggers the alarm is not the brightest way to proceed.

Re:Obamaism (3, Interesting)

Dillon2112 (197474) | more than 5 years ago | (#25421111)

Poor reasoning. He didn't ask for a lesson in what trips their wire of suspicious, he asked *why* they were going through his stuff. The answer can be as simple as "We saw an object on the xray that might be contraband." or even "We have reason to believe a prohibited item may be in your bag." It doesn't actually tell the passenger a whole lot, but at least it categorizes the event as "we think we may have some evidence" vs. "It's totally random" vs. "You look nervous, so we're giving you more attention."

But let's face it - no one likes security, and it's fair to know what can hang you up - that's why they publish the rules. If they come out and say "Hey, you had a container that was exactly 3oz of liquid, sometimes we can't tell if it goes over the limit without closer inspection", then you can start carrying 2oz bottles of contact solution to put yourself further in the "safe" area. It's good for you, and it's good for security.

Further, hoping that the enemy doesn't know what magic lines you've drawn as a basis for your security is a horrible plan. Security should be tight because it's tight, not because no one knows the ways in which it sucks. It's the old argument over whether open source is more vulnerable because everyone can see the code; time and again it has been shown that open source can be at least as secure as closed source.

Re:Obamaism (1, Insightful)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420693)

Oh, I can do one better.

Once, in the not too distant past, I was under investigation for fraud (never taken to court, just some asshole decided it would be nice to 'get even' by calling the man with some bogus crap).

As the DA investigator was standing in my doorway, I asked him about Due Process and what happened to "Innocent until proven guilty".

His response (no shit): "You haven't proven your innocence yet".

I couldn't figure out if he was serious, or it was a lack of being able to speakuh da engrish... Jose had a real problem and had to ask me to reiterate my statements more than once.

BUT, to have an asshole as the DA investigator that could even misconstrue basic legal proceedings like that is, well.... Telling.

--Toll_Free

Technically, the TSA did its job right. (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419927)

After all, they didn't arrest, because he didn't present a threat. And he didn't. So it's a bit difficult to say that the system failed, based on this story.

However, it's interesting to see exactly how little actual security there is at the airport. Bruce is right - the only thing new is better cockpit doors and passengers who'd rather die than get high-jacked.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419947)

But you knew that already. Everything Bruce says is common knowledge. Do you really need him to reaffirm it?

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (2, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420023)

Exactly right. Bruce is missing something that he normally understands quite well. Security begins and ends with the individual. Anyone trying anything funny on an airplane for the next 30 years will immediately get swarmed by the rest of the passengers who won't give a shit for their own lives so long as they can prevent the terrorist from carrying out his plan.

There is no system or process you can build that is stronger or more robust than this.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (5, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420193)

And yet we're wasting billions of dollars of our money building worthless systems on top of that. That's your money, and my money. I want it to stop. The best way to do this is to show how useless it is.

I think you misunderstand Bruce's objections. He does not simply object to the fact that the TSA is insecure. He objects to the fact that the TSA wastes huge piles of money, and those huge piles of money could be used for better things.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420677)

Bruce isn't missing that at all. He cites that regularly as one of the only two things that have actually changed to improve security. He also points out that the two changes that matter are also pretty damned good -- particularly together. A terrorist's odds of getting through that reinforced cockpit door while fending off the passengers is practically nil.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420953)

Bruce is missing something

No. No he isn't. TFA directly quotes him discussing EXACTLY what you say he is "missing":

"'Only two things have made flying safer: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.'"

The point that you, and many others are missing, however, is a couple lines down:

"the country would be just as safe as it is today if airport security were rolled back to pre-9/11 levels. 'Spend the rest of your money [elsewhere, for better effects.]'"

ie. The security of airlines is NOT at issue. The EFFECTIVENESS OF TSA, is. You would do better to save money by cutting back on TSA, and INVESTING it elsewhere. Elsewhere may be more maintenance on commercial jets, improving air traffic control, or perhaps even a few more air marshals.

TSA is wasting lots of money, needlessly hassling travelers, and for all that, there's no appreciable improvement in security.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420641)

the only thing new is better cockpit doors and passengers who'd rather die than get high-jacked.

Which is all we need. I want my pocket knife back.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420683)

While I agree he didn't pose a threat, the fact is the TSA does not allow you to fly with over 4 ounces of liquid, or a knife. They brought huge amounts of liquid in a beer belly and "saline" bottles and showed how silly the knife restrictions are.

Re:Technically, the TSA did its job right. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420709)

Okay, how about the 80% of test bombs they let through screening?

Strictly speaking the system worked (1)

jamesangel (621361) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419935)

He isn't a threat, and the system didn't treat him as once. What has he proved?

Re:Strictly speaking the system worked (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#25419973)

1. It's trivial to get around airport security.
2. Everyone knows this.
3. There hasn't been any hijackings.

Therefore:

4. There is no-one attempting hijackings.

Re:Strictly speaking the system worked (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420495)

5. Therefore the whole inconvenience bit is actually pointless.

I think that's the general point. The theatre is pointless, so stop wasting everyone's time and dignity by making us go through with it.

Re:Strictly speaking the system worked (1)

DoraLives (622001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420563)



It's not like we didn't already know the whole damn thing was a charade in the first place.

And I can't know what was "proved," but I can certainly conjecture that he's temporarily made things worse for the rest of us.

Once the eager beavers in security get wind of this little tale, you may rely upon the fact that they're all going to see to it that they never get singled out for being unacceptably lax on the cattle they process for a living.

Great.

Just what I wanted.

More damn bullshit going through security at the airport.

Re:Strictly speaking the system worked (-1, Troll)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420697)

That anyone with a blog considers themselves a journalist.

And most people under 35 are too stupid to know the difference between a journalist and an idiot with a website.

--Toll_Free

Re:Strictly speaking the system worked (4, Funny)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420937)

If by 'blog' you mean The Atlantic, a printed magazine which has existed since 1857 and has hundreds of thousands of subscribers, then perhaps you're right.

Whom does this surprise? (3, Insightful)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420007)

You would think that if it were effective, they would be capturing people with provable ill intent. And you'd further think that if they did this, they'd want to tell th e world, loudly! After all, they could justify their own existence that way.

Yet somehow, we haven't heard of one Mighty Terrorist being caught by TSA. ONe must assume that this is because they are not /being/ caught. So... if TSA is not catching terrorists, what the hell are they doing?

The sole purpose is to make people feel protected (or violated, depending on your perspective). There's a sizeable portion of the population who feels reassured when senior citizens and soccer moms get pulled out of line for a closer search.

Land of the free.

Right.

Re:Whom does this surprise? (2, Insightful)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420093)

They're too busy catching gray-haired grannies with long pointy knitting needles. Oh, and hassling people with joint replacements.

Re:Whom does this surprise? (3, Insightful)

BorgAssimilator (1167391) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420099)

Question: Whom does this surprise?
Answer: Lots of people.

It's the sad truth. I mean, when you think about it, these practices got put in place by people who thought it would be a good idea (for whatever reason). There are also lots of people who just buy in to the security theater of "Oh, they check my ID, so that must filter out the terrorists" that hadn't ever looked at the policies from this point of view.

Common sense isn't very common.

Re:Whom does this surprise? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420283)

Sometimes security theater will be set up to look for a specific kind of response.
Not saying this is the case here.

I was on a job once and we set up a tight security with a hole in it. You had to know what to look for to find it.
Hidden agents were watching the hole. When someone went through it, they got picked up and questioned.
There where 4 people that used it. 1 was a fluke, the three others were wanted.
It was never announced becasue they wanted people to be confident that security was morons. Plus, if someone was wanted, but gave good information we would let them go. None of this torture them, get crap information most of the time and lock them up crap. Honest, friendly and living up to your promises get a lot more accurate information then ANY torture technique.

This was in the end of the cold war.

Re:Whom does this surprise? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420355)

Apparently they are catching people stupid enough to attempt hijackings [bloomberg.com] . While no technology can be completely effective in blocking those willing to die for their cause, we have certainly cut down on the DB Cooper and asylum seeker types, haven't we?

Re:Whom does this surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420735)

Except your logic is flawed.

There would be reason to believe terrorists where getting on the planes IF PLANES WHERE BEING TERRORIZED.

The simple fact that plane hijacking has dropped to almost nothing means it's working. I've been alive long enough to remember hijackings being pretty much commonplace.

--Toll_Free

And what the fuck is this "you must wait a bit before using this resource"? All I'm trying to do is submit :) idiot.

The best we can do (5, Insightful)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420013)

I think the current state of airport security is just that - the best the agency can do, with it's current resources, budget and enormous demand for speedy throughput.

I myself have pondered the possibility of some kind of conspiracy, but all I'm seeing is an outdated, overwhelmed structure under a lot of pressure.

This is a very difficult problem to solve:
- fast processing of people
- spotting potential threats with minimum resources
- overstretched, tired, worn-out employees
- far from state-of-the-art equipment
- unbeliavable throughput

If the throughput is 1/100 of the LAX or JFK demands, then maybe it would be possible to look at each passanger, "check in" with them, evaluate their level of nervousness, clothing, carefully check for tell-signs etc.

With 1 second per passenger that's impossible and the best an agency can do is issue blanket policies including racial/name-based profiling, travel patterns, databases of destinations etc. and hope for the best.

I truly believe that the security policies are not an adequate protection. I don't think that's by design, rather a limitation of the design.

No conspiracy theory here, just lots of frustration with what I perceive as needless delay and inconvenience, bordering with disrespect and abuse in some cases (large-scale profiling and temporary detention of people entering the US etc.).

Re:The best we can do (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420027)

In short, I think there's a lot of fear behind the policies, and not enough intelligently focused resources which ought to be a solution.

Being rude and abusive to passengers it not a necessary part of enforcing security.

Re:The best we can do (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420429)

Being rude and abusive to passengers it not a necessary part of enforcing security.

Man, you just gave me a great idea. TSA needs to hire the most irritating and rude people on the planet. The number of people flying would plummet. Ticket prices would drop. If you could put up with 3 minutes worth of crap from the TSA staff, you could fly to Vegas for $50 and stretch across the three empty seats next to you. Sweeet.

Re:The best we can do (4, Interesting)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420195)

I spent a lot of years in the military; threat assessment and defense was a part of my job.... The whole TSA inspection system is a joke. It is nothing but theater.

I could go on and on....

I used to fly with the Bomb.... A demonstration computer built into one of those medium sized toolbox cases. It had a bare board embedded computer, an LCD screen, a PLC, wires and cabling all over the place, the case was lined with a grounding plane, and it had bolts all over the case holding the guts in. It even had a remote control I built with 20 toggle switches and a bunch of LEDs. I hand carried this monster on dozens of flights and *never once* did anyone at TSA express any curiousity about this case.

Anyway, the Europeans do it much better than the TSA. Chase everyone out of the gate, set up the checkpoint, and screen and scan everyone as they board....

Re:The best we can do (2, Insightful)

SleepingWaterBear (1152169) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420651)

I think the current state of airport security is just that - the best the agency can do, with it's current resources, budget and enormous demand for speedy throughput.

I agree that actual proper security isn't viable given the resources available, but the current state of affairs is far from "the best the agency can do." Currently the security system wastes millions of dollars and costs travelers massive inconvenience and countless hours of time all to create the illusion of security. I agree that real security in the airport may be more or less impossible, but the best the TSA could do would be to get rid of all the completely ineffectual security and stop wasting millions in tax-payer dollars, and millions of hours of travelers' time.

As matters stand now, what the TSA is doing borders on fraud.

Re:The best we can do (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420723)

I think the current state of airport security is just that - the best the agency can do, with it's current resources, budget and enormous demand for speedy throughput.

Sure it's the best they can do. The point, though, is that the best they can do is COMPLETELY ineffective -- and yet they still spend $7B per year doing it. Why?

Suppose you had <insert incurable disease>, and I told you that for $10,000 per year, I would sell you a cure.

"Does it work?" you ask.

"No," I respond "but it's the best anyone can do."

Would you buy it? Or would you spend your $10K on something else that actually gives you value?

Re:The best we can do (5, Insightful)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420787)

This is total bullshit. You're making the common mistake of examining their current budget, their current results, and assuming that achieving more results would require either more money or less speed.

This is simply false. It is false because it overlooks a simple fact: the current use of the budget is horrendously inefficient. In other words, better results can be achieved without making things slower (and indeed, while making things faster) on the same budget.

Most of what the TSA does is useless. Eliminate that, and suddenly you have a bunch of free money sitting around and people going through security faster. Take that money and put it into things that are actually useful. Now you have faster, better security for the same amount of money.

Why doesn't this happen? Mainly because this better security would be a lot less visible. This makes moron travelers feel less safe (even though they are actually more safe) and opens bureaucrats up to blame in the event that someone gets through it. All rationality flies out the window in the ceaseless finger-pointing that follows any failure, and the vast majority of bureaucrats are far more concerned with protecting their own asses than protecting the country.

So what if he had terrorist propaganda? (4, Insightful)

Airw0lf (795770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420017)

I skimmed through the TFA and the author talks about how various items of terrorist propaganda didn't raise an eyelid:

The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, "That's a Hezbollah flag." She said, "Uh-huh."

Correct me if I am wrong, but all the TSA crew are meant to watch for is if you are bringing anything onto a plane that could then be used to bring it down or hijack it.

Propaganda on the other hand cannot possibly bring down a plane from the sky, and it is surely protected to some extent by freedom of speech.

Not true (1)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420053)

"Once you're through security, you rip up the fake boarding pass, and use the real boarding pass that has the name from the stolen credit card. Then you board the plane, because they're not checking your name against your ID at boarding.""

THis is completely false. Every flight ive been on in canada in the last 4 years has checked ID right when you board the plane. I suppose it could be different in amerika but that would strike me as kind of stupid, to not check right when you board.

Re:Not true (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420117)

The 20-30 times I've flown in the past several years, my ID has never been checked with my boarding pass. I'm sure of this because as soon as I'm through the xray machines, I put my wallet with my ID and all my other documentation except the boarding pass for that particular flight into my carry on bag. They don't check ID at the gate against your boarding pass in the U.S....unless, perhaps, you're flying International.

Re:Not true (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420227)

They used to check you ID both before you enter security and at the gate (and when checking in bags). A couple years back they dropped the gate check and now they only check it before the security line. They mark the boarding pass at security but it's not like a retarded five year couldn't copy that.

Re:Not true (1)

g0at (135364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420507)

Actually, it's the exact opposite in my experience flying domestically in Canada over the past few years: only the boarding pass is checked at the security line; the personal ID (driver's licence, etc.) is examined at the gate.

Re:Not true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420251)

The US airports checked ID at the gate for a few months after 9/11, but stopped soon afterwards. Now it would be clear sailing.

Re:Not true (4, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420505)

Every flight ive been on in canada in the last 4 years has checked ID right when you board the plane. I suppose it could be different in amerika but that would strike me as kind of stupid

Don't some of our TV programming and films make it over the border? After seeing those, are you surprised to see U.S. government and industry collaborating on something that's kind of stupid?

They check ID against your boarding pass at security. They don't (at least here in the U.S.) check either against the "no-fly" list, at least for domestic flights. (IIRC I did have to zip my passport over a reader on flights to Japan, and I'm presuming that it checked me against the list.)

You buy a ticket with a fake name, say "Omar K. Ravenhurst" [westnet.com] , and stolen a credit card number. The ticketing system finds no "Omar K. Ravenhurst" on the no-fly list, so lets the transaction through,

With a little PDF manipulation, you print out a boarding pass for "Omar K. Ravenhurst", and one for your real name, "John Smith".

You show the "John Smith" ID and boarding pass at security, then the "Omar K. Ravenhurst" boarding pass at the gate. You're allowed on the plane. and the party starts.

Or heck, you show the "Omar K. Ravenhurst" pass at security, and claim to have forgotten your ID. They let you through, just like they let through the author of TFA. You're allowed on the plane. Hilarity ensues.

Or you do what many 19-year-olds do every day and get a fake ID and match it up with your stolen card number. It's not like terrorists can't counterfeit ID cards, or get "genuine" ones from the DMV with fake birth certificates or by bribing an employee. (And "REAL ID" bullshit won't much change that.)

Or you do what many of the actual 9/11 terrorists did and use your actual goddamn ID, because the odds are damn good that you're not on the list anyway since this is your first suicide hijacking...

Theater to test theater? (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420065)

How does Schneier putting on theater test whether they can detect a real terrorist? This is like those experiments where the researchers set up shocks or some such for the monkeys, they provide bogus explanations for the monkeys' behavior that totally excludes the fact that there were researchers behind the scenes doing things, which the monkeys were aware of.

Shooting fish in a barrel? (1)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420131)

Possible tag: shootingfishinabarrel ?

Color (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420165)

Is he white? That might explain a lot..

Jeffery is missing something here... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420253)

No self-respecting Islamic Terrorist would call himself "Jeffery Goldberg". Oh, wait, now we are giving the terrorists ideas -- they're gonna start disguising themselves as Jews! (A tactic that has obviously worked so well in Israel.)

Re:Jeffery is missing something here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420581)

No self-respecting Islamic Terrorist would call himself "Jeffery Goldberg". Oh, wait, now we are giving the terrorists ideas -- they're gonna start disguising themselves as Jews! (A tactic that has obviously worked so well in Israel.)

You're not too far off from reality. The PLO has been heavily recruiting young and ignorant Western Jews through front organizations with names like Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Jews Not Zionists (seriously!). They bring the kids into PLO-controlled territory (thanks only to Israel's benevolence in allowing the Palestinians to operate there since the mid-'80s) and show them how the people there are poorer than Israelis (because Israel has a functioning economy and the PLO kills anyone who participates in it). They blame the wide difference in standard of living on the Jews and tell the Jewish kids that they are partly to blame because they are Jewish, and the only way they can make up for it is to support the PLO. When the kids don't know their history and they are exposed to only this propaganda over several weeks, it sinks in. The PLO then sends the kids back to the West and encourages them to speak up and spread the word that genocidal terrorists aren't really bad people and if they are, it's the Jews' fault so the Jew-haters are still the good guys. In their brainwashed vitriol, you can't tell them apart from an actual terrorist. I think it's only a matter of time before some of them are recruited for a "legitimate resistance" operation.

On the other hand, it's a good sign that the Palestinians are recruiting these young Jews as propaganda tools instead of beheading them the moment they can get their hands on them. It's a small step in the direction of coexistence.

I'm not sure they confiscate everything (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25420309)

My sister carried a penknife though security, in plain sight attached to the outside of her backpack. The security manager saw it and told the screener "I'm going to keep running this through until you see it." On the third try, the screener actually confiscated the knife. My mother also went through security with a penknife in her makeup case and nobody noticed. My mother had actually forgotten it was there; I suspect my sister was actually trying to be a smartass.

Judean Peoples Front (0, Offtopic)

Ifni (545998) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420319)

Obligatory Life of Brian:

BRIAN: Are you the Judean People's Front?

REG: Fuck off!

BRIAN: What?

REG: Judean People's Front. We're the People's Front of Judea! Judean People's Front. Cawk.

FRANCIS: Wankers.

Bruce says the obvious (3, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420357)

The first time I checked in online I thought how easy it would be to modify the boarding pass I was printing on my own printer. Duh. The experience taught me how to enter UNICODE in a postscript file (United encodes some data for passengers in UNICODE).

Much of the article talks about someone not getting things that are not illegal to fly with confiscated. He makes a big deal about carrying a flag. The screener looked at the flag. It wasn't confiscated. BIG DEAL. It isn't illegal to carry a flag on board. He wasn't arrested for ripping up paper in a bathroom. BIG DEAL. It isn't illegal to rip up paper in a bathroom. He wasn't stopped for wearing a teeshirt.

He starts out by saying he was doing things that terrorists wouldn't do, and then complains because he wasn't questioned about doing those things.

Then the "saline solution" hole. Yes, every time you create exemptions from rules you create loopholes for bad guys to get through. Thanks for advertising the saline solution loophole, I'll remember it. Do you think that the TSA screeners should be testing fluids for what they are? There are an awful lot of different things, and any false positive is going to be lept on as another example of TSA stupidity while some poor schmuck is detained for nothing.

So, a terrorist who isn't stupid steals a credit card and buys a ticket under someone else's name. He prints a fake boarding pass with his real name (?) to get past TSA. Then he uses the original pass to get on the plane. We're told that this hole can be closed by simply checking the names at the time someone gets on the plane.

Uhhh, hand raised here. Question? If a terrorist is smart enough to steal a credit card with someone else's name to buy the ticket, won't he be smart enough to get a FAKE DRIVER'S LICENSE WITH THE SAME NAME so he can get past your new, stricter policy? You haven't closed the triangle at all. You've just made everyone feel more secure when they aren't. That's the game you are complaining about.

Hey. Every security measure can be bypassed by someone intent enough on doing it. TSA didn't find some of the things this guy was carrying that he shouldn't have been. Gee. Humans aren't perfect. Combine that and the ability to bypass anything, of course you get the logical result that we might as well not do anything to stop people from taking whatever they want on board.

Re:Bruce says the obvious (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420957)

The deal with the saline is not that it is a loophole, it is that toothpaste isn't a whole lot more dangerous. Nor are mouthwash, shampoo, bottled water, grape soda (don't get it in your eyes!), etc.

A couple of gallons of gasoline would present serious issues on a plane, but wouldn't crash it. 10 ounces would be about enough for a terrist to burn themselves pretty good (or maybe a couple of other passengers), but it wouldn't be that big a deal.

Federalization = ++(Screener_Incompetency) (1)

laughingskeptic (1004414) | more than 5 years ago | (#25420977)

Security is bad and doomed to get worse. People who could be fired have been replaced by civil servants who can not be fired. The very idea that the goverment needed to take over airport security was sheer stupidity. We now pay 10x for airport security and have less.
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