Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Aviation Security Debate: Bruce Schneier V. Kip Hawley (Former TSA Boss)

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the rumble-in-the-terminal dept.

Privacy 291

Fluffeh writes "A nice summary at TechDirt brings word that Bruce Schneier has been debating Kip Hawley, former boss of the TSA, over at the Economist. Bruce has been providing facts, analysis and some amazing statistics throughout the debate, and it makes for very educational reading. Because of the format, the former TSA administrator is compelled to respond. Quoting: 'He wants us to trust that a 400-ml bottle of liquid is dangerous, but transferring it to four 100-ml bottles magically makes it safe. He wants us to trust that the butter knives given to first-class passengers are nevertheless too dangerous to be taken through a security checkpoint. He wants us to trust that there's a reason to confiscate a cupcake (Las Vegas), a 3-inch plastic toy gun (London Gatwick), a purse with an embroidered gun on it (Norfolk, VA), a T-shirt with a picture of a gun on it (London Heathrow) and a plastic lightsaber that's really a flashlight with a long cone on top (Dallas/Fort Worth).""

cancel ×

291 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

KEUGS!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529573)

i like to singa

about the moona
and the junea
and the springa

i like to singa

about a sky of bluea
or a piece of pooa

i lovea to i lovea to asrape!

Schneier (4, Interesting)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 2 years ago | (#39529735)

Schneier sent the Kipster off, wearing his arse like a hat.

Too bad that the "reality-based community" is attached to persuasive argument, reason and evidence. Those are now the desperate hopes of the powerless.

You see, they'll be doing whatever they want to you, anyways.

Here we go again... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529579)

First Poop. I feel poopie, so very very poopie.

Bruce is a Comedian ........ (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529651)

This is too funny ....

-1 Not Funny
+1 Sad

First Post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529675)

First Post!

On the other hand (4, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#39529695)

There's no limit to the amoung of thermite you can carry on, and no limit to the amount of calcium carbide.

Just to name two.

Re:On the other hand (3, Funny)

ae1294 (1547521) | about 2 years ago | (#39529731)

There's no limit to the amoung of thermite you can carry on, and no limit to the amount of calcium carbide.

Thermite makes a wonderful toothpaste...

Marvelously versatile (5, Informative)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#39529861)

Thermite makes a wonderful toothpaste...

Actually, by itself it's a powder mix. It's convenient to add a liquid binder to make a paste for easy application but it can also be pressed with any of several other binders into any number of solid forms. Plaques, for instance, to be awarded at a conference. Carry on 20 kg of award plaques and Security might ask to see them but they won't blink at you carrying them on. The rest is obvious to any sophomore engineering student.

And TSA knows about these [1], but since there's no practical way to screen for them they just hope that the Bad Guys are too stupid to bother with a sure-fire way to remove planes from the sky.

[1] And many, many others. Ask a sophomore engineering class to come up with methods and you can have hundreds. Fortunately, Bad Guys are never geeks.

Re:Marvelously versatile (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530129)

Fortunately, Bad Guys are never geeks.

Osama Bin Laden had a degree in Civil Engineering[1]. Al-Zawahiri is a surgeon[2]. The guy who tried to drive into Glasgow airport in a flaming Range Rover was a medical doctor. There are plenty of chemists and engineers who pop up all the time from inside the various Islamist terrorist groups.

[1] Reportedly
[2] Ditto

The lab called (5, Insightful)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#39530185)

Your sarcasmometer is overdue for calibration.

Re:The lab called (2)

sunwukong (412560) | about 2 years ago | (#39530369)

I belive that's the first sign that terrorists are winning.

Re:Marvelously versatile (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530649)

Engineers are overrepresented among terrorists [slate.com] . Perhaps you can convince one that he'll get 70 especially attractive virgins if he repairs your sarcasm meter and then achieves martyrdom.

Re:Marvelously versatile (4, Funny)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531039)

Osama Bin Laden had a degree in Civil Engineering[1]

Yeah, but the old joke goes:

Q: What is the difference between a civil and aeronautical engineer?

A: An aeronautical engineer builds weapons. A civil engineer builds targets.

Osama was the wrong type of engineer to be a terrorist!

Re:Marvelously versatile (5, Funny)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531125)

And Mohammed Atta, the leader of the World Trade Center attack team, had a degree in architecture. I've seen this factoid used to explain that the attack wasn't actually an act of terrorism; it was an act of artistic criticism. Atta was destroying what he and many others considered the ugliest blot on the New York City skyline.

Re:On the other hand (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529791)

I just think you should know, if it weren't for your douchebaggy sig, I would have modded up this post.

Re:On the other hand (-1, Offtopic)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#39530033)

I just think you should know, if it weren't for your douchebaggy sig, I would have modded up this post.

Ah the irony of who calls douchebagery and on what grounds... here, buddy, have an opportunity to mod this post down... make if offtopic to still stay true to the /. modding rules and sleep well tonight.

Re:On the other hand (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530909)

"The Terrorists" aren't even trying. There are so many things I can think of to wreak havoc on an airplane flight, I can't even begin to count them. And why the obsession with airplanes, when travel is the least of the things that could be disrupted?

The only answer is that these people lack will, intelligence, or both. Because if they really wanted to, they could turn the USA upside down a different way every day of the year. Such is the leverage that any average citizen has over the forces of Nature these days.

We should be grateful, since very few of us in the so-called Land of the Free are really prepared to do what it takes to remain free as an everyday civil effort. You can see that by the simple fact that the TSA is little less than a Terrorists Surrogate Army - doing more to affect our freedoms than all the hijackers al-qaeda could manage to recruit.

Speaking of leverage.

This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (5, Insightful)

DCFusor (1763438) | about 2 years ago | (#39529711)

For congress, and they were, as usual, too spineless to tell the TSA to take a hike. After all, it's congress who spent all that money to line Chertoff's pockets (guess who makes the useless scanners now), and they didn't want to look bad for it - hearings are just photo-ops for the next election, to give the appearance of "doing something" when of course, the only thing going on is bribes and blackmail. Ever notice how DHS gets every excessive dime they ask for? Well, I know if I had warrantess wiretaps and all that kind of thing, the first thing I'd do is get the dirt on congress for future blackmail. This would occur to any bureaucrat in a few seconds. So you have to assume that's why these agencies never get seriously questioned about their ridiculous antics and waste, eh?

Re:This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529841)

They are creating fear in order to gain more power. People are willing to give-up their rights to any politician claiming to protect them.

Fear is the mindkiller.

Re:This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530561)

Congress is NOT SPINELESS!! And neither is the president..

They are corrupt. It's a big difference. But regardless of what they are, they are a perfect reflection of the voting public.

Re:This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (4, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530657)

I guess somebody took a play out of Hoover's book. It took the disgracing of Nixon to break that cycle of power grab and blackmail the last time around. If only people actually could get a clue from history...

Re:This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (4, Informative)

spasm (79260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531025)

No congresscritter or international equivalent wants to be Michael Dukakis and have her or his arse handed to them in the next election when a single Willie Horton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Horton) makes it onto a plane and does something Bad.

It's politically far safer to support any level of nonsense security theater and be able to say "I supported every effort to prevent this tragedy" after the inevitable next Bad Thing than stand up and actively support even the sanest reductions in security theater because the inevitable next Bad Thing will still happen and your political enemies will have no problem turning it into your fault.

For the non-Americans, Michael Dukakis was a governor of Massachusetts who stuck his neck out and supported a fairly common-sense program for giving prisoners coming up to the end of their sentence short periods of furlough as part of efforts to support reintegration into society. Willie Horton was a prisoner who absconded while on furlough and later raped someone. When Dukakis ran for President in 1988, Republicans ran attack ads against Dukakis featuring Horton and his crimes as a consequence of Dukakis' 'soft on crime' approach.

Re:This is why TSA kicked him out of testifying (2)

DCFusor (1763438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531287)

You are correct in this - and it was part of Bruce's earlier arguments as well. It's CYA politics at its finest.

The Winner: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529719)

(from http://www.economist.com/debate/days/view/823)

Adam Barnes
March 30, 2012
Adam Barnes

Our debate has now ended and those supporting the motion—that changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good—have won handsomely. ...
Voters have roundly declared that the frustrations, the delays, the loss of liberty and the increase in fear that characterize their interactions with airport-security procedures vastly outweigh the good these procedures achieve. For some, indeed, the benefits are essentially non-existent: any sensible terrorist can find a work-around or choose a different point of attack, as Bruce Schneier explains. And so the widely expressed hope is that changes made to security in the (near) future will make the whole regime less reactive, more rational, more flexible and more intelligence-driven. The results of this debate suggest that these changes should be made with some urgency: passengers are angry.

Leave the TSA alone! (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39529741)

They're in the business of making passengers feel safe. Passengers like that. They'll gladly suffer through free prostate exams if it means they can sit comfortably on the flight, believing they won't be one of the next set of 9/11 martyrs.

And it's a popular product: Look at how many people fly. If people didn't like the product, they wouldn't buy it. So whenever someone says "Ah! They're taking away their civil liberties!" ... Well, yes, but that's no worse than you forcing your own beliefs on them that they shouldn't be able to buy free prostate exams.

At the end of the day, you can only be responsible for your own behavior: These people aren't being forced to board a plane at gunpoint. They wllingly accept what the TSA is doing, regardless of whether or not it is necessary.

If you want the situation to change: Don't fly. Let the airplanes rust in their hangars. Let the corporations go bankrupt one by one. The TSA is only allowed to live by the patronage of the passengers. No passengers = No TSA.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1, Redundant)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39529769)

P.S. Yes, I used 'prostate exam' and 'sit comfortably' in the same sentence. The irony is not lost on me.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (0)

Skapare (16644) | about 2 years ago | (#39529801)

In the beginning, there was nothing. Then it exploded.

I like your signature. But ... you do have it backwards.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530219)

--- Hasn't flown since 9/11 - never intend to again. I also never intend to go to Disney as long as they use fingerprint scanners at the entrances.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (5, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39529797)

Of course, that assumes the TSA will remain restricted to airplanes...

Too Late... well, maybe. (4, Insightful)

dfenstrate (202098) | about 2 years ago | (#39530309)

Of course, that assumes the TSA will remain restricted to airplanes...

I present to you the TSA VIPR [wikipedia.org] program.

Note how it consists of some Mall Ninja acronym/name, like the murderous "Fast and the Furious" program put on by the justice department and ATF clowns.

The reason I suggest it might not be too late is because they pissed off Amtrak by molesting train passengers (leaving the train, no less), and were banned from Amtrak property for a while (still?).

So, at least a government-sponsored entity is willing to tell these jack-booted thugs to go pound sand.

Re:Too Late... well, maybe. (4, Informative)

sunwukong (412560) | about 2 years ago | (#39530463)

China, which has a far superior train system, has airport like security at its stations.

For some reason, though, I've found the Chinese security even at airports to be much more reasonable and even helpful compared to the NA variety, e.g.

guard: What's in your pocket?
Me: My hat.
guard (double take): But what's THAT?
Me: A banana.
guard: (laughs and waves me through)

Mind you, it's funnier in Mandarin.

Re:Too Late... well, maybe. (0)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530697)

China, which has a far superior train system, has airport like security at its stations.

When did this start? I took a few Chinese trains about 12 years ago and there wasn't any security at all.

Re:Too Late... well, maybe. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39531051)

And I flew on an airplane 12 years ago and there was only token security. One would assume the answer to your question is-- Some time in the last twelve years.

Re:Too Late... well, maybe. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39531299)

For some reason, though, I've found the Chinese security even at airports to be much more reasonable

Chinese Security is far less invasive. I was flying from Beijing to DC last summer and I was TOLD to keep on my belt, sunglasses (which had metal frames), ring, watch, shoes, etc. When the metal detector went off, security simply scanned me with one of the metal detector wands and I was all clear.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529815)

"Willingly" is a pretty tough argument to make.

If I have to fly to a wedding or for business, I have no choice. Many destinations are reachable by air only, or would involve something like a 48 hour round trip drive.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | about 2 years ago | (#39530137)

"Willingly" is a pretty tough argument to make.

If I have to fly to a wedding or for business, I have no choice. Many destinations are reachable by air only, or would involve something like a 48 hour round trip drive.

Pfff...only 48 hours? It would take me at least twice that just to reach Seattle. Anything south or east of there is even more time. Not that I'm bitter about it or anything...

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (5, Interesting)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530773)

Would you rather drive for 48 hours or be raped? I prefer to only have my knob polished by attractive females, and I prefer not to have my anus or ass crack or even my scalp explored by curious, impatient, eager fingers. I honestly don't understand people who are willing to be sexually violated in order to avoid losing a few hundred dollars or being seriously inconvenienced.

It brings to mind that joke about Winston Churchill and a socialite:

"Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?"
"My goodness, Mr. Churchill... Well, I suppose I would."
"Would you sleep with me for five pounds?"
"Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!"
"Madam, we've already established that. Now we are just haggling about the price."

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (3, Funny)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530911)

I prefer not to have my anus or ass crack or even my scalp explored by curious, impatient, eager fingers. I honestly don't understand people who are willing to be sexually violated in order to avoid losing a few hundred dollars or being seriously inconvenienced.

You apparently misunderstand the situation...

You have paid for that "agent" to fondle you. Enjoy it. And try to moan loudly, it makes them feel like they've done a good job.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529863)

Get out of your armchair every once in a while.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529921)

They're in the business of making passengers feel safe.

They're in the business of soaking up the employees that the Postal Service used to hire. One shudders to think what the official unemployment numbers would be without them...

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529987)

We no longer visit the United States. Instead, we go to other parts of Canada or to Mexico or to Europe where, each year, we drop 2-3 K dollars for holidays. Grabbing my nutsack and/or pushing me into a microwave oven isn't exactly what I would call laying out the welcome mat. That's why we don't go to the US anymore. Oh well, lots of other places to see in the world.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39531143)

THIS!

I won't be traveling to the land of the free to eat pink slime burgers any time soon, secretly hoping the TSA gets stricter so I never have to consider going to the USA ever again.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (5, Insightful)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530743)

They'll gladly suffer through free prostate exams if it means they can sit comfortably on the flight, believing they won't be one of the next set of 9/11 martyrs.

No, we suffer through it because we want to be able to visit our families and not spend most of what little vacation time we have travelling.

Obviously if my dislike of TSA policies doesn't overcome my love of my family, there must not be a real issue to begin with. That's logic.

Well, yes, but that's no worse than you forcing your own beliefs on them that they shouldn't be able to buy free prostate exams.

You mean my belief that we could have airline flights -- the thing everyone actually wants -- without the prostate exams?

Oh, and on the subject of prostate exams: they aren't that far yet. But after making you take off your shoes after the Shoe Bomber, and making you get your crotch photographed after the Underpants Bomber... You just wait until the Butthole Bomber shows up. Then it'll be put-up or shut-up time.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (3, Interesting)

pla (258480) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530995)

Obviously if my dislike of TSA policies doesn't overcome my love of my family, there must not be a real issue to begin with. That's logic.

Actually, yes. I agree with you completely in spirit, but as long as enough of us keep putting up with it by flying rather than either driving or skipping the trip, we have passively given our personal (and financial) standing ovation to the current security theatre system.

You want to make a difference? Make the process take as long as possible (if you really must fly). Insist on a pat-down over the pornoscanner. Deliberately set the metal detectors off with harmless-but-embarassing (for the agents) personal items... Like nipple rings. Make sure that you can take a later flight and it won't make much difference - And let the government molesters know as much. Bring a variety of items with you (of no real personal value and that technically pass TSA rules) that will confuse the hell out of them as to whether or not you can take them through security (hint - TSA agents know nothing about electronics - Try taking an old video card in your carry-on and watch them twitch).

The problem there, it annoys all the sheep who just want to get hurry up and get groped so they can visit Grandma. If enough people actually cared enough to act, instead of bitch, just 10% of us holding up the screening process could bring commercial aviation in the US to a screeching halt. Instead, the very, very few of us who do care simply get pulled to the side to enjoy the accusatory glares of our fellow travelers.

Baaaa!

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (2)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531073)

i did this once by accident; i had a playstation 2, some miscellaneous electronics and a gallon bottle of liquid soap bundled together in my soft-sided carry-on. it was very old, so the zipper was sticky.

when i picked up my suitcase, i found that it had been razored open, with clothes drooping out of the sides which had been loosely taped back together with official TSA tape.

it's funny in retrospect.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531079)

sorry, tired; i meant checked baggage, not carry-on.

VIPR Teams (1)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530945)

You have not seen VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response) teams in your local subway station. I have. The TSA and Department of Homeland Security are about to metastasize throughout the country in every form of transportation, including your private car. Yes, they're planning to do random traffic stops.

You know, when I was a kid during the Cold War one of the reasons we were the good guys and the Russians weren't was because here you could travel whereever you wanted throughout the land without once being asked, "Show me your papers, Comrade."

There are a lot of Americans who remember those times, too. Many of them are heavily armed. The TSA and Department of Homeland Security had better consider very carefully that they are on the brink of provoking an armed citizen response to their overreach.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (3, Insightful)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531005)

They're in the business of making passengers feel safe. Passengers like that.

Did you RTFA? 87% of the readers agreed to the motion, which was "This house believes that changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good". That's not geeks, that's you average Americans.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1)

aenigmainc (739876) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531041)

"it means they can sit comfortably on the flight" ??? you must not fly much. i suffer through security, then get an uncomfortable seat on a flight. unless i get an upgrade, then i get a slightly less comfortable seat, and free drinks. And it not so much that people like me WANT to fly, its part of the job. i have to be in California for a Monday start, so i fly on Sunday. then i fly home friday night spend saturday with the family, then off to Dallas. So my options are fly and earn a paycheck, or don't fly and try and find a different job. A lot ot us are modifying our behavior by using Webex and the like for conferencing, but in the end sometimes the customer wants a warm body on site, and i'm that warm body.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (1)

superdave80 (1226592) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531271)

And it's a popular product: Look at how many people fly.

Um, no we do NOT like the product that the TSA provides (security/screening). But the TSA has a monopoly on airport security, which is required to fly. Trust me, if you could chose between a TSA airport and a non-TSA airport, people would be flocking to the non-TSA airport. And I suspect a lot of people would choose non-screening airports if they knew they could just show up to their flight and walk to the gate with no wait.

Re:Leave the TSA alone! (2)

spasm (79260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531319)

It's a popular product because there's few reasonable alternatives for anything other than the shortest trips. I live in Los Angeles; my family lives in Australia. It's a bloody long swim. If air travel to Australia involved a two hour exam and a strip search I'd still grit my teeth and do it every couple of years because the alternative would be to never see my family again.

More pragmatically for most Americans, like many many people I travel between California and various east coast cities on a regular basis for work. My choice is to spend several days driving or sitting on a train vs maybe 7 hours tops flying including all the security theater at the beginning of the flight. It's both more expensive and more time consuming to avoid the security theater, so I fly. (Doing a bit of rummaging on the web, Amtrak rail Los Angeles New York goes for $266 at best and takes 60 hours sitting in a standard seat (a sleeper costs $813). Driving goes for an estimated $280 in my recent model Ford and 50 hours of nonstop driving time (plus the cost of either accommodation or amphetamines..). Random airline goes for $155 per kayak.com and takes 5 hours.). So while I always opt out of the scanners (I do biomedical research - I'm willing to be a guinea pig for something that might improve the health of my fellow humans, but I'm not willing to be a guinea pig for the health impacts of a jammed scanner which provides no benefit whatsoever for my fellow humans), again, I'm basically willing to subject myself to whatever nonsense security game they're playing this week because it hasn't come close to crossing the time/price point of other forms of travel for anything where air travel was competitive in the first place.

we can't AFFORD the TSA (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39529785)

It's clearly ineffective, but never mind that: we don't have the money for it. In case we haven't noticed, we're spending 1 point some odd TRILLION more every year than we take in.

Unfortunately, like most large bureaucracies, the TSA is self sustaining. It work hard to justify itself, despite never having caught a single terrorist in its entire existence. Replicate that to hundreds of other useless federal agencies, and you have a government that far overstepped the bounds of what it's supposed to be for, and now exists to give jobs to the phone sanitizers (RIP, DA) of our country.

Yet Americans will cheerfully keep voting for Republicrats, no matter what they do, so I guess the TSA is what we deserve. You get the government you deserve, they always say.

Re:we can't AFFORD the TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530271)

Unfortunately, like most large bureaucracies, the TSA is self sustaining.

Worse. They're unionized [afge.org] now.

They're not going away anytime soon.

Re:we can't AFFORD the TSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530881)

It's clearly ineffective, but never mind that: we don't have the money for it. In case we haven't noticed, we're spending 1 point some odd TRILLION more every year than we take in.

Unfortunately, like most large bureaucracies, the TSA is self sustaining. It work hard to justify itself, despite never having caught a single terrorist in its entire existence. Replicate that to hundreds of other useless federal agencies, and you have a government that far overstepped the bounds of what it's supposed to be for, and now exists to give jobs to the phone sanitizers (RIP, DA) of our country.

Yet Americans will cheerfully keep voting for Republicrats, no matter what they do, so I guess the TSA is what we deserve. You get the government you deserve, they always say.

We've got the best democracy money can buy ;-)

Re:we can't AFFORD the TSA (1)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531273)

We've got the best democracy money can buy ;-)

That's a good old joke, but unfortunately, it hasn't been true for some time now. By any measure of how "good" a democratic government is, there are many other countries that score higher on the metric than does the US these days.

The was a recent huge drop in the "quality" of democracy in the US when the Supreme Court legalized unlimited, and largely undocumented campaign spending by corporations a few years back. Before that, we saw the the head of one of the main manufacturers of electronic voting equipment tell the voters in one state (Ohio) that he would deliver their state to the Republicans - and he delivered. And on and on.

If you're a mere citizen, without the wealth or connections to funnel millions of dollars to Congressional campaigns, your vote no longer counts for much at all. The available data says that in Congressional elections, the candidate with the largest campaign budget wins about 90% of the time in the House, and 80% of the time in the Senate. (This statistic was "revealed" yet again this afternoon in an NPR article.) You and I don't matter any more.

The TSA is just one of the very visible bits of evidence for how far the American democratic system has fallen. Yeah, maybe a large majority of passengers think the TSA is worthless. Do you really think this means that our "democratic" government will curtail or cancel its activities during our lifetime? Do you think you'll ever be permitted to vote on the TSA?

Re:we can't AFFORD the TSA (0)

FSWKU (551325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531275)

...Yet Americans will cheerfully keep voting for Republicrats, no matter what they do, so I guess the TSA is what we deserve. You get the government you deserve, they always say.

Because Obama and the Democrats have done SUCH a good job reigning in the TSA and other useless agencies...

I stopped flying. (5, Interesting)

OFnow (1098151) | about 2 years ago | (#39529835)

I cannot speak for others, but I have stopped flying. Period. Instead we drive where the distance is reasonable and simply don't go many places we once went. So the argument that 'people are flying anyway, the security theater must be ok' is weak as the number flying might be much higher. Not that airports have the capacity for more air travel anyway...

Re:I stopped flying. (0)

evil_aaronm (671521) | about 2 years ago | (#39529899)

Ditto. I used to fly at least twice a week. Haven't flown in a couple of years, now. Fuck 'em...

Re:I stopped flying. (-1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#39530261)

someday you'll get employed again.

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39531069)

Some day you'll stop being a pretentious twat.

Re:I stopped flying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530013)

Same here. I use to fly three times a year, but now I haven't flown in years.

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | about 2 years ago | (#39530045)

You know it. It's by rail or by car now for me. Has been fr the last 5 or 6 years now.

Re:I stopped flying. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530081)

I cannot speak for others, but I have stopped flying. Period. Instead we drive where the distance is reasonable
and simply don't go many places we once went. So the argument that 'people are flying anyway, the security theater must be ok' is
weak as the number flying might be much higher. Not that airports have the capacity for more
air travel anyway...

Actually, one of schneier's points is that this effect has caused some 500 deaths in road accidents per year. I have not read the book he cites as a source for this number...

Re:I stopped flying. (5, Insightful)

ATMAvatar (648864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530983)

Interestingly, that would mean that the TSA has indirectly caused more deaths since 9/11 than the terrorists caused during 9/11.

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

thogard (43403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531325)

How many deaths has it cause by helping spread such fun things like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)?

Re:I stopped flying. (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#39530321)

So have I, including being willing to spend about 5 days and a not-insignificant amount of money to travel from Ohio to California by rail. Which I consider to be a small price to pay for not having my rights trampled.

Especially because rail travel is rather fun if you do it right. Sleeper cars are basically moving hotel rooms, meals are included, and you can hide in your room or try chatting in the lounge depending on your willingness to get to know complete strangers. I've met some interesting people on trains, including a nun in a spiritual crisis, a guy who was a well-known campaign adviser in Texas, some ardent Tea Partiers, Boy Scouts heading back from hiking trips, etc. And you also get a real sense of how big the United States really is, and all the variety of landscapes in it - I was thinking of Woodie Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land" along much of the ride.

Of course, the TSA now is trying to get into the business of searching rail passengers and creating highway checkpoints so that those of us who don't want to be searched without probable cause can't avoid it. I don't mind seeing bomb-sniffing dogs in major rail stations, because that makes some sense. But what doesn't make sense is trying to take away any object that could be lethal - as George Carlin pointed out, you probably could beat a guy to death with the Sunday New York Times.

Re:I stopped flying. (4, Interesting)

shadowofwind (1209890) | about 2 years ago | (#39530497)

I frequently travel between California and Ohio also, but can't afford the time for a train.

I took a steel mock-up of a bomb on an airplane once, on the way to a data collection at Fort Irwin. TSA didn't even ask to open the bag. But they confiscated one of my drill bits on the return trip.

Re:I stopped flying. (4, Insightful)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530845)

I don't mind seeing bomb-sniffing dogs in major rail stations, because that makes some sense.

It makes sense only in that someone might try to bomb all those people concentrated together in the rail station, but no more sense than in any other place where there are a bunch of people standing around. Preventing bomb attacks on trains (or buses, or any other form of ground transport) by inspecting passengers makes no sense whatsoever. Things that travel on the ground don't need to be attacked from within by passengers. Someone who wants to bomb a train doesn't need to sneak a bomb onto it, they just need to walk up to the tracks when the train is coming and drop the bomb on the tracks. Or they can skip the bomb and derail the train by attacking the tracks with hand tools, etc. If they want to hijack a train to hold everyone hostage, they can force it to stop and board it. Same things apply to buses. Anyone can drive up in front of a bus and drop a bomb from a car, or run the bus off the road with a larger vehicle, or point a gun at the driver and force them to pull over, then board it, etc. Screening passengers makes zero sense in those situations.

For planes, at least it makes some sense. Planes are fast. It's not exactly trivial to catch up to them in mid-air to board or attack them. The pilots can't just pull over and stop anywhere, either. To hijack a plane without being on it when it takes off, you have to have a pretty impressive plane yourself. Hijacking a plane in mid-air from the outside doesn't make any sense anyway since, if you had the resources to do it in the first place, the only thing you'd need would be the passengers and, unless there were specific passengers you were after, you could just start your own airline, load up your own plane, then kidnap those people in mid-air. So, for planes, at least there's some security excuse for screening passengers like that. For ground transportation, it's just stupid.

Re:I stopped flying. (0)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531145)

As George Carlin pointed out, you probably could beat a guy to death with the Sunday New York Times.

What's a New York Times?

Re:I stopped flying. (0, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39530391)

I cannot speak for others, but I have stopped flying.

If it means I get an empty middle seat between me and that fat lady with the perfume, I sincerely thank you.

It is my fond hope that your decision not to fly is taken up by a wide majority of Americans.

Though I do find airport security to be a minor hassle, if it has discouraged you and others from turning airplanes into the Greyhound of the Air, then the TSA is worth every penny.

So the argument that 'people are flying anyway, the security theater must be ok' is weak as the number flying might be much higher.

You mean that without the "security theater there might be more people flying? What a horrible thought.

I'll have to make sure and thank the TSA employees next time I fly.

Re:I stopped flying. (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#39530475)

I cannot speak for others, but I have stopped flying.

If it means I get an empty middle seat between me and that fat lady with the perfume, I sincerely thank you.

It is my fond hope that your decision not to fly is taken up by a wide majority of Americans.

Be careful what you wish for...empty seats are only temporary... If demand decreases, airlines will cut back on scheduled flights (or plane size (or both)) to eliminate as many empty seats as possible.

Unlike a hotel that has a reason to keep occupancy below 100%, an airline is happiest when occupancy is at 100% (and the only way to get there is to sell 105% (or more) of the seats)

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530913)

If demand decreases, airlines will cut back on scheduled flights

You mean it will get quieter at night in the area within 25 miles of O'Hare?

It's starting to sound better and better.

Re:I stopped flying. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530485)

So you're antisocial to the point where you like having an entire 777 to yourself?

How is your mom's basement this time of year?

Re:I stopped flying. (2)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530865)

That's just silly. If there are less people flying, the airlines will just schedule less flights and close down routes, etc. It is unlikely to result in less people on the actual flights.

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530931)

That's just silly. If there are less people flying, the airlines will just schedule less flights and close down routes, etc.

Lowering the demand for jet fuel, bringing down gasoline prices, less congestion on the freeways to and from O'Hare, less jet noise.

And I forgot...what happens to prices when demand goes down?

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39531159)

It's unlikely prices will go down. With less flights, there are less economies of scale. Prices would probably rise.

Yes, they may fall in the short term temporarily, but the passengers that are left are going to be those who have to fly, and the airlines are going to have to pay vastly more per passenger to keep operating.

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

gamanimatron (1327245) | about 2 years ago | (#39530439)

We've taken this route as well. It's not worth the hassle (much less being treated like a criminal) and we've discovered that a lot of the country is really pretty to drive through. I do hope that someday this all gets fixed, but my vote's always been an outlier and I don't expect that to change. I'll charter a flight or drive, and since I can't afford a chartered flight I'm paying for gas and auto maintenance instead of airline tickets.

Re:I stopped flying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530583)

"I cannot speak for others, but I have stopped flying. Period"

I haven't been on a plane in almost ten years.

I also don't take the train, for the same reasons (if you think the TSA boys at the airports are going too far, wait until you come across an Amtrak employee that thinks he has the same job description (most do)).

Re:I stopped flying. (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531183)

I've taken Amtrak from West Palm Beach to Penn Station NY and back four times in the last six. At no point did any Amtrak employee see the need to even look at my luggage, let alone give me a prostate exam.

It may be that the TSA is able to fuck things up on the rails, I know they're trying, but at the moment, no, it's nothing like travelling by air.

Good to see my old boss in the news (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | about 2 years ago | (#39529857)

Kip was a decent boss at Skyway, too bad they didn't say 'No' to the jerks who bought out the company and ran it into the ground, while skimming money off the top, every stinking month.

One thing to consider (4, Interesting)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#39529977)

a T-shirt with a picture of a gun on it

TSA agents are probably on a level with mall cops. Or lower. Some analyst probably evaluated the possibility of taking over an airliner with a fake gun. One way to slip a fake gun onto an airplane would be to make a cardboard replica that could be folded flat. With a couple of photos of a real gun affixed to the sides, and a terrorist waving it and screaming and the flight crew could be fooled. So a regulation was created to prohibit photos of guns. Now, if you explained that to a logical person, they could easily distinguish between a t-shirt print and a full sized side view of a semi-auto. TSA agents aren't hired for their judgment, but for their ability to follow rules. Simple rules. So the rule 'no pictures of guns' will be interpreted literally. And this will cover everything, including an image of Elmer Fudd with his double barreled shotgun.

Re:One thing to consider (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530283)

You make a decent attempt at a sensible explanation. Unfortunately, you're wrong.

I know something about this incident. It was quite simple. The security guard was pissed off - he had been in an argument with his boss earlier - and was looking to take it out on someone. He picked a teenager with a T shirt which had a picture of 'Optimus Prime' on it, and told him to take it off, simply because it looked flashy to him. There was not even any concern about the fact that all 'Transformer' robots hold a gun initially. The issue about the gun was raised later because the family made a fuss, and they were looking for a retrospective excuse. Of course, at that stage, all the guards stuck together and ordered the family off...

The point here is that, in the West, we have appointed people to 'look after us' and 'tell us what to do' in every conceivable activity in life. And a large portion of the people who apply for these jobs are assertive bullies. You can see it everywhere - people telling us what to eat, how much we should exercise, what kind of sex is legal... And when they run out of sensible things to tell us, they just start to make it up...

Re:One thing to consider (3, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 2 years ago | (#39530447)

The point here is that, in the West, we have appointed people to 'look after us' and 'tell us what to do' in every conceivable activity in life.

Yet somehow, I manage to make it through every day with nobody but my wife telling me what to do.

If you think we're over-policed and over-regulated that's fine, but the notion that we've got someone "telling us what to do" in "every conceivable activity in life" is the kind of ridiculous hyperbole that would qualify you for a job as a right-wing AM radio host.

Can you say, "This government has taken away all our freedoms!" for me? And also, "They took our jobs!"?

Re:One thing to consider (1)

sunwukong (412560) | about 2 years ago | (#39530489)

You fool!

Now he's going to become a shock jock!

Re:One thing to consider (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530549)

is the kind of ridiculous hyperbole that would qualify you for a job as a right-wing AM radio host.

Only if he's interested in telling you what kind of sex is OK.

Re:One thing to consider (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530753)

Yet somehow, I manage to make it through every day with nobody but my wife telling me what to do.

is the kind of ridiculous hyperbole ...

The truth is, of course, somewhere in the middle. Everytime you stop your car at a stop sign, you are doing so because someone else told you to stop there, and that stop signs mean "stop". If you don't drive, you cross at marked crosswalks (are told to do so, even if you don't) and with the light (ditto).

You go through the checkout at the grocery store because someone told you you had to or else you'd be arrested for shoplifting (or simply can't get anything from the store). You clicked the "submit" button to post your comment because the person who programmed the webpage told you that you had to click the submit button to submit your comment.

There are thousands of pages of laws and rules and regulations telling us what we can and cannot do, whether we obey them or not. Don't blame them if they haven't covered "every conceivable activity in life". They're working as fast as they can to fill in the gaps. Their bosses told them to.

Re:One thing to consider (1)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530821)

You do realize that not everyone likes the taste of boot sole? Would you be willing to be penetrated anally in order to fly?

Re:One thing to consider (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530891)

Would you be willing to be penetrated anally in order to fly?

Are you coming on to me again? I don't want to have to another sexual harassment complaint against you, 0111 1110.

Re:One thing to consider (2)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530683)

A while back I was shopping in Trader Joe's and overhead a woman who was looking at the choices for hot dogs (of all things) exclaim 'So many choices, I wish that someone would tell me what to buy'. I can only make the assumption that she applies the very same logic to all the decisions that she has to make. It's a sad, sad world (or at least country) that we live in.

Re:One thing to consider (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530919)

The point here is that, in the West, we have appointed people to 'look after us' and 'tell us what to do' in every conceivable activity in life. And a large portion of the people who apply for these jobs are assertive bullies. You can see it everywhere - people telling us what to eat, how much we should exercise, what kind of sex is legal... And when they run out of sensible things to tell us, they just start to make it up...

Oh yeah, those people in the "east" are all easy going, right? Might want to check out some of the laws in Korea, Japan, China, India, Cambodia, Malaysia, etc... Of course the "middle-east" is even more easy going, right?

This is part of the human condition and why it's important to have democracies where you can get voted out of office (rather than have a civil war say like Syria). Of course many aren't doing their voting part in the "western" democracy very well (otherwize something as unpopular as the TSA would be eliminated long ago)...

The USA is on my no-fly list (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39530103)

(Not that that list was anything but a mental list, nevertheless)

I live in switzerland, and for the last three years I've traveled to america every year for a conference. This year I decided to go to a european conference instead, for the sole reason of TSA, Security Theater and having to essentially waive all my rights(!) just to be allowed to enter the country.

While I'm only one person, flying only once per year to america, I wonder how many others did the same.

Re:The USA is on my no-fly list (3, Insightful)

CrackedButter (646746) | about 2 years ago | (#39530199)

The USA has been on my no-fly list since I was disgusted by the government's lies over Iraq.

Re:The USA is on my no-fly list (3, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | about 2 years ago | (#39530257)

While I'm only one person, flying only once per year to america, I wonder how many others did the same.

Add me to the list. I used to rack up about 50,000 frequent flyer miles a year for conferences and business in general. In the last six years I've flown a total of twice, and if I have to do it again I'll drive or (maybe) take a train. SF is only a long day's drive from Phoenix anyway and I have family at about halfway.

With retirement coming up I may never fly again.

Re:The USA is on my no-fly list (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#39530445)

But if not for the TSA, you'd never retire? ;-)

Re:The USA is on my no-fly list (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530735)

I live in switzerland, and for the last three years I've traveled to america every year for a conference. This year I decided to go to a european conference instead, for the sole reason of TSA, Security Theater and having to essentially waive all my rights(!) just to be allowed to enter the country.

While I'm only one person, flying only once per year to america, I wonder how many others did the same.

Its been a few years but from what I've seen hoops to get a US visa in the first place seemed to cause more people to abandon their plans than security measures.

This was before body scanning and groping were placed on the TSA menu so I imagine things are worse now.

I hope nobody wants to go the US anymore cause its what we deserve for treating our guests like shit.

What's the defense against body cavity explosives? (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#39530533)

The TSA guy said that by preventing terrorists from using complicated liquid explosives, they have to move to more exotic explosives. Ignoring the very porous security perimeter of an airport (many tons of airline parts and supplies are trucked in every day, there's no way to inspect everything), what's going to keep a dedicated terrorist from using old fashioned C4 explosive hidden in an obvious body cavity. I've seen enough internet porn to know that with proper training and motivation, a quite sizeable chunk of explosives could be hidden within the body. With surgical help and no desire to stay alive for more than 12 hours, I suspect that even larger portions of explosives could be hidden within the body.

Re:What's the defense against body cavity explosiv (1)

OrigamiMarie (1501451) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531177)

. . . surgical help and no desire to stay alive for more than 12 hours . . .

There have been a number of stories about TSA getting very curious about fresh surgical scars.

Hmm... It's bad, but would it be worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39530537)

...if the TSA's security theater operations were stopped today, and instead turned back over to the contractors that did it before 9/11?

How much response or visibility would we have over things if Wackenhut (now known as G4S. The spinoff detentions company is GEO Group), Academi (fka Blackwater, Xe, et al) , and other "security" contractors were doing what the TSA does now? Wasn't the previous way of doing airport security before the TSA with the airports contracting the job out to private security companies pretty much discredited? It did seem like good fodder for the local investigative journalists to "probe" airport security regularly (e.g., get weapons past passenger security check points, etc), in my case it was Seattle TV stations and Sea-Tac International... along with the occasional story of extra searches going off the rails, etc.

And we want to go back to the old way?

Why don't we just acknowledge that airport security is security theater. Maybe the theater is necessary to some degree (keeping honest people honest). But maybe we also need to acknowledge all it has really done is move the previous point of disaster from planes to the security check-ins. And hasn't done anything about security risks at the ticketing area.

Re:Hmm... It's bad, but would it be worse... (2)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531107)

I have no problems with the government (the TSA) in this case running airport security.
What is needed is to undo all the post 9/11 "Security Theater" (liquid ban, body scanners, pat-downs, nail clipper bans, toy guns being confiscated etc) and go back to a sane level of security.

Bravo, Mr. Schneier. (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39531083)

He's doing a marvelous job of systematically shredding the bullshit that the TSA is trying to sell.

-jcr

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?