From the real experts on security
On tonight's A-Channel news:
"It is easier to find suspicious people than it is to find supsicious liquids" - Isaac Yeffet, former Israeli Secret Service member, Director of Security of Operations for the Israeli foreign Ministry, former Head of Security for El Al.
In other words, instead of banning liquids and submitting passengers to personal searches and long lines, which are have dubious value from a security perspective, we should do the following:
"Current technology cannot possibly identify all kinds of explosives," he said. "You need to have a profile system. It will save the lives of passengers."
Yeffet envisions an El Al-style system in which passengers are asked a series of simple questions based on factors including their nationality and travel plans.
Highly trained security officials ask the questions -- Where are you traveling? Where have you been? Why did you buy a one-way ticket? -- and determine whether the passenger requires more extensive questioning or inspection of their luggage.
"Through simple questions, you can come to tell if there is something wrong with a passenger," he said. "Without profiling, I tell you, we will be sorry. They will come to attack us."
"Highly trained security officials" is quite different than what we currently have in the US and Canada - TSA and CATSA jobs at airports have few security professionals and a lot of low-paid grunts for luggage checking and asking you to remove your shoes.
The added beauty of this approach is that it works on drug dealers, money launderers, illegal immigrants and other criminals, as well as terrorists. And the innocent traveling public are subjected to the least intrusive, most effective means of security. Resources are able to concentrate on actual threats, instead of being bogged down looking at water bottles and worn out Nikes.
Considering the record El Al has with hijackings and airline bombings, we should heed this advice. I'm sure El Al is not banning water or iPods...
The downside of this approach is that there is no real "visible" signs of the security (which is what most airport security is - a PR stunt. Checking shoes and banning water is very poor from a security perspective, but is a visible way to show the public that you are doing something, to make them think they are secure, but to scare them at the same time) and thus no way to make us afraid.
After 5 long years, I think we can live with that.
Gwynne Dyer hits one out of the park:
"Maybe it was those explosive “liquid chemicals” they were planning to smuggle aboard the planes. After all, it’s only 160 years since nitroglycerin was invented. It’s a mere eleven years since Al Qaeda associate Ramzi Yousef plotted to blow up 12 airliners flying across the Pacific at the same time with nitro carried aboard in contact lens solution bottles. Who could have foreseen this? Quick! Bring in new security measures! They really aren’t that stupid. They have been checking liquids that people want to carry aboard flights at airport security checkpoints for years.
There would be no need for drastic new security measures even if the alleged British terrorist ring were still on the loose. This is all hype, designed to frighten the British and American publics into supporting the wars of their deeply unpopular governments (and the war of their Israeli ally as well). Or am I being too cynical? Maybe they’re just stupid. I really don’t know any more."
Bruce Schneier weighs in as well:
"The new airplane security measures focus on that plot, because authorities believe they have not captured everyone involved. It's reasonable to assume that a few lone plotters, knowing their compatriots are in jail and fearing their own arrest, would try to finish the job on their own. The authorities are not being public with the details -- much of the "explosive liquid" story doesn't hang together -- but the excessive security measures seem prudent.
But only temporarily. Banning box cutters since 9/11, or taking off our shoes since Richard Reid, has not made us any safer. And a long-term prohibition against liquid carry-ons won't make us safer, either. It's not just that there are ways around the rules, it's that focusing on tactics is a losing proposition."[emphasis mine]
"Security measures that require us to guess correctly don't work, because invariably we will guess wrong. It's not security, it's security theater: measures designed to make us feel safer but not actually safer."[emphasis mine]
And, best of all
"The goal of a terrorist is to cause terror. Last week's arrests demonstrate how real security doesn't focus on possible terrorist tactics, but on the terrorists themselves. It's a victory for intelligence and investigation, and a dramatic demonstration of how investments in these areas pay off.
And if you want to know what you can do to help? Don't be terrorized." [emphasis mine]
Amen, Bruce. Again, this is what the experts say. Remember that George Bush, Stephen Harper, Stockwell Day and the other members "101st Pants Wetting Brigade" are not security experts and have a vested interest in keeping you scared.
Don't buy it. Listen to the real experts.