Monday, October 20, 2008

Airport security theater

Ezra Klein notes this interesting article by Jeffrey Goldberg on the rise of "airport security theater": the rituals we are forced to endure at airports that give the impression of greater security without providing much actual security. Ezra then makes the following excellent point:
Successive moments in the ceaseless march of airport security have been... oddly interpreted: The shoe bomber failed, but now we all remove our shoes. The liquid bombers were a joke, but now we can't carry toothpaste on a plane. In Goldberg's article, he says we've built a security state around yesterday's threats. That's true, but it almost gives us too much credit: Much of the security state is built around yesterday's failed threats. It's like hearing a robber deterred by your deadbolt and responding by replacing your door with six inches of heavily fortified, extremely expensive, steel. And our strange decisions create new vulnerabilities: The awkward and slow screening system means more travelers are gathered at security checkpoints. But the screening happens at the end of the checkpoint. Until then, travelers are utterly unexamined. A suicide bomber could walk into that line and murder hundreds, having much the same effect on national travel as if he'd downed a plane.


Eric Rubin said...

stop changing the subject - obama's gonna win!

Seth Masket said...

I guess I'll just add the words "...which is why Obama's gonna win" to every future post.

Eric Rubin said...