Totally comforting news about airport security

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protocoach
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby protocoach » Thu Aug 07, 2008 3:40 pm UTC

Everyone remembers this story about the TSA missing most of the fake bombs that testers tried to smuggle on, don't they? Since I read that, I've had basically zero faith in our airport screeners. Your best bet seems to be hoping that no one decides to blow up or hijack your plane, because if they try to, it's highly likely they're going to succeed.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Fossa » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:28 pm UTC

Airport security is largely a security blanket.

The sharpest knives in the world are made of ceramic materials which metal detectors can't pick up.

Heck, I'd bet money that a good percentage of the people that frequent the science subforum could make a derringer that no screening method could detect without much difficulty.

None of this is a knock at the TSA of course. They do try.

A year or so ago I was giving my father a set of wind chimes for the porch I'd helped him build as a Christmas present. To keep them from clunking around in our luggage my sister had the brilliant idea to wrap her cell phone charger around them, immobilizing them.

Hollow pipes wrapped in wire with a DC converter pressed up against it. You can guess how the TSA screener watching the xray machine reacted.

Bottom line? If someone is determined to kill you or conduct an act of terrorism they will likely succeed. We, of course, are determined enough to try to stop them and we succeed most of the time. However, very little of what goes in to actually keeping our airports (or any other point of interest) safe isn't visible the majority of the time.

If you can see a system you can see its weaknesses. The best systems, including the best systems we have, are invisible to everyone but the people keeping them in motion.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby space_raptor » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:44 pm UTC

I think for the most part people are worrying about a risk that is actually very low. We just get fear-mongered into buying it. Of course it's possible to sneak something onto an airplane. The reality is that 99.99999% of people have no reason to, and even if they did, they probably couldn't pull much off once they were up there. The shoe bomber failed. The liquid explosives plot was known about months in advance. Our world just isn't actually that scary.

People get all worried about airplanes, well, it would be dramatically easier to bomb a bus or a train or a mall or something, and you could easily kill as many or more people. It just doesn't make sense to worry about it that much.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Galen » Thu Aug 07, 2008 4:47 pm UTC

LE4dGOLEM wrote:Hands up people who want to get a boat across the Atlantic.


I actually tried this a few weeks ago. I wanted to go home from Europe without flying. Hah!

$1400USD minimum on the Queen Mary 2 for a six day voyage. Norwegian has a transatlantic ship too, which sails every few months and takes a minimum of 11 days. I didn't even bother getting a price quote.

I flew from Poland to Seattle via three flights for less than just the Atlantic portion of a non-airborne journey.

Trains are a viable option if you have enough notice.

The trains increase their prices as occupancy densifies. Had I purchased a month in advance it would have cost me ~$140USD to take a train across the US (and a few hundred Euro to take one across Europe). I didn't buy early and the fares jumped to over $360.

The point is, not-flying is not easy, convenient, nor cheap. So long as the mob flies, flying will be the most available method of travel. Hence, unless you're rich and have a luxurious amount of time, the cost and time factor will force you to fly.

If the mob starts taking trains and ships again, I'm in. I don't even like flying.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Torvaun » Thu Aug 07, 2008 5:14 pm UTC

Macbi wrote:I once noticed halfway through a flight that I had a pen-knife in my bag.

I've always wanted to give two teams £100 and see who can make the most effective wepon out of stuff that they can buy and assemble at an airport.

I'd really like to be part of something like that.

I'd also really like to not end up on a No Fly list for this and other things I've said.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Endless Mike » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:19 pm UTC

sparkyb wrote:
Endless Mike wrote:It's also worth noting that a LOT of the banned substances aren't even TSA or FAA's fault. It's simply them enforcing regulations that existed prior to 9/11.[citation needed]


Not true. Before 9/11 I used to always carry my multitool onto the plane. I wasn't sure that something with such a large knife would be allowed so I looked up the regulations and a knife with a blade up to 4 inches (just about what mine had) was allowed.

I don't really consider a knife a "substance."

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Teapot » Thu Aug 07, 2008 6:36 pm UTC

I think it's funny that there are so many stories on here of people getting various things through security by accident or whatever, and my friend set off the metal detector at Glasgow Airport with the key to the padlock on her suitcase :lol:

(It was her first time flying as well. :lol:)
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby kgirlfae » Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:13 am UTC

sparkyb wrote:
kgirlfae wrote:There is a little bit of loss of privacy when you go through security, because as I noted before, it is a voluntary thing to fly. If you have a job that makes you fly, you could go get a different job and not fly just as easily (in their minds).


I hope you already regret saying this because I'm sure you know how dumb this sounds. Yes there are trade-offs with every decision in life. If not flying were really an option, I know tons of people who would have picked it by now. But currently, as bad as it is, it is still not yet worse than the alternative (long, slow trips, not getting to visit family/friends/vacation, a less desirable job). That doesn't mean it doesn't suck. How do you encourage change in a product that you can't afford to boycott? So you think that airports and airlines should just continue to increase how much they inconvenience people as long as they can without getting people to stop flying? What about a company actually trying to improve customer service and public perception. That'd be nice for a change. Not flying shouldn't be my other option. What I want is the hassle-free airline which admits it is less safe (make me sign a waiver, I don't care) but has far less airport security to pass through and is much more convenient. I know that will never happen, government regulations and all, but it is truly what I want.


I have a family member who is so deathly terrified of flying that she did quit her job when they made it part of her job description to fly. Is it voluntary to fly? Yes. Your choice so far is to continue flying despite the inconvenience. Just because you feel right now that you have no choice, the fact of the matter is, you do have one. There are many, many people in this world (and in this country) who go their whole lives without flying. For some it is because of the fear of flying, but I personally wouldn't take a job that made me fly every week. Not because I'm afraid (I enjoy flying for vacations), but because I wouldn't want to go through the hassle week after week. You would have to at least quintuple what I'm getting paid now to take a job that involves flying even remotely regularly. You choose to live a lifestyle in which "not flying" is just not an option - but it IS an option whether or not you choose to see that.

So do I regret saying that it is voluntary because you simply decide to think that is idiotic? NO. Because it IS voluntary.

And I don't know what you're doing to piss off Airport Security, but every time I fly they are always courteous, and smiling to me. Maybe I just give off that "I have to deal with annoying customers all day long too" vibe and they respect that, but when you think about what THEY have to put up with on a daily basis, the fact that they still smile at me and wish me a good trip (every time) when I fly I think their customer service is right up there. It's not the individual TSA officer's fault that the regulations are severe. When your company enacts a silly policy that annoys your customers, it's not your fault they do it, and you have to make the best as well.

And there are ways to pay more to deal with the security hassle less:

http://www.flyclear.com/index.html

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:03 am UTC

Yes, technically you can choose to not ever fly, but for some people that would mean a huge hassle; changing jobs, relocating, etc. It's possible, but not always feasible.

Hell, technically you can live without a house too, but not many people choose to do so.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Fri Aug 08, 2008 5:19 am UTC

Endless Mike wrote:
ParanoidAndroid wrote:And here I was thinking this morning that airport security is going way overboard. Airport security now reserves the right to seize and search laptops, flash drives, iPods, and anything else capable of storing data, including books. They can search confidential business. They can hold these items indefinitely.

That's Customs, not TSA. It only applies to those entering from another country, not domestic flights.


Duly noted. Still an absurd violation of personal liberty. The government has no right to go through one's computer, books, etc. without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. They're not allowed to break into your home to check for drugs unless they have a strong reason to suspect you of drug possession. However, they're allowed to search your computer without any prior suspicion of wrongdoing. Our government has ignored habeus corpus, wiretapped phones, and is now emulating China with its respect to the personal liberty of those entering the country. It can even show up at your front door and say, "Hi. We're taking your house, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's ours now. Uh, here's some compensation money." What is this country coming to?

Is flying voluntary? Yes, and so is using the telephone, buying a house, and anything else that isn't done at gunpoint. That doesn't mean that I should be okay with the government screwing over my personal rights in any of these cases. I cite the Fourth Amendment. When the government is abusing its power, the answer isn't to just put up with it. When the government is wrong, go to the source and work to fix them problem. That starts with getting the public informed.
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I walked through a metal detector, forgetting that I had some change in one of my pockets. The alarm sounded and I said, "Whoops, I forgot that I had change in this pocket." The security guard snaps, "Oh, yeah. They make that out of metal now. Or haven't you heard?" Sheesh.

Also, several of my friends lost their thick plastic water bottle thingies even though they were completely empty. They were told that they could be used as bludgeons. Seriously, getting punched would be worse than being hit by one of those things. I can see the headline now, "Three teenagers hijack plane by incapacitating 40 people with water bottles". I'm still waiting for them to require muscular people and martial artists to be restrained so they can't go on crazed karate chopping sprees.

Yeah, I can sympathize with employees. I have to deal with rude, stupid customers and annoying regulations too. I'm not angry at flight attendants or the man sitting by the metal detector (most of the time). I'm pissed at the government and the people instituting stupid regulations.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:47 am UTC

ParanoidAndroid wrote:It can even show up at your front door and say, "Hi. We're taking your house, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's ours now. Uh, here's some compensation money." What is this country coming to?


...You mean eminent domain, which has been around for over 200 years?
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby MoonBuggy » Fri Aug 08, 2008 11:30 am UTC

ParanoidAndroid wrote:Also, several of my friends lost their thick plastic water bottle thingies even though they were completely empty. They were told that they could be used as bludgeons. Seriously, getting punched would be worse than being hit by one of those things. I can see the headline now, "Three teenagers hijack plane by incapacitating 40 people with water bottles". I'm still waiting for them to require muscular people and martial artists to be restrained so they can't go on crazed karate chopping sprees.

At risk of sounding like I have an extra 'GOTO 10' line, this just reminded me about the glass bottle thing. I'm sure a thick glass bottle filled with liquid would be an excellent bludgeon, until it broke, at which point it would become an effective bladed weapon.

Seriously, I know I'm probably getting annoying by going on about it, but it just seems that this simple omission negates so many of their other rules that someone must know the reason for it, yet I've never heard a satisfactory explanation.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Galen » Fri Aug 08, 2008 8:34 pm UTC

ParanoidAndroid wrote:
Endless Mike wrote:
ParanoidAndroid wrote:And here I was thinking this morning that airport security is going way overboard. Airport security now reserves the right to seize and search laptops, flash drives, iPods, and anything else capable of storing data, including books. They can search confidential business. They can hold these items indefinitely.

That's Customs, not TSA. It only applies to those entering from another country, not domestic flights.

Duly noted. Still an absurd violation of personal liberty. The government has no right to go through one's computer, books, etc. without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing. They're not allowed to break into your home to check for drugs unless they have a strong reason to suspect you of drug possession. However, they're allowed to search your computer without any prior suspicion of wrongdoing. Our government has ignored habeus corpus, wiretapped phones, and is now emulating China with its respect to the personal liberty of those entering the country.


I'm going to argue that if you tried to drive your house over the border, and they thought you were acting suspiciously, Customs would search your house without a warrant -- probably legally.

The thing is, I know people who have smuggled illegal substances (for personal use, not for sale) over the border. I myself have carried a computer and what's worse, French literature, across the border. They didn't search me or my friends, because we didn't seem suspicious. If you act suspiciously they question you or search you. If they feel you're a nice, sane person you could take a body across the border.

So, carry confidential files, marijuana and bodies over the border. Just be cool about it. Just be calm.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Mercurius » Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:39 pm UTC

While I dont think this particular case is much to worry about, it has to be said that airport security is, generally, crap.

I took a module in International Terrorism the year before last. My lecturer is fairly famous in counter-terrorism fields of study, and has advised the FBI and MI5 on counterterrorism policies. And one of the first things we talked about in his class was about the pointlessness of excessive security at airports. This was in the wake of the attempted liquid airplane bombings in the UK, details of which I still find somewhat suspicious.

Anyway, the point is, airports have limited resources, and when they place excessive emphasis on searching passengers and confiscating liquids etc, it takes off resources which would be used to patrol the airport, keep an eye out on suspicious packages, look out for possible biological weapons mules (someone who purposefully takes a dose of a lethal, infectious disease and spreads it at crowded public places) and so on and so forth. While no doubt terrorists will cause much more damage with an airplane, as we have noted, they can still do plenty of damage using other forms of public transport (trains, buses) or by attacking the crowds of people at the airport before they have passed through a security check. Just imagine the death toll of a suicide bomber detonating while in the line to the security checks at Heathrow or somewhere.

In short, the problem is placing an emphasis on active physical security measures, full stop. Terrorists will always find a weakness and exploit it. Some weaknesses are worse than others, and I understand certain bases have to be covered due to the potential for greater damage. However, without a sustained set of policies designed to infiltrate and de-radicalize terrorist groups, this emphasis on hard security is just so much bullshit and fail. A smart terrorist knows how to case a target and avoid the security measures in place, god, plenty enough manuals on how to do so have been seized in various terrorism raids. So decreasing the pool of potential terrorists is always a better option, in the long term. Unfortunately, its something that our governments seem quite incapable or unwilling to try.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby miron721 » Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:06 am UTC

I'm a little tempted to see what I can get across the border now. Although I won't, I don't like being searched 2,600 miles from home.
And if you ever actually get a show to see who can make the best weapon out of airport-legal things, I would definitely watch. And support. And other things that are positive but won't get me on a no-fly list.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby liquidspoon » Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:46 am UTC

I think you could hide a lot of stuff inside a laptop. What are the odds that a TSA screener could identify the components of a laptop from an X-Ray?

In my opinion serious terrorists would not even target airplanes at this time. If they were just trying to kill a lot of people, they could simply target the long lines at an airport before going through any security (with the added bonus of shutting down a whole airport for days). Similarly, trains, malls, and sports stadiums have virtually no security. The only reason to specifically target an airplane would be to fly it into a building, and that would not be successful with post 9/11 passengers.

However, the real goal for most terrorists is to disrupt our lifestyles and scare us. They have already made flying scary and obnoxious, so they should be looking for ways to mess with the 99.9% of our lives when we aren't in airports.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:18 am UTC

Nougatrocity wrote:
ParanoidAndroid wrote:It can even show up at your front door and say, "Hi. We're taking your house, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's ours now. Uh, here's some compensation money." What is this country coming to?


...You mean eminent domain, which has been around for over 200 years?


Wikipedia wrote:In the early years, unimproved land could be taken without compensation; this practice was accepted because land was so abundant that it could be cheaply replaced. When it came time to draft the United States Constitution, differing views on eminent domain were voiced. Thomas Jefferson favored eliminating all remnants of feudalism, and pushed for allodial ownership. James Madison, who wrote the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, had a more moderate view, and struck a compromise that sought to at least protect property rights somewhat by explicitly mandating compensation and using the term "public use" rather than "public purpose," "public interest," or "public benefit."


It's being used quite differently now than it was 200 years ago. Nowadays, "public benefit" can mean almost anything. I've read news reports about people who had their homes confiscated and demolished only to have the government table the development plans, leaving essentially an empty lot. Kelo v. City of New London, to name one case. Anyway, I would have been against it 200 years ago as well. "What is this country coming to?" wasn't intended to suggest that eminent domain was new, it was just me expressing frustration at our Big Government who is increasingly encroaching on personal liberty.

But anyway, this isn't really on topic, so I'm dropping the issue now.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby clintonius » Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:39 pm UTC

Mercurius wrote:Anyway, the point is, airports have limited resources, and when they place excessive emphasis on searching passengers and confiscating liquids etc, it takes off resources which would be used to patrol the airport, keep an eye out on suspicious packages, look out for possible biological weapons mules (someone who purposefully takes a dose of a lethal, infectious disease and spreads it at crowded public places) and so on and so forth.

I was under the impression that TSA, not the airport, funded all your favorite local Stop'n'Searchers. Sure, TSA has limited resources, but the government is also generally willing to expand those resources when doing so will give the illusion of safety. I'm not too worried about the notion that the resources (generally) wasted on those folks standing by the metal detectors could be shifted to better prevent crime elsewhere in the airport, because I imagine there are plenty of folks who already patrol, watch for suspicious bags, etc. You just don't see them. So I don't think the "money is wasted in program A, program B provides better security, therefore we're not as secure as we could be" argument is valid because it assumes that programs A and B aren't happening concurrently. What concerns me is the fact that the resources are being wasted, period. That's tax money going into these (generally) wasted programs, and dammit, I pay taxes. I'm basically paying to be inconvenienced. The same could be said for a number of other programs, but that's for a different thread.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Kesho » Mon Aug 11, 2008 12:13 pm UTC

I managed to get through airport security a few years ago, carrying a pair of bone spear points in my pocket and a pair of buffalo ribs in my suitcase, which I had picked up from an odd little gift shop in Arizona that sold various preserved animal parts (they had a shed next to the store where you could buy bones from large animals like bison and elk- there were at least ten fairy large buckets filled to the brim with antlers and ribs! :shock: ) And somehow, airport security didn't notice the little stabby-things in my pocket or find a pair of buffalo ribs at all suspicious?
What's even worse, was that two years later in a tiny airport in Northern Carolina - I only saw about forty people in the whole building- I was pulled away from my family for a "random search." So random, in fact, that only the black and middle-eastern families were being searched, along with one white kid with dreads (me). I can get away with a pair of stabbing implements, but I couldn't get away with a different hairstyle or ethnicity? Fuck you, airport security. :x

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Plasma Man » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:22 pm UTC

Every time a new security regulation is announced, I like to figure out how easy it would be to circumvent. All would be avoidable by anyone with similar resources to the shoe bomber / liquid explosives attackers that have already been foiled. Easiest one to get around would be the metal detectors - humans managed to kill things quite successfully with flint or obsidian (and obsidian blades are still used in some surgery because they are sharper than steel blades).

With the radioactive part, people who've had radioactive isotopes for therapy or scans (e.g. radioactive iodine-131 treatment for thyroid cancer or technetium-99m for bone scans) can set off the radiation detectors at airports, so at least we know the detectors work. Unfortunately, this is covered by sending the patient with a letter from the hospital to say that they have had the radioactivity administered for a medical purpose. This letter has to have a specific (fixed) wording on it, which acts as a password to the staff at the airport. Obviously, I'm not going to post it on the internet, but it can't be very hard to find out, nor would it be hard to get hold of some hospital document templates and produce your own version.

The only thing is, I'm not sure why you'd want to take radioactive stuff on an aeroplane for nefarious purposes. Trying to nuke a plane seems like ridiculous overkill, transporting it by plane needlessly risky. Radioactive isotopes? Might be good as a psychological attack ("Bwahahahaha, I have irradiated this flight") but wouldn't be that bad or dramatic. If you're smuggling them for a dirty bomb, again, there's better ways to do that.

Ultimately, the best way of taking out a plane is only four words long and doesn't need to go through security: Surface to air missile.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby OverBored » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:52 pm UTC

Macbi wrote:I've always wanted to give two teams £100 and see who can make the most effective wepon out of stuff that they can buy and assemble at an airport.


We need someone to send the idea to a tv channel. UK's channel 4 will do any reality tv, although the government may say something about airing it. I would be fun as hell though. Personally I'd make a few molotov cocktails (can you buy lighters once you are in there? I'm sure you could smuggle flint through) and maybe make a pea shooter out of newspaper, and shoot cufflinks at people.

Ultimately, a terrorist that wants to get something through, will. Hell, you could probably get a weapon into the inside of a rubiks cube. As people have already said, metals aren't the only sharp hard objects around. the whole security system is designed to detect them though.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Poochy » Tue Aug 12, 2008 3:28 am UTC

This actually reminds me of when MythBusters tested the myth of a prisoner making a deadly crossbow out of newspaper and elastic from underpants, with a plastic food tray for the bolt, and it actually came out plausible. (Along the way, they also saw a museum displaying a semi-automatic .32 caliber gun made from plumbing parts.)

Hopefully none of the higher-up Vogons at the TSA ever sees that episode, or we'll be disallowed from bringing newspaper on planes. Or wearing underwear.

I highly doubt anybody will make airport security MacGuyver-proof. Their time and money could probably be better spent on stuff that would help reactionary measures.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby EdgarJPublius » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:04 am UTC

OverBored wrote:metals aren't the only sharp hard objects around. the whole security system is designed to detect them though.

What part of the massive, multi-layered security center that is a modern airport suggests to you that the entirety of it's purpose is detecting metallic weapons?

Is it the X-ray machines? The Drug and Bomb sniffing dogs? The agents trained to look for signs of ill intent or clothing bulges that might correspond to hidden contraband? The Cameras watching for same?

Or is it that because you have to walk through a metal detector and that the TSA agents you personally interact with are underpaid and overworked?

75% of a good security set-up is ensuring that the real security is invisible, 24% making people under-estimate the security they can see and .001% is the metal detector you have to walk through (and really, 90% of that is making sure everybody who get's on a plane had to go through the most observed part of the entire facility and interact with other people and TSA agents for the guys on the other side of the cameras.)
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby OverBored » Tue Aug 12, 2008 1:36 pm UTC

you get dogs sniffing stuff?

I was more thinking about small sharp objects that aren't metal (ceramic, glass etc) that it wouldn't be hard to smuggle past. I know security is actually quite extensive but my point was that despite its size, it lets alot slip through. All of this machinery costs a lot of money, and as people have demonstrated, potentially dangerous objects get through. This means the metal detectors are essentially an expensive piece of equipment just for the peice of mind of the travellers, and are there as a deterrent.

Admittedly the way I wored it definitely meant the whole security system is to find metals, which is blatantly wrong. Ultimately though they can never stop people posing a danger. I mean couldn't you just get enough people on the plane and overpower physically without weapons?

And then you could always smuggle poisonous snakes on!! :shock:
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Galen
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Galen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:02 pm UTC

Anyone find it interesting that even though all sorts of potential weapons get past security and can be bought in Duty Free, no one's killing anyone on airplanes?

Though I don't anticipate hearing about another attack, I find it likely that if an attack were to occur, it would be with weapons the TSA, etc, didn't even consider. For example, they only banned liquids once they detected plans to attack with liquid explosives. Someone's going to walk in with an EMP cannon and TSA's going to say, "We didn't realize an EMP cannon could pose a security risk to an airplane. We're conducting an internal investigation into the circumstances surrounding this sad event and someone about to retire will be "fired" with full pension so the public continues to trust us with their lives and privacy." [/derision]
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Josephine » Mon Mar 12, 2012 1:32 am UTC

Bumping a random General thread to mess with Felstaff's aesthetic sense.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Proginoskes » Mon Mar 12, 2012 3:32 am UTC

And what about guys with big hands? They could throttle a pilot fairly easily, and they wouldn't need any nosepicks.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby pizzazz » Fri Mar 16, 2012 8:25 pm UTC

MoonBuggy wrote:
Nebuduck wrote:You'll never be able to pre-emptively catch some nut who wakes up one morning and thinks "I know what I'll do today! I'll shoot a load of people on a plane." That's what the metal detectors are for.

Even with this argument, the fact they let you on with glass really really bugs me*. OK, it's not nearly as bad as a gun, but it's still pretty unpleasant if you want it to be, and much easier to find on a spur of the moment impulse.


*Not because I'm actually scared of being attacked by someone with a broken bottle on a plane, but because it calls into question the other aspects of the security process.


You know what's almost as sharp as shattered glass shards? Twisted aluminum soda cans. You know, the kind available at every other food vendor in the terminal and even on the plane for some airlines.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Proginoskes » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:43 am UTC

Q: How many religious fanatics will get by this TSA agent?

A: Nun.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Soralin » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:18 am UTC

kgirlfae wrote:I had a friend a few years back who worked for TSA. As she put it, "If you don't like the restrictions, it is voluntary to fly, and you can just deal with it"

"If you're afraid of terrorism, it is voluntary to fly, and you can just deal with it"

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby mercutio_stencil » Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:01 pm UTC

I've said before that the illusion of security can actually be a more effective tool for keeping people safe than actual security practices. While it is impossible to actually catch and confiscate everyone with a possibly dangerous item (although the TSA does catch close to a half dozen undeclared guns in carry-on a day), the idea that a potential terrorist might get caught can be disincentive enough.

And while the "Stuff I smuggled passed airport security" thread is fun, much better is the "Stuff I had confiscated by airport security"

I have a family tradition of stealing airline silverware (I have an odd family), but since most airlines switched to plastic, I had been unable to indulge. Luckily I had an international flight with real silverware, so I pocketed it. I had a domestic transfer though, and had to go through security again. The security screener looked at the silverware in the little bowl and asked, "what is that?" I had the feeling that I was going to get in trouble for stealing from the airline, but then she picked up the knife and said ,"You can't have a knife." I let her keep the butter knife, kept the spoon and very pointy fork and went on my way.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Carnildo » Sun Mar 18, 2012 5:25 am UTC

mercutio_stencil wrote:And while the "Stuff I smuggled passed airport security" thread is fun, much better is the "Stuff I had confiscated by airport security"

Last time I flew on an airline, I was permitted to take a half-dozen deadly weapons through security, but my first-aid kit had to go in my checked luggage.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Ralith The Third » Mon Mar 19, 2012 12:55 am UTC

Airport security is pretty much designed for the "We have a plan. Carry on." effect - any serious plot to take over a plane will be caught by moles, etc.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Randomizer » Mon Mar 19, 2012 1:38 pm UTC

I thought airline security was there to teach people to submit to authority? It's not really about reassuring the public.

Would you take off your jacket if some random dude in the street told you to? If a police officer told you to? Why do it because some guy at an airport tells you to?

Because you're trying to go somewhere, you don't have time to argue, you just want to catch your flight, so you put up with it. If a grocery store manager required pat downs to shop at his market, you'd find a different store to buy food at and register a complaint. But what would you do if all shops required this? You can't live without food, would you submit to pat downs? Starve? Grow your own? Physically overpower security in order to do your shopping unmolested?

When the police pat down people without due cause they can get into trouble. That's why they have Touching Sexy Americans agents do it, because they are not subject to the same regulations and training which police officers are. What would happen if police did airport security instead of TSA agents, using the same methods that TSA agents use? Or, how would they react if we started calling TSA agents "police officer"?

Flying is a major form of travel. Why should anyone be subject to warrantless searches because they want to go from one place to another quickly? Is it acceptable to subject people to warrantless wiretaps because they use the telephone to communicate instead of physically walking over to where the other person is? Should I have to give up my telephone if I don't like being spied on? It's as much of a luxury and convenience as air travel is.

We aren't protected by "security", anyone who wants to kill someone, or even a large number of people, is perfectly capable of doing so. What protects us is that, generally, people are disinclined to kill other people. Rape is not uncommon, but murder, despite the fact that any idiot can buy a bottle of rat poison at the supermarket or a gun at KMart or a big 'ol knife somewhere, is relatively infrequent (aside from the occasional war or genocide).

Hell, I've rode Greyhound before and saw that a guy was bringing a big ol' knife with him on my bus (I forget if it was in his bag or strapped on the side, it was a while ago). I'd rather that than having idiots go through my baggage. Unfortunately the TSA has expanded beyond airports these days, though I don't know whether they do the picture an' grope bit elsewhere yet.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby roband » Wed Mar 21, 2012 10:22 am UTC

edit: I posted in the wrong thread, AGAIN

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Joren » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:02 pm UTC

Multipe times I set of the metal detector, and it always seem to be my shoes, and I can just continou to walk on. I never ever had to take my shoes off. Coud've easely placed a knife in the bottom of my foot.

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby hurtlocker99 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 6:04 pm UTC

Try getting a bazooka across the metal detectors without incident. That's when you know security is non-existent :D

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Randomizer » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:51 am UTC

I think a bazooka would be over the size limit. There's no way you could get that through.

In checked baggage, maybe. But then you'd have to pay an oversize fee.
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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby Soralin » Sun Mar 25, 2012 5:38 am UTC

hurtlocker99 wrote:Try getting a bazooka across the metal detectors without incident. That's when you know security is non-existent :D

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digeridoo

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Re: Totally comforting news about airport security

Postby HTML Mencken » Sun Mar 25, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

Sir_Elderberry wrote:Airport security, I've always thought, is there mostly for the public's peace of mind. I know that sounds conspiracy theorists (zomg it's to keep you complacent) but honestly, it seems like it wouldn't be too hard to circumvent, but they can't be seen doing nothing.


There is something to this.

I know when I was doing terrorism studies at University, one of my professors (who, among other things, was an FBI consultant) complained quite bitterly about the excessive airport security and it's general lack of effectiveness. His point that was terrorism incidents are generally quite rare in the first place, and that killing people is not that difficult, all things considered. While airplanes are obviously tempting targets for two reasons - namely that when they are in the air, you can effectively hold everyone hostage, and for suicide attacks - the most important post-9/11 innovations were fortified cockpits, and the awareness of passengers that the aircraft may be used for a suicide attack, and so being willing to resist a hijacking attempt. As such, airplanes would be much less tempting targets, and attacks on them would be less successful. Given the Al-Qaeda in Yemen attacks over the past two years, it does seem to be the case that passenger awareness and intelligence work were what thwarted their plots, and not the extensive security measures that have been put into place. Of course, it is hard to tell how many attacks have been deterred by the focus on airport security, but I have a suspicion that such plots were not so much deterred as transferred to softer targets, and so it made little difference in the grand scheme of things anyway.

Obviously, some security procedures have a certain amount of utility. Scanning for metal, sniffer dogs, background investigation etc. But there is a payoff between security and efficiency, and once you go past a certain threshold, you get decreasing security returns, while increasing delays and costly checking procedures. Also worth noting is that there are often large groups of tightly packed people near airport security checkpoints, which are a potentially tempting target to terrorists as well. A suicide bomber in the middle of such a group could kill scores of people quite easily, and that is a security consideration which seems to have been neglected, at least at the airports I have been to recently.

It's also worth noting that many of these procedures are not strictly adhered to outside of Europe and North America anyway. While some countries have quite extensive security measures, others do not, and often have poorly paid security staff who are quite open to bribes. Connections to influential government personnel or businesses can also be of use. I have a student who bypasses Customs checks entirely when returning home due to the latter reason. A flight originating from one of these parts of the world could be used to carry out an attack on another one.

It's a fortunate thing that, as a rule, terrorists and hijackers are rare.


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