Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Transportation Security Your Rights Online

Aviation Security Debate: Bruce Schneier V. Kip Hawley (Former TSA Boss) 291

Posted by Soulskill
from the rumble-in-the-terminal dept.
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).""
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • On the other hand (Score:5, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:42PM (#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.

    • by ae1294 (1547521) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:45PM (#39529731) Journal

      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...

      • by overshoot (39700) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:58PM (#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.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:20PM (#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 (Score:5, Insightful)

            by overshoot (39700) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:26PM (#39530185)
            Your sarcasmometer is overdue for calibration.
          • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:15PM (#39530649) Journal
            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.
            • by ozmanjusri (601766) <(moc.liamtoh) (ta) (bob_eissua)> on Friday March 30, 2012 @11:50PM (#39532095) Journal

              Perhaps you can convince one that he'll get 70 especially attractive virgins if he repairs your sarcasm meter

              Virgins on Slashdot? How likely is that?

              Nope, still not working.

              • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @03:32AM (#39532777) Homepage

                Who said the virgins had to be female?

                • by ewanm89 (1052822)
                  I'll just quote a great comedian:

                  Jeff Dunham: [Walter is complaining about suicide bombers] You know, Walter, those guys actually believe that if they martyred themselves like that, there'll be 72 virgins waiting for 'em in paradise.
                  Walter: Well, April Fool, dumb-ass! If there are virgins waiting for you, there'll be 72 guys just like you! "Oh, no, this is not what Osama said it would be!" Seventy-two virgins? Why not 72 slutty broads who know what the hell they're doing?

          • by superdave80 (1226592) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:15PM (#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!

          • by jc42 (318812) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:31PM (#39531125) Homepage Journal
            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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:53PM (#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.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:07AM (#39532517)
        If I were a terrorist, I'd set a bomb off in security (one of the large, dense open ones, like Denver). Then, one week later, set off a bomb at crowded check-in lines. Then 6 days later, check a bag through and set that off on a 15 minute timer ( no casualties, but will shut down most airports as they can't move baggage without the machinery that would be damaged by it). Then, 4 days after that, set off a car bomb in 5 airports at once in the drop-off or pick-up areas.

        That should just about shut down all large airports in the US, and those that jump when they think the US might ask them at some point in the future to jump (UK/OZ, I'm looking at you). Modify the plan as reactions happen (i.e. delay the schedule if all airports are shut down). That would bankrupt all US airlines other than Southwest and Alaska, unless the government moves itself closer to bankruptcy with bailouts.

        The US is pretty delicate, more delicate than Americans would acknowledge, and so it would work because they wouldn't see the results from it coming.
      • Don't be a dumbass (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tlambert (566799) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @02:10AM (#39532525)

        normally would not use the term "dumbass"..

        The amount of economic damage from one talcum powder bomb in a chip fab says you are looking at the wrong metrics for what terrorism hopes to accomplish.

        -- Terry

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      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.

      You are limited to somewhere in the neighborhood of about 25 lbs. Of course my carry on has only been weighed once.

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:43PM (#39529711) Homepage
    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?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:56PM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:04PM (#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.

      • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Saturday March 31, 2012 @12:19AM (#39532209) Journal

        I like to think of it this way. America likes to think of itself like it's Charlie Brown*. In reality it's Peppermint Patty**.

        *As much as Charlie Brown is treated as a punching bag and is self-deprecating, it appears the world is set against him. He is the underdog who is too worried at times about going too far and hence is wishy-washy, but in a crisis he'll rise up as the natural leader and do the right thing.

        **Peppermint Patty is obnoxious, self-centered, and quick to lay blame upon others. Yea, everyone is in love with you, even when they don't even know you exist or love someone else. Golly, you're bossing people around all the time towards your own ends, but why does it seem like some people think you finally deciding to hold yourself back a bit is too little, too late? Oh, sure, you can be the leader, but if things get tough, you want to push the actual responsibility, concerns, etc on someone else. Or you can just ignore that there's any sort of connection between your orders and the implication that they'd actually deal with a problem by actually effecting it in a positive way.

        PS - Yea, yea, I've watched too many Peanut specials. I still like them though. I just don't like the idea of living them.

    • by steelfood (895457) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:17PM (#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...

    • by spasm (79260) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:11PM (#39531025) Homepage

      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.

      • by DCFusor (1763438)
        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: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:44PM (#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.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:46PM (#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.

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:52PM (#39529797) Homepage

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

      • by dfenstrate (202098) <{dfenstrate} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:37PM (#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.

        • by sunwukong (412560) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:51PM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:54PM (#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.

      • "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...

      • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:33PM (#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."

        • by pla (258480) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:53PM (#39530911) Journal
          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.
          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            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.

            Read their name tag on the way in. Don't make the mistake of moaning another agent's name during the exam, they don't like that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:08PM (#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.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:26PM (#39530743) Homepage

      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.

      • by pla (258480) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:04PM (#39530995) Journal
        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!
        • by retchdog (1319261)

          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.

    • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:07PM (#39531005) Journal

      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.

      • by oxdas (2447598) on Friday March 30, 2012 @09:55PM (#39531591)

        Perhaps I hold a less than optimistic view of the American public, but I doubt readers of the Economist are "average Americans." The Economist is left leaning by U.S. standards and has much higher intellectual standards that most media consumed by the "average American."

        • Perhaps I hold a less than optimistic view of the American public, but I doubt readers of the Economist are "average Americans." The Economist is left leaning by U.S. standards and has much higher intellectual standards that most media consumed by the "average American."

          That is a sad commentary on how far right America has slid in the last 20 years.

          The Economist is regarded as fairly right leaning in Canada, having blasted the previous Liberal prime minister and endorsing the current Conservative one (Harper) for years.

          It was big news here when the same publication slammed Harper for shutting down Parliament in 2010 rather than than let an opposition coalition take power.

        • > The Economist is left leaning by U.S. standards

          This may be true; I haven't read it regularly in a couple of years. But I do think it's true that extremists in either US party would find much of what appears in The Economist very uncomfortable. It's probably the most fair and balanced news source around these days and most USians aren't accustomed with that.

    • by spasm (79260)

      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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:49PM (#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.

  • I stopped flying. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OFnow (1098151) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:55PM (#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...
    • by Cosgrach (1737088)

      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. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:17PM (#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. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:38PM (#39530321) Homepage

      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. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by shadowofwind (1209890) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:56PM (#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.

      • by tragedy (27079) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:43PM (#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.

      • by chrismcb (983081)

        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.

        It seems like a common theme lately. "If you don't like foo don't participate" Well NOT flying isn't the way to stop the TSA. There are too many people flying. What is worse, is TSA's mandate actually covers more than airlines, they also include Rails. What will you do when they start doing the same thing at the rail station? The time to fight is now.

    • 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.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday March 30, 2012 @05:58PM (#39529857) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:08PM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:35PM (#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...

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:50PM (#39530447) Homepage Journal

        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!"?

        • by sunwukong (412560)

          You fool!

          Now he's going to become a shock jock!

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          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 t

          • by tqk (413719)

            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.

            Some things you're expected to do because that's what makes that system work. Some things you're expected to do by argument from authority; edict.

            It's good to distinguish between the two.

        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

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

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            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.

      • by Cosgrach (1737088)

        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.

      • by slew (2918)

        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

        • by 0111 1110 (518466) on Friday March 30, 2012 @10:24PM (#39531755)

          He wasn't talking about laws. He was talking about the bully mentality of American LEOs and pseudo-LEOs. Having lived in several of the countries you listed I can tell you first hand that the cops and security personnel in those countries are much less likely to have been schoolyard bullies as children. I couldn't believe it at first, but LEOs outside the US are far more likely to be relatively normal people without any chips on their shoulders and without any violent cravings to bash your head in with their night sticks and torture you with their tasers and pepper spray while laughing joyously about it with their buddies. It has something to do with US culture. It encourages certain kinds of people to admire violence and seek jobs where they have opportunities to beat up people who cannot legally defend themselves against them and who are usually grossly outnumbered in any case.

          As far as the US being a democracy, we actually aren't one. If we were a true democracy we would be able to abolish the DHS and TSA via direct popular vote. All we get to do is vote for people who then vote for which dictator we get to have. It's really a silly system. I think this is a perfect example of why a (constitutionally limited) true democracy would be preferable. Here's a situation where the majority is against a new kind of tyranny and yet there is nothing that we can do to stop it.

      • by UpnAtom (551727)

        Your story is awesome and somewhat plausible. However, do you have a source?

        All I could find is that Megatron is banned because he can transform into a gun.
        http://www.tfw2005.com/boards/transformers-news-rumors/343668-tsa-bans-transformers-flights.html [tfw2005.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:18PM (#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.

    • by CrackedButter (646746) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:27PM (#39530199) Homepage Journal

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

    • by overshoot (39700) on Friday March 30, 2012 @06:32PM (#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.

    • 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.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday March 30, 2012 @07:01PM (#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.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      The TSA guy said that by preventing terrorists from using complicated liquid explosives,

      Instead the "terrorists" dump their explosives in the garbage can next to the security line.
      You either treat that bottle of water as a bomb, and dispose of it properly. Or you let me take it on the plane.

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Friday March 30, 2012 @08:22PM (#39531083) Journal

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

    -jcr

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday March 31, 2012 @04:03AM (#39532843) Journal

    Why would a terrorist bent on making bloody mayhem even bother with forging an ID? He could just wander into the crowd of people waiting for the security theater ritual. There's a far higher density of people there than you get on a plane, and it would certainly get just as much press as bringing a plane down.

    Of course, there's another thing that Bruce is too polite to mention about the security theater is that its actual purpose is to compel the public to make a conspicuous show of obedience to arbitrary, useless, and idiotic authority figures. They might as well just demand a stiff-arm salute and a heel click in the direction of a photo of the Godlike Leader Whom We All Love Or Else.

    -jcr

No one gets sick on Wednesdays.

Working...