Friday, January 31, 2014

Security Theater

Since everyone is linking to this article at Politico by a former TSA agent, I will do so as well. Among other things, the agent describes how ineffectual is the security--including the full body scanners.
We knew the full-body scanners didn’t work before they were even installed. Not long after the Underwear Bomber incident, all TSA officers at O’Hare were informed that training for the Rapiscan Systems full-body scanners would soon begin. The machines cost about $150,000 a pop. 
Our instructor was a balding middle-aged man who shrugged his shoulders after everything he said, as though in apology. At the conclusion of our crash course, one of the officers in our class asked him to tell us, off the record, what he really thought about the machines. 
“They’re shit,” he said, shrugging. He said we wouldn’t be able to distinguish plastic explosives from body fat and that guns were practically invisible if they were turned sideways in a pocket. 
We quickly found out the trainer was not kidding: Officers discovered that the machines were good at detecting just about everything besides cleverly hidden explosives and guns. The only thing more absurd than how poorly the full-body scanners performed was the incredible amount of time the machines wasted for everyone.
Of course, the purchase and installation of body scanners was never about security, but about crony capitalism:
... George W. Bush’s former Homeland Security Secretary, Michael Chertoff has a personal financial stake in the production of full body scanners produced by Rapiscan Systems (a subsidiary of OSI Systems). Notably, the CEO of OSI Systems recently joined President Barack Obama on the recent trip to India. No doubt it was a great opportunity to convince Obama of the “necessity” of full-body scanners in the ironic battle to protect freedom.

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