Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wish in One Hand....

Poor John Pistole. He so desperately wants to create a system of airport security that's more focused on actual threats and less on security theater, but for some reason hasn't found a way.
John Pistole, the T.S.A. chief and 26-year veteran of the F.B.I., said he called Tom Sawyer, a 61-year-old bladder cancer survivor who had his urostomy bag dislodged, and urine spilled on him, after a rough T.S.A. search in Detroit last November.

“I asked him to come in and provide some personal perspective that could be used in training to give greater sensitivity,” said Pistole, who flew Sawyer from Lansing, Mich., to Washington.
Great. And after the phone call and obtaining the passenger's perspective TSA changed what policies?
He said they are trying to move past a “one-size-fits-all” program and implement a “risk-based, intelligence-driven process” by the end of the year that would have more refined targeting. If passengers are willing to share the same information they give to airline frequent-flier programs, he said, maybe some day they will be able to “keep their jacket on and their laptop in their briefcase and hang on to that unfinished bottle of water.

“I’d like to get to the point,” he said wistfully, “where most people could leave their shoes on.”
Up until the U.S. insisted that Canada adopt U.S. screening standards, you could wear your shoes through security on a flight into the U.S. For that matter, most of the world does not obsess over whether your laptop computer is in a bag vs. a TSA-approved pouch, or is removed from a non-approved bag or pouch before you go through security. They're not big on requiring medical equipment to be removed from cases and placed directly in the not-so-clean screening bins used at security checkpoints. Heck, sometimes you can even wear a jacket or sweater through a metal detector.

Now I'm sure that this is well-justified by a technocrat with a spreadsheet... "We've found zero devices and prevented zero terrorist incidents through our heightened security, versus the zero incidents that have occurred in other countries as a result of their more relaxed approaches to security and... let's see... zero divided by zero... that means our system is infinitely better!"

Funny thing, I recall giving TSA every piece of ID and every bit of information it has ever asked from me. And it turns out that all it needs to end this security theater and to start focusing on actual threats is my frequent flier number? No problem. All you had to do was ask. Um... John, you are asking, aren't you? This is a plan, right?

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