Wednesday, August 16, 2006

airport insecurity

All these new airport security measures have been much on my mind - particularly since I will be flying out of here in just a couple of days. So they have decided to let us carry small amounts of certain types of liquid, though we definitely must remove and submit our shoes for scanning -- in spite of the fact that the technology currently being used in our nation's airports is unable to detect the type of explosives it is supposed to be scanning for (read this.)

The last time I flew (out of Boston Logan) I set off the security beeper for some reason. I had never set it off before and I still don't have a clue what set it off this time, but the ensuing pat-down was invasive and humiliating in the extreme.

It amazes me that this latest round of indignities is not making fliers angrier than it is. I was reading some "woman in the airport" type articles on line and they quote people saying things like"Yes it's a pain but if it makes flying safer than how can you object?"

Well, listen up, folks: scanning shoes, confiscating bottles of water, lighters and any other common object that they suddenly decide they want to take from you is not making anyone safer. They are attempting to close the barn door after the horses have all escaped as the bad guys are 3 steps ahead in finding new ways to mess with us. To take the barnyard analogy one step further -- we are all just a bunch of dumb sheep if we let them keep foisting these indignities upon us.

23 Comments:

Blogger mleahy said...

Sandy, you are right about airport security not being up to par. As long as we here in the U.S. are more concerned with convenience vs. security, safety can not improve. Take "El Al", Israel's national airline for instance, they utilize the most advanced search and interrogation methods in the world for their passengers. Of course we know what that gets them...zero incidents over the last thirty years! We as Americans have to decide if we want security or convenience. You can't have both, period. BTW I don't care what the ACLU thinks of security measures, they prefer to defend terrorists. Just my thoughts. MLeahy

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Guess I fall into the dumb sheep category because I feel as the "woman in the airport" - if it makes us safer (or even think that we are safer) I am for it. Maybe the X-rays don't detect a shoe bomb - but a potential shoe bomber might just let his nerves get the best of him as his shoes go through the security x-ray.

I am flying out tomorrow and will do what they say to do. It's probably better for my back that I am checking my bag rather than wresling it through the airport as a carry on.

4:37 PM  
Blogger ~melissa said...

I don't have a problem with checking the stuff. I also don't know what the answer is to this. They keep scaring us, so we lose little bits of our freedom.

anyway, have a great day!!

~melissa

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All air travel terrorist activity has been done by arab men between about 19 and 40 years old.
Not a single gray haired black, white or asian lady has ever caused a problem. I say we profile the terrorists and back off on the people who dont' bomb airplanes.

10:20 AM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Anonymous, I agree that terrorists of the past have been Arab men, but have you been following the story out of London where one of the arrested was a caucasion woman attempting to smuggle liquid explosives in her 6mo. old baby's bottle? Did you hear about the two caucasion teens in San Antonio caught trying to steal over three thousand pounds of explosives from a construction worksite? They already had blasting caps and an undisclosed amount of nitrogen rich fertilizer. Lets not forget the Oklahoma bombing of a federal building, Tim Mcvey was not an Arab. I think that profiling of Arabs & Persians (Iranian) to a certain extent is necessary but lets not ignore everyone else. By ignoring non-Arabs you subscribe to the "Ignorance is Bliss" mentality. We can not afford that. MLeahy

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

mleahy,
I am only commenting on Feet's comments on airport security.
Here is what I can find about women and baby bottles;

(Liquid explosives carried in child's baby bottle

14 August 2006: According to authorities at Scotland Yard, Abdula Ahmed ALI, 25, and his 23-year-old wife Cossor ALI were arrested and are being questioned over suspicions that they were planning to use their baby's bottle to hide a liquid bomb. Cossor's grandfather, Nazir Ahmed, 84, admitted that Abdula ALI traveled to Pakistan about four weeks ago. That admission follows information from British Intelligence officials that many of the airline bomb plot suspects posed as relief workers to travel to al-Qaeda training camps in Pakistan. Police spent Sunday searching the suspect’s east London housing commission flat for evidence.

Police in the UK have recovered baby bottles containing peroxide, including some with false bottoms, from a recycling centre close to the homes of some of the arrested suspects.

In a separate but related case, a Muslim family of five- a husband, wife and 3 children, boarded American Airlines flight 109 at Britain’s Heathrow airport destined for Boston Logan airport on Sunday, 6 August 2006.

According to intelligence officials, the family checked in at the last minute, and as a result, only a superficial check of the children’s carry-on bags was conducted by airport security personnel.

Following the take off of the airliner, the check-in computer at the airport flashed a warning that a person under observation had boarded the flight. The airline staff informed immigration and security officials, and a background check found that the male adult member of the family was on a suspect list prepared by Scotland Yard subsequent to the 7/7 terror bombings in London. The pilot was ultimately alerted to the situation and after careful consideration, returned to Heathrow airport rather than continuing on to Boston.

Upon landing back at Heathrow, armed marshals boarded the aircraft and took the suspect and his family into custody. It was at that time a search of the children’s carry-on baggage revealed the deadly cargo.)


I cannot find anything about a lone caucasian trying to smuggle anything on a plane.

The kids in San Antonio were not in an airport , nor was Timothy McVay.
I am not subscribing to "Ignorance is Bliss", I am saying lets not let a very identifiable group of people keep restricting the freedom of movement of the traveling public in Airports anymore than they already have.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you would totally eliminate all carry on items of any kind, including coats, bulky clothing, and have empty pockets (those items must be put in you checked luggage) for any domestic flight under 4 hours you would not need to search 85% of the people.
Walk them through metal detectors when they enter the secure area and let them on the plane.

5:25 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Anonymous, Thank you for correcting me on her ethnicity, at least she was not an Arab male between 19 & 40 years old. The youths in San Antonio, I don't think were saving up for a new years' celebration. I'm just sayin.... Tim McVay still commited an act of terrorism. The moment we only racial profile airline passengers, YOU are in for a big surprise (I'll expect it!). Then of course those idiots at the ACLU will get involved! Don't forget metal detectors only detect metal (Not like terrorists know about plastic explosives.) A digital watch, wire from headphones, plastic explosive (a couple other minor components) and guess what you have? Anyway, have a great evening. MLeahy

6:41 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:12 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

John Kelso at the Austin-American Stateman newspaper had a great idea. FLY NEKKED.

OK, that was funny but the point is, if you can't bring anything on an airplane, none of these kids or babies can terrorize an airplane - well except when they scream and fart and stuff. So good point on the Anon dude right above you,, MLeahy.

Really, the airlines hate people bringing stuff onto a plane because it can become a missile if things get rough. If the baggage is checked, it is weighed and the pilot knows how much weight and fuel to compensate ... otherwise one has to assume "x" amount of weight per walk-on person with his or her carry-ons, which can be in excess of 300 pounds sometimes.

In other places I have written how the airline industry is fixing to literally crash, since they cannot afford pensions or customer satisfaction anymore. It is a shame, and even SW Airlines seems to be going tits-up. Enjoy it while you can stand it.

8:17 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

7:38 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Well, this is my final word on this subject... I must leave on a business trip on 9.11.06. I don't know about you, but I would rather be subjected to minor inconveniences, including body search vs. potential catastrophe (like insurance, you hope you will never need it.) Which sounds more appealing to you? MLeahy

7:46 PM  
Blogger Lucinda said...

Actually, I would prefer to take my chances. Every time I leave my house there is a chance something awful can happen. The odds of being attacked by a terrorist are so miniscule compared to other bad things (i.e. getting hit by a drunk driver) that I have to wonder where people draw their lines. How many personal freedoms are _you willing to give up for an almost immeasureable increase in degree of safety? Wiling to let the security person see you naked via xray? Willing to be strip-searched before you climb on the plane? Both of those requirements would make flying safer -- but is it worth it to you?

9:00 AM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Those x-ray machines you refer to do not show you naked. They are NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) based units which show your outline and any objects beneath clothes. As far a strip searching is concerned, that is only done if there is probable cause and there are many things which constitute probable cause. Remember it's a last resort and for you a only a female agent would be present. Things are getting better...If you wanted to start a communist party here in the U.S., you have the freedom to do that. Try having done that in the 1950's. Anyway, have a great weekend. MLeahy

3:37 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Now now now, children, you both have valid points. The question is if all the bullshit that qualifies for airport security does one damn bit of good. To MLeahy, buddy, the answer is probably not. The FAA and various FED agencies have smuggled all kinds of things right through TSA security, walked on airplanes, and written the airport and airline up for major infractions. Due to new Homeland Security regulations they can no longer publish these audits, but the last batch from 2004/2005 were not very promising. Let me know if you need some factual proof there. To say it bluntly, TSA sucks and they never stopped a single damned terrorist and they're just sucking the hind teat on my taxpayer money.

Sure, some folks "feel" better when all the airport hooha is conducted, although frankly all this makes me nervous as hell and sometimes make me miss my connecting flight for no good reason.

Recently the FAA and TSA have invited the Israeli airport folks over to help fix things, as things were a horrible mess. The Israelis said that TSA sucks and could NEVER stop a terrorist unless they changed their ways.

One of the things the Israelis did recommend was to train folks on facial and body recognition patterns, since folks who want to do certain mean and nasty things usually have a certain posture and expression. This sounded real promising ... until the TSA pulled over a prominent member of the ACLU for an intensive search (which yielded nothing); the man is now suing the crap out of the TSA for racial profiling and wants to mandate a cease and desist order.

Let me give you an example of why some of TSA's policies are so political and useless. A friend of mine was coming back from old Mexico in his car and parked it and told to guard to "have at it."

The border security dude said "sir, please stay in the car. I already know your name, social security number, where you live, driver's licence, outstanding warrants, FBI profile, and we don't want you today. If you would please proceed and get the hell out of here, we won't mess with you."

That should open some eyes!

11:01 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Thanks dad, are we there yet? (he he:). I agree that airport security is not where it needs to be. My contention is that if we give up on even trying then the terrorists (those that wish to do us harm) win. We need to at least try with the capabilities we currently have. this is not the same as resources, I am referring to TSA personnel. Enough said, that is why we have "Chocolate & Vanilla", different strokes for different folks. BTW have you watched any Glenn Beck yet? Take care, MLeahy

11:41 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Hey Mike, you have a point that much of the airport security really works, and we've come a long way since 9/11.

I suppose that non-intrusive surveillance is where the future should be. It is good old detective work, like how the Brits caught the would-be airplane bombers.

But it's always been a cattle drive anyway, right?

3:23 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Hey! I found a solution to flight safety!!!! WaaaaaaHoooooo!!! Check this out :)http://mfile.akamai.com/6713/wma/glennbeck.download.akamai.com/6713/preview/06/08/fisherfilesFlySafe.asx Hope the link works. MLeahy

8:45 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Cool, but the TSA after two weeks still can't see daylight because they have their heads up their butts, so the ban on all liquids, gells, and sunscreen is still in effect. Let me ask you, or any American, if they feel one bit better because their sun-tan lotion is being tossed into a trash container. Case closed, the screwballs are completely nuts, and if it was the old days I'd say off with their heads.

11:33 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

I suppose I look at terrorist actions like an orphan disease. They are rare, and we don't have all the answers, but that does not mean that we should not try to cure/solve the problem however inconvenient to the patient (us). Which methods are most effective can only be proven over time. This is something we can not intelligently discuss st this early stage. I vote for meaningful solutions vs. critisism, usually more productive. I ask all Americans reading, "What is the answer?". MLeahy

10:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Off with their heads is what I say!" That is progress! Marie Antoinette

11:08 PM  
Blogger mleahy said...

Yes, let them eat cake, anonymous (Marie). When I go to Dallas on 9/11, guess what? I will not be an idiot and take restricted items to the airport. Therefore, I will not have anything thrown away in a trash can. I may be on to something? Yea!!!!! MLeahy

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should take clues from airline security in Israel. Is there a country with as big a security risk as they have? They don't frisk lavender-haired little old ladies. Instead of looking for bombs, they look for terrorists. They are pros at it, and are the safest airline in the skies.

We Americans are too politically correct to profile. We're too sensitive at our own peril.

Profiling is not about discrimination, it's a scientific process based on the most likely. Profiling doesn't mean anyone is gulity. It just makes sense to look among the most likely. To date, all terror attacks have been commited by Muslims. This certainly doesn't mean that all muslims are terrorists, even though all terrorists have been Muslims. No, this process alone won't assure our safety, but it doesn't mean it should be ruled out, either.

Physicians profile risk factors in looking for disease every day. Sure, there's that one in a thousand chance that there will be an exception, but they'd be negligent to discount the "most likely" in search of the one in a thousand.

The same with architects, etc.

It's time to stop "random" searches because we're trying to be politically correct. Profiling works very well for the biggest terror target: Israel.

6:26 PM  

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