Thursday, March 8, 2007

Airline Security Since 9/11

Over on Schneier's blog, there is a lively discussion about an article link Bruce posted. I posted a comment, but have more to say below.

What real security improvements have been made?
  1. Stronger cockpit doors
  2. Air Marshals
  3. Passengers (and crew) who know that resisting the hijacker may be the best course of action
Regarding number three, it is not always necessary to fight the hijacker. In 2004, Eritrean hijackers seeking political asylum, diverted a plane to the Sudan.

However, in the continuing to fight the last war department, we have multi-million dollar projects to build a hijack-proof plane.

SAFEE coordinator Daniel Gaultier said: "You never reach zero level of threat, no risk, but if you equip planes with on-board electronics, it will make them very difficult to hijack."
<sarcasm>Sure, electronics will make it better. Just like the on-board electronics in RFID equipped
passports. Electronics always make you safer.</sarcasm>

It is important that we address known threats and act to make
people feel safer on airplanes but what are we doing about the next threat?

We could be loading baggage into blast-proof cargo containers, but as I pointed out in my comment, this is being fought by the airlines themselves. The airlines must believe it is much cheaper to just pay-off the relatives or sue Libya.

What else? Protecting our ports of entry? You could ship an entire tank division through one of our ports, let alone a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon. Meanwhile people think building a 2000-mile fence to keep out our gardeners, housekeepers and building contractors is a good idea. Hello, New Orleans, sorry all those folks actually helping you rebuild the city... Please send them back to Mexico. If I were Bin Laden, I would be driving a taxi in New York, availing myself of our excellent hemodialysis care, while personally selecting the next target.

Does anyone really think that a terrorist will risk dying of thirst crossing the Mexican border, when they can just as easily enter the country on a Princess Cruise? Am I the only person who saw Speed 2?

The latest craze with liquids on airplanes, is an example of the hype involved here. These activities do not make us safer and will most likely lead us to ignore the real warning signs. After all, smokers are (warning: may be inappropriate for some viewers) still finding ways around the system.

If individual safety is more important than lobbyist dollars or inconvenience, then we should be building safer planes, blast-proof cargo containers, banning most carry-ons and getting rid of those awful snacks. We also need a homeland security organization that consults with people like the Tofflers, Vinges and Harlan Ellison.

No comments: