Former DHS Secretary Says We Can Make Airports Safer From Terrorists By Rearranging Security Checkpoints
from the another-security-theater-script-rewrite-in-the-works dept
Another terrorist attack somewhere in the world* has provoked another round of punditry from former government officials on how to protect America from future attacks. Over the coming weeks, there will be no shortage of stupid ideas, useless ideas and pointless discussions about “heightened security” at any place people gather.
*”World” = Western Europe only
None of it will matter. Security has never really been scaled back anywhere since the 9/11 attacks — certainly not to the levels seen prior to September 2001. There’s only so much security anyone can actually provide but endless off-Broadway productions of security theater to be explored.
Michael Chertoff — head of the Chertoff Group and former Homeland Security secretary — spoke to CBS This Morning about what might need to be done to make airports more secure. Chertoff is right about one thing: TSA checkpoints create a tempting target of massed humans — all waiting for their chance to be probed, scanned and groped by government employees.
“Well I have to say this is something I’ve spoken to people about for some time. The actual portion of the airport before the checkpoint is not really controlled by the federal government, it’s controlled by the local authorities. And it has increasingly become vulnerable, because as people wait to go through security they actually congregate there.”
I’m not sure the local boys will appreciate this dig at their security skills. But Chertoff’s “solution” is just a literal expansion of federal government territory.
“And so now there’s an effort I think on the part of TSA to start to move the airports into pushing the security envelope back. We’ve seen some of that in terms of not allowing you to park in front of the terminal, but I think we’re going to have to step that up.”
So… move the target. Instead of being deep inside the airport, it will be closer to the entrance. As Gawker’s Alex Pareene notes, at some point you can’t push the envelope back any further. And there’s no expansion point that will magically protect fliers from terrorist attacks.
Ah. Of course. We’ll “push the security envelope back.” The old checkpoints created crowds, sure, but once we move the security checkpoints back, just a bit bit further (to just before you enter the airport, I guess), it will be much safer for everyone, at least once everyone gets past the new checkpoints. Maybe eventually we can push the security envelope back to before you get in your car to go to the airport—your garage door, maybe?
Push people closer to the entrance. Make them more vulnerable to car bombs/larger groups of attackers. Push the envelope all the way out to the connecting roads. Same problem but with the added bonus of intrusive vehicle searches for everyone heading to the airport, whether they’re planning to fly or not. There’s no point where traveler safety suddenly spikes. Every nudge of the envelope opens as many attack vectors as it shuts down.
That’s the ridiculousness of the TSA. It has done almost nothing to make flying safer. The only thing anyone can say for sure is that the TSA has made flying more annoying.
Maybe they’ll move the checkpoints. Maybe they won’t. Airplanes aren’t the target. People are. And people are everywhere. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can’t save all of the people all of the time, but you can make most of them miserable most of the time. That’s how the DHS works. Actions must always be followed by reactions specifically tailored to address the parameters of the last attack or perceived threat. Somehow, we’ll be safer by staying one step behind and ceding control to the government.