Enhanced Security My Tuchus!

by Kevin Jon Heller

I rarely agree with our colleagues at the Volokh Conspiracy, but I think Jonathan Adler is right on the mark when he describes the TSA’s security measures as “political theater.”  It’s all about creating the illusion of safety, not actual safety.  An erstwhile terrorist needs more than 100ml of a particular liquid to make a bomb? Let’s hope he’s not smart enough to divide the liquid in two…

On a personal note, I returned to Melbourne yesterday from Los Angeles.  The radio warned international travelers to arrive at LAX earlier than normal, because of the enhanced security the TSA was adopting in the wake of the incident on the flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, so I sucked it up and arrived three hours early.  (I usually arrive two, because I have premium check in.  One of the perks of everything being thousands of miles away from Australia — oodles of frequent-flyer miles.)  It took me a grand total of seven minutes to get from the curb outside the terminal to the gate.  Security was nowhere to be found — there weren’t even LAPD officers at the normal checkpoint on the road that leads to the departure level.  No one asked me if I had packed my own bags or whether they had been in my control.  I breezed through the metal detectors even though I had forgotten to remove two bottles of liquid, one of which was larger than 100ml, from my bag.  And the TSA officer at the metal detector didn’t even ask for my boarding card.

The most amusing “enhanced security” measure has to be not allowing air shows on international flights — the program in the in-flight entertainment that tracks the plane’s progress and tells you how long until arrival.  Apparently, the TSA thinks that the air shows will help terrorists determine the best time to do something untoward on the plane.  Because, you know, now they will have no idea when the plane is landing — not from the steward’s announcement on the intercom that breakfast will be served 90 minutes before final descent, and certainly not from the captain’s announcement that the plane is starting its landing run.  Without the air show, it’s like teleporting — you take off, and then all of a sudden you’re there!

I feel safer already.

http://opiniojuris.org/2009/12/27/enhanced-security-my-tuchus/

3 Responses

  1. Professor Heller,

    Early reports are claiming that individuals released from gitmo may have been the masterminds behind this plot.  In light of your earlier comments on released gitmo detainees, what say you?

  2. NewStream:  That’s a rather wide angle you’re taking there.  Care to elaborate on where you got your “reliable” information from?
    On the same point, it would seem that quite a few individuals who were released from Gitmo, were not a part of the attack.  What does that tell you?

    Kevin: Welcome back to Aust, you can carry knitting needles on flights here now… :-)

  3. The source is ABC, quoting DOJ officials.

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