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  #51  
Old 01-09-2019, 11:33 PM
TSBG TSBG is offline
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I think we should stop to consider that the post-hijacking wave, pre-9/11 security regime was pretty successful. I credit a number of things for this, including the then-existing security procedures and things we'll never know in detail like what the FBI and CIA did to forestall such attacks. And remember the US and specifically its president were warned that al-Qaeda wanted to use planes in a a terror attack, but the president chose to do nothing.

So, plane-attacking terrorists got very lucky--once. As a result we all take off our shoes.

Last edited by TSBG; 01-09-2019 at 11:34 PM.
  #52  
Old 01-09-2019, 11:54 PM
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If the cockpit door is locked, what good does it do to slit the throats of the flight attendants? As soon as the pilot brings the plane down, lots of armed men will enter and those perps will be escorted to prison.
If the hijackers managed to get into the cockpit, their goal is to die, not to fly safely to Kabul. I don't think they will be deterred by the prospects of getting arrested.

Slashing the throats of 10 or 20 flight attendants and passengers mid-air would be a very terrifying act of terror and, hence, help them achieve their goals. No less terrifying than running a truck through a street fair in Europe. I doubt the typical load of passengers can react quickly enough to stop them before they kill a bunch of people on the airplane.

Or is it OK if they kill a bunch of people on the plane as long as they don't take over the cockpit and get arrested afterward?
  #53  
Old 01-10-2019, 12:35 AM
Great Antibob Great Antibob is offline
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Or is it OK if they kill a bunch of people on the plane as long as they don't take over the cockpit and get arrested afterward?
That's more than a small goalpost shift of the purpose of TSA security screening.

The main point of TSA screening is to prevent aircraft hijacks and bombings. Due to other, simpler measures (mostly a secured cockpit door), small knives can't be used to hijack an aircraft unless the crew does something very dumb and against security procedures. And neither can small knives be used to blow planes up.

It isn't possible for any screening, even with perfect detection, to prevent all possible violent human interactions aboard aircraft. That's flat out impossible. That's an unrealistic and unreasonable expectation to set on the TSA, no matter how effective or not they are at it. Somebody may claim that's the putative goal, but perfection is always more of an aspiration than realistic goal.

A person set on harming random chosen people is going to manage it. We want to make it harder to accomplish this on aircraft and to mitigate damage. Damage mitigation is largely accomplished already. And we can always do things to make it harder to hurt people, but these should be realistic rather than based on what feels good but not actually useful.

Prisoners, despite even more stringent security measures and inspections in prisons, manage to create makeshift shivs from a variety of common items. The idea that confiscating small knives represents a significant improvement in passenger safety from a planned attack involving stabbing and slicing defies reality and experience.
  #54  
Old 01-10-2019, 12:47 AM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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I agree it's unlikely to work, but that doesn't mean I don't want them screening for it.
The problem is that the screening has a real cost.

The TSA collected 4 billion dollars in fees last year. There are so many better ways to use 4 billion dollars to save people's lives, even if you limit it to preventing terrorist attacks.

Yes, I know that all $4 billion isn't spent on knife prevention. But some meaningful amount is. And that's just the monetary cost. How much of our lives do we waste standing in stupid lines waiting for screening that doesn't make us meaningfully safer? How much hassle and bureaucratic idiocy and invasion of personal space and not having a fucking pocket knife when you need one while traveling. It's hard to see that as anything but a tremendously wasteful misallocation of effort.

People are very bad at risk analysis.
  #55  
Old 01-10-2019, 02:30 AM
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The whole TSA/airport experience reminds me of 1930s Germany. YMMV
  #56  
Old 01-10-2019, 03:42 AM
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So, plane-attacking terrorists got very lucky--once. As a result we all take off our shoes.
That was actually because of a plane-attacking terrorist (Richard Reid) who was thwarted by the existing security, which made it very difficult to get a real detonator through.

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The whole TSA/airport experience reminds me of 1930s Germany. YMMV
Yes, how horrible. Six million Jews, they had to put their bags through an X-ray and then they lived the rest of their lives in peace. So sad, never again.


Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-10-2019 at 03:45 AM.
  #57  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:08 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Let's look at the data we have.

198 concealed weapons found last year
Security tests imply that the TSA fails to find weapons at least 50% of the time.

This suggests, in the conservative case, that approximately 200 concealed weapons were NOT found last year.

It is impossible to PROVE they were not found, but if a system fails spectacularly in undercover tests, it is highly unlikely that they succeed fantastically during normal times.

So, if 200 weapons were not found, and there weren't any terrorist attacks on planes with these weapons, I'd say the smart money is on the other 198 not being terrorist plots as well.
This. The problem is that once we start down this discussion, others get confused and think that I am advocating for guns on planes or don't care if there are guns on planes.

It seems there is a further argument that the TSA is successful because they have prevented a certain number of guns on planes. But the TSA is not keeping guns off of planes merely for the sake of keeping guns off planes. That is where some of us start talking past each other.

Were there any tests done pre-911 to see how effective the old private screeners did in detecting guns?

But to the point of the thread, I do not recall any hijackings in the U.S. pre-TSA starting from when metal detectors were first installed in the early 1970s until September 11, 2001. Yes, they tragically hit us in the chin on that day, but that scenario, as has been said, will never play out again. There is simply no way that terrorists will breach the cockpit of an aircraft again to use it as a missile.

So, I think it reasonable to look back almost twenty years later and ask if these billions of dollars are worth it. Not only the billions of dollars, but flying is just no longer fun anymore. I don't like having to waste two hours of my life by getting to the airport so damned early. My daughter will never get the experience of seeing her friend off at the gate, or having a beer or coffee with her friend at the gate before her flight.

Of course, these things are worth giving up if it means that people will be getting killed, but I am not convinced that is the case.
  #58  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:19 AM
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I don't like having to waste two hours of my life by getting to the airport so damned early. My daughter will never get the experience of seeing her friend off at the gate, or having a beer or coffee with her friend at the gate before her flight.
The lines are so long! And there aren't enough people in them!

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-10-2019 at 08:19 AM.
  #59  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:24 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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The lines are so long! And there aren't enough people in them!
But pre-TSA, you empty your pockets in the little change thing, run your bag through the x ray machine, step through the metal detector and off you go.

The lines are not long because of too many people, but because of people having to take off shoes, belt, put laptop in separate bin, listen to some sovereign citizen argue with the TSA agent that the hatchet in his carry on is a tool of his trade and bring up the TSA website to incorrectly argue that it is permitted, etc.
  #60  
Old 01-10-2019, 08:51 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is offline
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But to the point of the thread, I do not recall any hijackings in the U.S. pre-TSA starting from when metal detectors were first installed in the early 1970s until September 11, 2001.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...aft_hijackings

There were quite a few U.S. hijackings during that period -- more than I would have guessed.
  #61  
Old 01-10-2019, 10:39 AM
DSYoungEsq DSYoungEsq is offline
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But pre-TSA, you empty your pockets in the little change thing, run your bag through the x ray machine, step through the metal detector and off you go.

The lines are not long because of too many people, but because of people having to take off shoes, belt, put laptop in separate bin, listen to some sovereign citizen argue with the TSA agent that the hatchet in his carry on is a tool of his trade and bring up the TSA website to incorrectly argue that it is permitted, etc.
Big deal. That's making you sound like the guy who is chasing the young 'uns off your lawn. I recall when I could sit at home at night and choose from three reasonably decent television programs at 8 pm, rather than having to slog through hundreds of really poor television choices, only to decide that re-watching a movie will probably be more fun, if only I can remember which of my streaming services is showing it. And if you are finding it annoying to stand in line for endless hours, may I suggest that you simply pony up for TSA Pre-check, which is ridiculously quick in most airports.

The main issue here is whether or not TSA screening has any significant value in reducing/removing the threat of air terror (of ANY kind, not just hijackings; after all, a bomb in an airplane is not a hijacking). It is possible that the hyped-up screening is preventing such attacks; it is also possible that it is not preventing anything, either because no one is trying anything, nor would they try anything, or because other methods are weeding them out first. But given the laundry list of confiscated items that could do real damage if in the wrong hands, I'm comfortable with continuation of the screening pretty much as-is, and that's despite the fact that I tend to agree that it's more for "show" than for actual "effect".
  #62  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:27 AM
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Those deprecating the TSA ignore the many bottles of human breast milk for babies which have been turned away. Milk can be mixed with cyanide, ricin and other deadly poisons.

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Just FYI, in 2017 a record-setting 3,957, firearms were discovered in carry-on bags at checkpoints across the country, averaging 76.1 firearms per week. Approximately 84 percent were loaded. Another 198 items (mostly knives and tasers) were found after being deliberately concealed in a hidden pocket or deceptive packaging.
Wow! This may tell us little about TSA or terrorism, but it sure reminds us about American Exceptionalism ó what makes the Land of the Brave so special.
  #63  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:33 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Big deal. That's making you sound like the guy who is chasing the young 'uns off your lawn. I recall when I could sit at home at night and choose from three reasonably decent television programs at 8 pm, rather than having to slog through hundreds of really poor television choices, only to decide that re-watching a movie will probably be more fun, if only I can remember which of my streaming services is showing it. And if you are finding it annoying to stand in line for endless hours, may I suggest that you simply pony up for TSA Pre-check, which is ridiculously quick in most airports.

The main issue here is whether or not TSA screening has any significant value in reducing/removing the threat of air terror (of ANY kind, not just hijackings; after all, a bomb in an airplane is not a hijacking). It is possible that the hyped-up screening is preventing such attacks; it is also possible that it is not preventing anything, either because no one is trying anything, nor would they try anything, or because other methods are weeding them out first. But given the laundry list of confiscated items that could do real damage if in the wrong hands, I'm comfortable with continuation of the screening pretty much as-is, and that's despite the fact that I tend to agree that it's more for "show" than for actual "effect".
First, I was responding to the suggestion that allowing friends to go to the gate with you would make the long lines even longer.

Second, as I said, if these procedures are keeping X number of people from being killed each year, then it may very well be worth it. I'm just curious what the new advanced screening would capture that the previous system didn't catch.

I mean, if I run my bag through an X ray device and I go through a metal detector, that should catch any guns, knives, or bombs.
  #64  
Old 01-10-2019, 11:46 AM
purplehorseshoe purplehorseshoe is offline
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Wait, pouring human breast milk down the drain is a *good* thing now? What the hell would a terrorist do with ricin-laced human breast milk? Force people to drink it?
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  #65  
Old 01-10-2019, 01:41 PM
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Wait, pouring human breast milk down the drain is a *good* thing now? What the hell would a terrorist do with ricin-laced human breast milk? Force people to drink it?
This woman had been harassed for carrying milk the week before and had explained TSA rules about milk to the TSA handlers. The next week they were ready for the uppity bitch, leaving her in a detention cell at the checkpoint long enough to ensure she missed her flight.

Google gives other hits. TSA tossed this woman's milk and later apologized for not following their own procedures, but the woman was upset enough to contact a news station. It's unclear to me whether ricin, or something else, was TSA's concern.

Many government scientists are on furlough right now, but these TSA oafs are "essential."
  #66  
Old 01-10-2019, 02:07 PM
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Maybe you have some cites that arent Youtube videos?
  #67  
Old 01-10-2019, 02:55 PM
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...aft_hijackings

There were quite a few U.S. hijackings during that period -- more than I would have guessed.
There were lots of Cuban hijackings around 1974. Notice that there weren't that many US hijackings after the metal detectors got put in, and many of them were things like fake bombs. One was an airline employee who did not get screened IIRC.
Things were pretty loose before then. In 1970 I smuggled a hamster onto the plane in my camera case. Today I could call it a support hamster.

(No, not really - I'm aware of the restrictions.)
  #68  
Old 01-10-2019, 02:59 PM
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But given the laundry list of confiscated items that could do real damage if in the wrong hands, I'm comfortable with continuation of the screening pretty much as-is, and that's despite the fact that I tend to agree that it's more for "show" than for actual "effect".
Show is a valid policing method. Mounted police at rallies or near crowds are more for show than anything else, and it seems to work.
  #69  
Old 01-10-2019, 03:18 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Sorry for my IMHO statement, but the terrorists it stops are those who decided not to even try. And it is utterly impossible to know how many of those there have been. One thing for sure. After the old flight inspections started, people stopped hijacking flights to Cuba. And even those fairly crude inspections should not have allowed 19 people with boxcutters on four different flights.
  #70  
Old 01-10-2019, 03:28 PM
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......but flying is just no longer fun anymore. I don't like having to waste two hours of my life by getting to the airport so damned early. My daughter will never get the experience of seeing her friend off at the gate, or having a beer or coffee with her friend at the gate before her flight.
News Flash. Flying stopped being fun sometime in the 1970ís, well before 9/11. It happened at about the time air travel became affordable for the average person on a regular basis and planes turned into Greyhound buses with wings, only way smaller and way less comfortable.

And most of the airports I am familiar with started restricting access to the gate area to passengers only at around that time, again well before 9/11. In some of them it was a congestion issue more than security ó as more people started flying everywhere there were more flights and more people crowded into the same space. On my last flight out of LaGuardia the congestion was nightmarish, the passengers that were boarding were spilling out of the boarding area into the way too narrow central aisle, making it difficult for arriving passengers to navigate their way out of the gate area.

In terms of your daughters life experiences, I can promise both of you that the experience of having a beer or coffee with a friend in the bar just outside of airport security is virtually identical to that of having a beverage at the bar in the gate area. So please donít lose sleep thinking that her life will be bereft of enrichment because she has been denied this experience.
  #71  
Old 01-10-2019, 03:29 PM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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Sorry for my IMHO statement, but the terrorists it stops are those who decided not to even try. And it is utterly impossible to know how many of those there have been.
That reminds me of the story of the old mountain man who drank moonshine every morning and told his wife that it was his "medicine." His wife remarks that she has never seen him sick and he replies that it just shows what good medicine it is.

You may be right, but at the cost of billions of dollars per year and untold freedoms, we should require something more than just that statement as that statement could be made about any utterly worthless program as well.

It would be like the city paying me $1 million per year to keep heroin off of my street. Then when the heroin level is low, medium, or even high on my street, I could argue that things would have been much, much worse without my skill.
  #72  
Old 01-10-2019, 04:02 PM
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Maybe you have some cites that arent Youtube videos?
Turn the audio speed up to 2X and close your eyes so you don't have to see the pictures.

HTH.
  #73  
Old 01-10-2019, 04:09 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Turn the audio speed up to 2X and close your eyes so you don't have to see the pictures.

HTH.
Or just maybe you could come up with some valid, checkable, quotable cites?
  #74  
Old 01-10-2019, 05:15 PM
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Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
...
So, I think it reasonable to look back almost twenty years later and ask if these billions of dollars are worth it. Not only the billions of dollars, but flying is just no longer fun anymore. I don't like having to waste two hours of my life by getting to the airport so damned early. My daughter will never get the experience of seeing her friend off at the gate, or having a beer or coffee with her friend at the gate before her flight.

Of course, these things are worth giving up if it means that people will be getting killed, but I am not convinced that is the case.
This

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Originally Posted by Ann Hedonia View Post
News Flash. Flying stopped being fun sometime in the 1970ís, well before 9/11. It happened at about the time air travel became affordable for the average person on a regular basis and planes turned into Greyhound buses with wings, only way smaller and way less comfortable.

And most of the airports I am familiar with started restricting access to the gate area to passengers only at around that time, again well before 9/11. In some of them it was a congestion issue more than security ó as more people started flying everywhere there were more flights and more people crowded into the same space. On my last flight out of LaGuardia the congestion was nightmarish, the passengers that were boarding were spilling out of the boarding area into the way too narrow central aisle, making it difficult for arriving passengers to navigate their way out of the gate area.

In terms of your daughters life experiences, I can promise both of you that the experience of having a beer or coffee with a friend in the bar just outside of airport security is virtually identical to that of having a beverage at the bar in the gate area. So please donít lose sleep thinking that her life will be bereft of enrichment because she has been denied this experience.
Yeah, I wasn't thinking so much that "flying should be fun", more that "flying shouldn't be miserable and dehumanizing.

Having a beer outside security is nothing like having a beer inside security, because you have the nagging worry of having to get through security, and not being certain you will be able to catch your plane. I once waited a very long time behind a woman with a "cheese knife", who quite reasonably point out that it wasn't sharp enough to cut flesh, but unreasonably thought that somehow the security guy would let something with "knife" in its name through security. Another time the TSA screener decided to spend 20 minutes examining my nail clipper. (Which was legal at the time, and he did eventually let it through, despite it having a file attached that, I dunno, might have scratched someone?)

It's not a huge deal for a fully competent adult that you can't bring friends with you to the gate, but it IS a huge deal for people like my daughter, who has an anxiety disorder and isn't very good at dealing with the world. Getting her to college would have been a hell of a lot easier if we could have taken her to her gate, and not dropped her off outside security.

And every one of those confiscated knives represents a financial loss to the person who accidentally brought it with them. My mother has had TSA steal about 4 small pocketknives, because she always carries one and forgets she has it. So she's had to buy new ones.

Just add up the time we all spend taking off our shoes and putting them on again. What's the economic value of that?

Is it worth is? I sincerely doubt it.
  #75  
Old 01-10-2019, 05:30 PM
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Big deal. That's making you sound like the guy who is chasing the young 'uns off your lawn. I recall when I could sit at home at night and choose from three reasonably decent television programs at 8 pm, rather than having to slog through hundreds of really poor television choices, only to decide that re-watching a movie will probably be more fun, if only I can remember which of my streaming services is showing it. And if you are finding it annoying to stand in line for endless hours, may I suggest that you simply pony up for TSA Pre-check, which is ridiculously quick in most airports.

The main issue here is whether or not TSA screening has any significant value in reducing/removing the threat of air terror (of ANY kind, not just hijackings; after all, a bomb in an airplane is not a hijacking). It is possible that the hyped-up screening is preventing such attacks; it is also possible that it is not preventing anything, either because no one is trying anything, nor would they try anything, or because other methods are weeding them out first. But given the laundry list of confiscated items that could do real damage if in the wrong hands, I'm comfortable with continuation of the screening pretty much as-is, and that's despite the fact that I tend to agree that it's more for "show" than for actual "effect".
(My bolding.)

I'd say it depends on what you'd call "air terror". The TSA may not be very good at stopping terrorist plots, for the various reasons listed in this thread; I'd say what they're best at is ensuring that when the drunken businessman in 32A finally loses his shit over the drunken tourist sitting in 32B who keeps hogging the damn armrest, their subsequent fistfight isn't a knife fight.

Whether or not their efforts are worth the billions we spend on them, I cannot say. But it seems to me their principle value (as opposed to their stated mission) lies in hindering non-terroristic violence.
  #76  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:52 AM
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Is it true that the additional screening is causing more deaths due to increased ground travel (and auto accidents)? This security blogger claims so, but I don't know enough about it to be certain.

Anecdotally, I've become so disillusioned with air travel that I take my own vehicle unless absolutely forced by job requirements and time. It seems likely a lot more are doing this.

Last edited by pullin; 01-11-2019 at 05:52 AM.
  #77  
Old 01-11-2019, 07:03 AM
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So, plane-attacking terrorists got very lucky--once. As a result we all take off our shoes.
Do they still make you do this in American airports? I don't recall ever having had to do this in European airports, except in Moscow (and even then, not in the last five years).
  #78  
Old 01-11-2019, 07:05 AM
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Is it true that the additional screening is causing more deaths due to increased ground travel (and auto accidents)? This security blogger claims so, but I don't know enough about it to be certain.
It's certainly possible. The rationale for allowing infants to be carried as unrestrained projectiles is that, if you make them travel in seats, more families will travel by car which is even less safe for the baby (never mind everyone else).

But you'd have to tease out how much of the increased lines etc. are due to the increased screenings as opposed to ~15 million additional passengers each year squeezing into airports that are mostly the same size as they were in 2001.

Last edited by Lord Feldon; 01-11-2019 at 07:07 AM.
  #79  
Old 01-11-2019, 07:11 AM
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But you'd have to tease out how much of the increased lines etc. are due to the increased screenings as opposed to ~15 million additional passengers each year squeezing into airports that are mostly the same size as they were in 2001.
I read the figure wrong, it's actually ~15 million more passengers a month.
  #80  
Old 01-11-2019, 09:13 AM
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Global air travel is increasing at 6% per year, compared to global population growth, which is 1.07% and decreasing. More people are travelling and fewer people are dying in planes. Someone is doing something right.
https://www.statista.com/statistics/...senger-demand/

Last edited by eburacum45; 01-11-2019 at 09:14 AM.
  #81  
Old 01-11-2019, 10:16 AM
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Do they still make you do this in American airports? I don't recall ever having had to do this in European airports, except in Moscow (and even then, not in the last five years).
Yup. Gotta stop that shoe bomber! And it makes people feel safe, I guess.

(except some international flights are governed by the arriving country's rules, so sometimes you don't have to if you are flying overseas.)

Last edited by puzzlegal; 01-11-2019 at 10:17 AM.
  #82  
Old 01-11-2019, 10:55 AM
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That's basically the question posted in the OP, though, isn't it?

Is TSA passenger screening itself largely responsible? Or something else? Maybe the terrorist repelling stone I wear around my neck? Would those dollars be better spent elsewhere?

The absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence. As of now, there's some fairly good but not conclusive evidence that TSA passenger screening is not efficient or particularly effective at stopping terrorist plots. So, is TSA passenger screening causative of the low level of passenger deaths or merely correlated?

And that appears to be where a lot of posters have been talking past each other. There appears to be the implication in several posts that doubting the efficacy TSA passenger screening is tantamount to doubting any and all aviation security measures. That's patently untrue from the responses so far.

The argument is rather that if there's a cause/effect link, you'd think there'd be better evidence from the testing and there's not. But if it's merely correlated, that means other security measures or other causes have been largely effective and the TSA screening itself is more for the psychological benefit that we're doing 'something'. That does have a certain value, but it's fair to ask about a cost/benefit for just a psychological benefit if it turns out that's the primary benefit of the screening.

For example, the Metrojet example from earlier in the thread in Egypt, which somehow was used as a example in favor of TSA passenger screening. TSA style passenger screening wouldn't have been successful at stopping the plot, since the prime suspects were employees of the airline and/or airport. Better security measures for personnel and in sensitive areas could have stopped it. And I imagine the vast majority of posters, even the ones who question the efficacy of the TSA itself, would agree with the need for heightened security and checks for aircraft and airport personnel.

TL;DR - aviation security good; Questionable if TSA itself contributes to aviation security
  #83  
Old 01-11-2019, 10:55 AM
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But they [TSA] are a law enforcement organisation.
They are not. TSA officers at airport checkpoints do not have police powers. If law enforcement is needed they call the police.

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There have not been any shoe bombers successfully getting onto airplanes since they started inspecting everyone's shoes. Evidently, this tactic has fallen out of favor with would-be terrorists, due to this approach.
Was this ever a tactic to begin with? I can find only a single reference to a shoe-bomb attempt, Richard Reid. I can find no information about even a single other shoe-bomb attempt that was foiled by TSA. You could say TSA has been successful in preventing shoe bombs, and you could also say the shoe bomb was a one-off that was never contemplated before or since, and the removal of shoes for screening is just a waste of time and money.
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  #84  
Old 01-11-2019, 11:06 AM
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...
TL;DR - aviation security good; Questionable if TSA itself contributes to aviation security
And I don't even question "TSA" per se, we need someone to man some sort of security at airports. What I question is the specific rules and rigamarole we have put up with since 9/11. Removing shoes. No small blades. (They keep weakening that, because security experts are in agreement that it's useless -- so now small scissors are allowed, even though scissors are really just two knives linked together.) No one without a ticket can go through security. Slow expensive scanning machines instead of cheap metal detectors. (At least we've moved from the nude-o-scan to the faster and less hazardous cartoon-people-readers.)

Some of the new security is probably good. Randomly screening a few passengers for recent contact with explosives, for instance. Maybe even the ban on liquids (although they PROMISED they would be able to distinguish potential explosives from other liquids years ago. ) The hardened door to the pilot's cabin is certainly good.

But there's so much. And the cost is so high, in time, money, and inconvenience. Can it possibly be worth it?
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:04 PM
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Some very good posts in this thread. I'd especially like to acknowledge "Stranger's posts, which I consider extremely well reasoned. After 9/11, strengthen cockpit doors, and include in preflight safety announcements an invitation for passengers to assist in subduing announced hijackers at request of flight staff, and your 9/11 problem is solved.

I recall an Atlantic article I read shortly after 9/11 which outlined multiple "terrorist" actions that could be readily done, much easier than accessing an airplane, which would have outsized economic impact. But we haven't seen those occur either.

Supporters of TSA will say ANY amount of cost/inconvenience is worth it if it saves a single life. I disagree. As was mentioned upthread, the money spent on TSA COULD be spent in other ways, which I believe would benefit more people than as currently spent. Moreover, the time spent by hundreds of thousands of travelers is not inconsequential.

Not a popular opinion, but our responses to 9/11 imposed FAR greater costs than the events of 9/11 themselves. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that even in the year of 9/11, traffic fatalities exceeded air deaths. Yet we keep driving. IMO, the loss of a certain number of planes/lives over a certain period could be outweighed by costs and the loss of liberty.

As I've advocated before (not ENTIRELY tongue in cheek!), perhaps we could address this in an economic manner. Charge more for high security flights - where everyone is strip searched. And have other flights where you sign a waiver and take your chances. Maybe issue everyone a gun to allow passengers to shoot back!
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  #86  
Old 01-11-2019, 01:20 PM
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that even in the year of 9/11, traffic fatalities exceeded air deaths. Yet we keep driving. IMO, the loss of a certain number of planes/lives over a certain period could be outweighed by costs and the loss of liberty.
Your statement is correct on the face of it (highway deaths in the US are at around 35,000 per year, trending down; the U.S. enjoyed a nine-year streak of no commercial air fatalities, until the Southwest engine disaster last year which killed one person). However, you are comparing two modes of transportation in a way that shows relative safety for that mode of travel per se, not for the potential for deaths caused by terrorism and what we should do to prevent it.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:22 PM
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Your statement is correct on the face of it (highway deaths in the US are at around 35,000 per year, trending down; the U.S. enjoyed a nine-year streak of no commercial air fatalities, until the Southwest engine disaster last year which killed one person). However, you are comparing two modes of transportation in a way that shows relative safety for that mode of travel per se, not for the potential for deaths caused by terrorism and what we should do to prevent it.
What difference does it make to you whether you or a loved one die in a terrorist attack, as opposed to a car accident?
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  #88  
Old 01-11-2019, 02:22 PM
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What difference does it make to you whether you or a loved one die in a terrorist attack, as opposed to a car accident?
Most car accidents are relatively random, while terrorist attacks are intentional. Just after 9/11 many opposed to stricter screening gave figures on the low probability of being killed by a terrorist. True, but terrorist acts are not stochastic. (Though being killed by one might be.)

The kind of non-random cause of accidents is DUI - and we don't have a big problem limiting the freedom of people to do that. We also spend a lot of money on airbags and the like which are totally useless to the vast majority of drivers. Until they aren't.

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Not a popular opinion, but our responses to 9/11 imposed FAR greater costs than the events of 9/11 themselves. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that even in the year of 9/11, traffic fatalities exceeded air deaths. Yet we keep driving. IMO, the loss of a certain number of planes/lives over a certain period could be outweighed by costs and the loss of liberty.
You can't compare the cost of prevention to the cost of what already happened. My field involved spending extra money on silicon to prevent those chips failing later. Screening is much like that. It is also the case that a disaster is useful in prodding people to take preventative measures.
You can compute whether the screening is worth it by comparing screening costs to the cost of a terrorist action multiplied by the probability of it occurring. There is a lot of room for argument there, but comparing the cost to the cost of things that already happened is invalid.
Standing in line does have a cost, but anyone feeling the cost is too high can buy faster access to the gate.
  #89  
Old 01-11-2019, 02:47 PM
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One of the questions I have for the effectiveness of TSA screening relates to the number of handguns seized.

One could argue that some of those are not absent minded people, but terrorists doing planning, testing defenses.

But if that is so, how many handguns are missed by TSA screening? Where are the terrorists acts from those? Maybe every case of a handgun found is just absent minded people (or people who deliberately carry guns for defense, rather than attack, ie, they want to be the hero if there is a hijacking). But can we tell? Is the screening having a net positive effect, or no effect at all? I don't know.
  #90  
Old 01-11-2019, 04:00 PM
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What difference does it make to you whether you or a loved one die in a terrorist attack, as opposed to a car accident?
You personally can do things to preventa auto accident. A safer car. Drive defensively. Modern safety electronics.

But you are helpless in the face of most terrorist attacks.
  #91  
Old 01-11-2019, 05:30 PM
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One of the questions I have for the effectiveness of TSA screening relates to the number of handguns seized.

One could argue that some of those are not absent minded people, but terrorists doing planning, testing defenses.
This is possible, but I think it's pretty unlikely for a number of reasons.

The first is that it's a crime to take a gun through an airport. Unless you think the TSA's success rate is abysmally low, that's a pretty big risk to take. You get fingerprinted and questioned. If you have any middle-east connections, you are likely to be highly scrutinized. That's a huge risk to take. People willing to carry out terrorist attacks are not easy to come by. Are you really going to take a risk of burning one of your operatives just to probe security?

A much much better plan if you actually wanted to do this test would be to take something that looks like a gun on X-ray but is clearly not a gun. Like, maybe you can find a gun-shaped metal box with chocolates in it or something.

Any remotely competent attempted terrorist is not going to plan an attack that requires just walking through security with a weapon that TSA is trained to look for.

It is possible that current screening is catching really dumb potential terrorists. But I expect that that would be trumpeted far and wide. Really dumb potential terrorists are also likely to leave lots of evidence of their plots that can be easily found with the sort of cursory investigation that you'd put into some dumbass who showed up at an airport with a gun.
  #92  
Old 01-12-2019, 04:02 AM
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Or just maybe you could come up with some valid, checkable, quotable cites?
Or maybe you could ... gasp ... do your own Googling. If it takes you longer than the time you spend nattering at me, you need to work on your Google skills.
  #93  
Old 01-12-2019, 04:39 AM
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A much much better plan if you actually wanted to do this test would be to take something that looks like a gun on X-ray but is clearly not a gun. Like, maybe you can find a gun-shaped metal box with chocolates in it or something.
If I was investigating, I would find that to be far more suspicious than carrying a real gun.

It is believable enough if a person tells a story that he always carries a gun in this particular bag for personal protection, and that before he came to the airport he was rushing around, throwing clothes in the bag and dammit, just completely forget to remove the gun from the bag before going to the airport. So sorry.

It is believable because this is exactly the case in almost all incidences of people caught with guns at the checkpoints. And IIRC, they are usually released and made to pay a civil fine of a few thousand dollars. For example https://www.foxnews.com/travel/passe...ooking-handgun this passenger faces fines of "up to" $13,000. The only time I've seen arrests for this is in locations like New York or New Jersey where carrying or owning the gun like this is illegal in this first instance, whether in the airport or outside on the street.

But if someone is carrying a metal gun-shaped chocolate tin, I might think that the passenger is simply incredibly dense, but for the reasons you stated, I would definitely be suspicious that he was testing the security. Maybe you could not detain him for anything, but you could get his name and start and investigation, staking out his house and whatnot to see who he hangs around with.

Last edited by UltraVires; 01-12-2019 at 04:42 AM.
  #94  
Old 01-12-2019, 06:40 AM
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... Maybe issue everyone a gun to allow passengers to shoot back!
A friend somewhat seriously suggested that each plane come equipped with baseball bats attached to the walls, that could be released by the pilot in the event of a terrorist attack.
  #95  
Old 01-12-2019, 09:28 AM
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A friend somewhat seriously suggested that each plane come equipped with baseball bats attached to the walls, that could be released by the pilot in the event of a terrorist attack.
Why am I picturing that this would end up like the church scene in Kingsmen?
  #96  
Old 01-12-2019, 03:16 PM
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Or maybe you could ... gasp ... do your own Googling. If it takes you longer than the time you spend nattering at me, you need to work on your Google skills.
Not my job to come up with cites to support your position.
  #97  
Old 01-12-2019, 08:37 PM
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It's not a huge deal for a fully competent adult that you can't bring friends with you to the gate, but it IS a huge deal for people like my daughter, who has an anxiety disorder and isn't very good at dealing with the world. Getting her to college would have been a hell of a lot easier if we could have taken her to her gate, and not dropped her off outside security.
Just an off-topic FYI -- I was able (post-9/11) to accompany my aunt to the gate without a ticket; she was starting to show symptoms of dementia at the time. Asked the agents at check-in, and they printed me up a not-a-ticket...


... Upon googling, this is called an "escort pass" or "gate pass," and it can apparently be used for accompanying passengers who are minor children or have a disability. (Also for meeting such people at their arrival gate.) I didn't need to present any documentation in my case -- my aunt was merely her adorably out-of-it self.

Policies vary by airline. Posters on Lifehacker suggest that asking nicely is a key tactic.

  #98  
Old 01-12-2019, 08:39 PM
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Just an off-topic FYI -- I was able (post-9/11) to accompany my aunt to the gate without a ticket; she was starting to show symptoms of dementia at the time. Asked the agents at check-in, and they printed me up a not-a-ticket...


... Upon googling, this is called an "escort pass" or "gate pass," and it can apparently be used for accompanying passengers who are minor children or have a disability. (Also for meeting such people at their arrival gate.) I didn't need to present any documentation in my case -- my aunt was merely her adorably out-of-it self.

Policies vary by airline. Posters on Lifehacker suggest that asking nicely is a key tactic.
Thanks! I might use that in the future.
  #99  
Old 01-12-2019, 09:51 PM
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I recall an Atlantic article I read shortly after 9/11 which outlined multiple "terrorist" actions that could be readily done, much easier than accessing an airplane, which would have outsized economic impact. But we haven't seen those occur either.

Supporters of TSA will say ANY amount of cost/inconvenience is worth it if it saves a single life. I disagree. As was mentioned upthread, the money spent on TSA COULD be spent in other ways, which I believe would benefit more people than as currently spent. Moreover, the time spent by hundreds of thousands of travelers is not inconsequential.
Do you happen to remember the name of that article? I'm pretty sure I read it and it was fascinating.

IIRC one of the examples was someone with a high powered rifle shooting at airplanes right as they took off in areas where the runway is right next to an urban ares. It most likely wouldn't do serious damage but cause enough panic and security measures well worth the cost in terms of terror efficiency.
  #100  
Old 01-12-2019, 10:59 PM
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Not my job to come up with cites to support your position.
I don't have a "position" ó I merely mentioned TSA's battle with milk as an overreach.

What is more interesting to me is your position in this little sub-discussion. Kindly explain that! I don't want to put words in your mouth but it appears your position is something like:
"I don't believe TSA failed to follow its policy on human milk. I don't believe that TSA workers, out of spite, made a mother miss her flight. Yes, you provided a YouTube link but I don't click on YouTubes; and I won't waste my time Googling for your story. If you want me to believe the claim, kindly find a non-video link."
Is that about it? If not, please help me understand.

In any event, I have no interest whatsoever in correcting your confusion about the TSA milk behavior. I am far more interested in understanding this little sub-discussion.
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