Current security measures unnecessary and undesirable.

My proposition is that many of the most obvious security measures in the US today are unnecessary and undesirable.

Consider the last time you traveled via airplane. What were you required to do, and what did that protect you against?

I contend that current airline searches are excessive in terms of any reasonable goal. They are an over-reaction to an isolated event. 9/11 was undeniably horrible, but could have been prevented by far less than current security. Namely, strenghtening cockpit doors and refusing to open them. Everything else beyond a single passenger carry-on screening takes us farther down the path of diminishing marginal returns.

I also see several costs associated with the current measures.

They direct too many resources towards what our enemy - to the extent our enemy exists - did in the past, rather than directing those resources towards what terrorists might do in the future.

They will discourage people from flying, and cause economic harm to the airlines and travel-related businesses.

As they are not aimed at any specific reasonable threat, they foster an unfocused fear among Americans.

They create a false sense of security, as they emphasize the appearance of a significant effort, as opposed to less obvious potentially more effective measures. In effect, they are primarily an exercise in public relations.

I feel similarly about security in and around many large office buildings.

Anyone out there agree/disagree?

You’re kidding, right?

There was an article recently mentioning that most of the 9/11 Terrorists would have gotten thru current security measures and that European Passport wielding terrorists like the Shoe Bomber (British) would also have gotten thru.

Newsweek also had a quick column on a reporter breezing thru New York Security Guards easily with a Fake ID. Really funny actually. He calls them Rent a Cops.

Travellers just getting a connection in US territory are now required to have a VISA too… which means Miami and NY airports will eventually lose large amounts of passengers that will start using other airports for connections. That means less money and business for the US. Miami will probably lose its position as the “capital” of Latin America too.

Students going to US universities will drop too... the brain drain should be quite significant in the medium and long term. American high tech and other industries rely a lot on imported brains. US universities also make a load of money from foreigners.... expect US colleges to increase prices or lower quality.

Not at all, unless you are referring to the hilarity resulting from my misspelling of “strengthening.”

Thank you for your contribution to this discussion.

There are some security measures that are a little silly. The “grueling interrogation” when you buy the ticket comes to mind.

Other stuff like metal detectors are a must-have. If nothing else, they limit the number of morons or psychopaths who think it is appropriate to bring an Uzi on a plane.

Dinsdale, I would have to say that I agree with you for the most part. I cannot say that I fully agree with you because the PR aspect of it all does have a certain importance to getting the country up and going again. But yes, I think that sadly we are like the proverbial dutch boy with his finger in the leaking dike. We have what to all apearances is a mighty effective finger in one whole, while about 1000 other holes are opening all over the place, particularly in those places where the next attack are most likely, such as seaports. I actually feel safer on an airplane right now than I do in my home on the outskirts of DC.

I’ve been waiting for someone to illustrate just HOW the current security measures will protects us. The 9-11 hijackers all had tickets and legitimate ID, so how does asking me for my ID and my boarding pass make me safer? And the change in carry-on baggage policy (used to be 2 + 1, now it’s 1 + 1)…what does that get us except fewer fights about the overhead storage space?

I certainly believe we need to check baggage to keep weapons off of planes–there are wackos out there and I don’t want one as my seat-mate, but as for organized, well-planned attempts, I don’t see what the current measures accomplish.

Except, as has been said, making most people feel that we are DOING something.

The constant harrasing of Arab Americans and anyone else that appears Arab is making any future will be informants or denouncers totally averse to helping out security forces.

Only thru timely information provided by sympathetic Arabs or spies will these plots be stopped.

Dinsdale I agree with you, and have had discussions with friends to that effect. I was/am of the opinion that airports should have been shut down immediately until we were sure that the situation was under control, relatively speaking. After that, we should have made strides to return to normal as soon as possible. All of the extra “security” we have is totally irrelevant, since I am of the (uninformed) opinion that it was highly unlikely that we would be immediately attacked again. If terrorist groups had the desire to attack with a massive, concerted effort, I feel it would have been done long before now. There is nothing special I am aware of that could make our era such a “prime-time” for massive terrorist activities. If there is, of course, I would like someone to come and elaborate on why.

While I agree with the OP, I would also comment that security measures should not be restricted only to preventing the exact threats that have succeeded in the past. Asking for tickets and ID to access the boarding areas reduces the number of people with access to the gates. I don’t think it is worthwhile, though. Flying has become such a pain that I’d now rather drive 5 hours than fly.

The fourth plane that went down on 9-11 proves that the security is completely unnecessary. 9-11 was a one off. You can’t hijack a plane if the passengers rise up against you and the pilot won’t open the cockpit door.

Prior to 9-11 a hijacking was extremely rare and in the US virtually violence free.

I am fairly sure that 19 people with box cutters would NOT have got through security at most European airports at the time of 9/11. Thus searching and metal detection in itself is surely a good thing (I flew all over the US in August '91 and wasn’t searched or scanned once). Remember, there have been hijacks for decades; each security measure is in place to counter a previous security hole.

I find some of the security measures half arsed and pointless.
Just before “Georges spring break '03”, I was in Stansted airport. they were making people check in all “carry on” luggage. With the notable exception of Ladies handbags. or even any bag carried by a woman.

When I checked in, I asked the representative why all hand luggage had to be checked in, with the exception of ladies luggage (some of these were certainly not handbags).

Her answer “Haven’t you been reading the news sir? We’re going to war in a few weeks!”.

It still doesn’t make sense to me.

That isn’t a security measure. It’s a cost-saving/revenue generator. If you have extra luggage (and this has always been the official rule) you have to pay for it. I think the average is around US$60 a bag. By lowering the official allowed bags they can charge an extra $60 for the extra bags.

I aggree with the spirit of the OP though, there are WAY to many security rules on flights now. The other day I had my ‘Swiss Army Card ™’ confiscated because it had a letter opener an inch freaking long in it. While I will openly admit that it is possible to kill or threaten someone with it, I find it highly suspect to say that I could hijaak a plane with it. If I could, I would be highly disappointed in my fellow Americans. Ditto for Toenail Clippers, and beard scissors, et cetera. It would be easier for me to kill someone with a shoestring than with one of those.

If I really wanted to get a blade on the plane I wouldn’t be trying to sneak a letter opener on board. I would just buy a ceramic blade, or make a shiv with plastic and glass or something. I mean, it goes through metal detectors, and if you put it in the right place won’t show up in a pat down either. Of course, again, I would be very disapointed if other passengers let someone take over the plane with a freaking knife.

Some of the rules however make TOTAL sense. Like taking steak knives out of Airport Resturants. I mean, when I saw this happen it was like a big cartoon DUH! came out of nowhere and hit me on the head. Who thought that it was a good idea to supply people with 7inch blades AFTER they passed through security.

The post-9/11 travel restrictions on people of Arab-ish descent are unacceptable.

For example, Maher Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian citizen, was travelling via America (not TO America, crucially) back to his home in Ottawa. He was detained by American officials and sent to Syria, where he has been held, without charge, since last fall.

And I say “Arab-ish” because of the case of Berna Cruz, an Indian-born Canadian citizen also travelling through the US on a Canadian passport. Officials thought her passport looked “funky” and that her name didn’t sound Indian, confiscated and destroyed it and deported her to India.

In anecdotal news, a Jordanian friend of mine, in Canada on a student visa, got a job interview in Michigan and was not permitted a visa to cross the border. Despite the fact that his wife lives in Toronto, and that the company that wanted to interview him was willing to sign anything necessary to get him over there.

Worse, a Palestinian friend in Canada on a student visa, was accepted into Harvard University but denied a student visa to the US - despite Harvard’s best efforts. His education was thus screwed.

Pakistani refugees in the US made a massive run for the border when US immigration officials cracked down on them. Border rules were amended so that they could not cross right away, they had to “check in” and make an appointment for the next few weeks. So if officials found them in the intervening “few weeks” they could be deported.

These are (to me) unacceptable violations of human rights. People are forbidden to travel and subject to untold abuses by officials because of where they come from, what they look like, or simply a whim. I shiver to think of all the stories that we haven’t heard about (I’m sure Eva Luna could tell us more), and I continue to be disgraced by the fact that these rights are getting trampled so horrifically and that it doesn’t seem to matter to the public because they are merely “refugees” or “immigrants” or “Arabs.”

How can we hope to teach the Arab world about democracy and human rights, when we treat Arabs that are unlucky enough to cross the US-Canada border with so little respect?

Although “what I could get through security with” is a whole different thread, I’ll put in my $.02. I always take a guitar with me when I travel. Most of the time I take it through security and then gate check it. With a B string and a couple of pieces of wood I can make a garotte that will take someone’s head off–much nastier, more dangerous and faster than a 1-inch blade. There are a dozen other ways one could cause havoc on an aircraft without sizable metal weapons.

I continue to believe that current aiport security is to make people feel that something is being done.

that may be true, but you can blow it up. What if the intention is not to fly it into a building but to blow it or disable it up above a large city?

I was recently in an airport when I escorted my daughter to her plane. He was a travelling minor and I was suprised they allowed me to go with her to the gate. All it needed was a slip of paper and my ID.

I am not a frequent flyer. I dont understand these unbearable hassles that people here complain about. I took my shoes off to go thru the metal detector which was novel but i just wish they had some sort of carpet down. I emptied my pockets, put my belt in there just in case, showed them my cell phone worked, I breezed thru there. No hassles no worries no issues.

The point of these security measures is to keep any would be terrorist guessing as to what they have to go go thru. Some may be superfluous and some may be downright ineffective but its just one more thing for any terroris to get by and anyone contemplating killing themselves is not going to be cool as ice. Its the stressed out and indignant people that are the probable suspects. Consider it a filter. It may not get all of the impurities out but it sure gets most of them.

The problem is not so much in the minute or so that it takes to go through security when it is your turn, but the long, long line you can be in waiting to get to security. Also, because you cannot accurately predict which occasions will result in long waits, you have to assume that it might happen any time and therefore go to the airport earlier or risk missing your flight. So the whole process of traveling by air now takes longer, and you may be on your feet shuffling in line for some time. Doing this repeatedly is not fun.

The longest most overbearing line I had to stand in at the airport had nothing to do with airport security. I had to go thru customs. That long boring line after several hours of flying is slow mental torture. I can see why how this would present as a problem if travellers were subjected to this when they are tired and uncomfortable but during the start of a trip is not altogether inexcusable.

Most of the restaurants and venues are inside the gate after security checks so its not like youre stuck in an area completely devoid of stress relievers. I wonder how those vendors get security checked?

Good news for the traveler is that there are so few people flying now that lines have gone down. wait time is not that long really.

I think that airport security should be run by the military at every turn of the draw. We should also take a very good look at El-Al and how they do their security from start to finish.

You don’t see anyone hijacking thier planes do you?

There should also be an air-marshal on every damn flight. Tack it on to the ticket cost in a tax if you have to.

You wont here me complain not one bit…

There is no question that things could be streamlined and done much better. But this is one of the most important secuirty measures we have and it needs to be done right.

I do think that the little 9/11 stunt could be used again as far as the hi-jacking goes, now what they would do with the plane after that who knows…

All I know is I saw enough the first time and I dont want to see anymore.