i know the big post 9/11 security report was released today, but i haven’t had a chance to read any summaries of it yet. i was too busy getting ready to leave on a trip for seattle. i wish i would have been prepared enough to set a copy downloading while i was packing. anyhow i saw the chronicle headline saying something how the authors aren’t too impressed by the state of american security.

well, duh. those of us who travel a decent amount and/or have enough tech knowledge or street smarts to understand security have been saying this pretty much for 5 years. nearly every “security” measure we see is simply for show. it’s unlikely they are deterring terrorists (there are plenty of security measures we don’t see that i’m sure are keeping enemies on the run in addition to terrorizing a few innocent people too). airport security is especially shit. allow me to demonstrate with an experience from today’s trip…

so there was no one at the airport when i got there today. it was deserted. there were a bunch of people waiting by the electronic checkin stations, but no one actually using them. i asked the people in line, who just stood there looking dumb, and went around them to check myself in. it took 2 tries for the system to find my flight, but i got my boarding pass with no special security codes on it. i was psyched.

there was no line to get to the security check at all. i ducked under the rope and walked right up to chick who checks id. while going from there to the metal detectors the TSA guard already starts spouting instructions at me. i tell him i’m an old hand at this and know the routine. only this time they broke my routine. for the first time ever, they made me take off my belt – my belt! and asked me to take off my shoes. i wear sambas through security because they have no metal in them. i rarely have to take them off. but i guess since i was the only dude they had to check, they’d be thorough. i asked if they wanted me to take off my pants too. the dude at my metal detector made an awesome ugly face. i laughed.

i empty my pockets, get out 2 laptops, and dump all the crap on the conveyor belt, and walk through. they’re hypmotised by my newly laser etched powerbook and a bit jealous of the fact that i have 2 with me (one’s for johnny). on the other side i ask why i had to remove my belt, i’ve never had to do that before. they said it was because all the metal studs would set the detector off, because SFO has some of the most sensitive equipment in the US and it gets calibrated twice a day. they say this as i’m putting my belt back on. and as i do i feel my keys hanging off my belt loop. i just walked through the metal detector with a huge steel key clip and at least 5 keys and it did not buzz. nor did the guard manning the detector or anyone else around notice this hanging off my belt.

i chuckle to myself while the guards continue to explain to me how awesomely sensitive their equipment is and distracting themselves with the fact that i’m carrying two fairly new powerbooks. security my ass. a little distraction, timing and confidence and anyone could get through that checkpoint with much more dangerous shit. i even stopped to flagrantly loll about in front of two armed customs agents standing at my gate just to see if anyone would make any gestures as i walked away from the checkpoint. negatory. i am not a terrorist. but if i travel enough to see the weaknesses in the system, surely any terrorist would do a little research and see the same weaknesses, or even bigger ones.

i wish that the US would stop trying to institute these airport security policies that are obviously just for show and would never deter anyone with real intent. i wish our airport security was more like that of europe. smarter agents, bigger guns, more efficient check points. our security isn’t doing much to help anyone (except maybe smart terrorists who could take advantage of the false sense of security at airports.) that being said. i still fly. often. i don’t fear flying at all. i don’t fear my plane getting hijacked. i don’t fear crashes. i love flying more than any other type of traveling.


One Response to “in-security”

  1. 1 Dan

    If it’s all for show, don’t you think that is how terrorists are deterred? I walk through the WTMD (Walk Through Metal Detector) all the time with keys and coins in my pockets and it doesn’t go off. The reason they ask you to take your belt off is just in case it’s made of lead or something that may set it off. If you had set it off you would be standing there getting hand-wanded and patted down. They do these things (like ask you to take off your shoes most times) to try to keep you from setting off the WTMD because if you do then it means more work (pat-downs.) Do you WANT to get patted down?

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