The Airport Security Measures we go through right now for passengers are not designed to make air travel safe, they are designed to make us feel safe.

Everything changed on 9/11.  We were attacked and the answers we were given were to federalize airport security through the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security supposedly because the federal government does things better than the private sector.  So we all began to go through the long lines and security process allowing our bags to be x-rayed before checking them and some random additional scrutiny just prior to boarding.  Some people even noticed that many times the first person who stood up to board would be searched.  This was reactive, not pro-active.

Then along came Richard Reid the shoe bomber.  He tried and failed to blow up a plane with some explosives cleverly hidden in his shoe and now we all must remove our shoes for screening.  Reactive.

Then the London police arrested over twenty suspects in a liquid bomb plot to take down several international flights with liquid explosives.  Now we can only carry small amounts of liquid through security in our carry on luggage.  Reactive.

Most recently Abdulmutallab tried to blow up a plane with explosives concealed in his underwear.  Does this mean we will be forced to show our underwear for inspection now?  Time will tell.  For now certain measures have been taken including limiting the availability of restroom facilities on flights and when you may have something on your lap during the flight.  Still reactive.

Abdulmutallab was flying without a passport, paying cash for a one way ticket without luggage of any sort and his own father was reporting that he was seeking to wage jihad.  These seem to be more serious considerations than what he may have had in his pants, but the lesson the TSA seems to take from this is that everyone is now a suspect for hiding bombs in their pants.  Wrong lesson.

The reactions to these ongoing security failures is showing a pattern of letting our enemies show us how we are vulnerable or other creative ways that security can be circumvented and then we act surprised, shocked, and afraid of our enemies while making air travel even more bothersome for people who are no security risk at all.

Real security is an aware population that pays attention to other travelers.  The shoe and underwear bombers were stopped by people on the planes, not the government measures instituted to protect us.  Real security would involve screening people, not things.  We should not be taking fingernail clippers, nail files, 2-inch pocket knives, and other mostly harmless things from law abiding people.  People are the danger more than the things they carry.

There are several news accounts over several years of guns making it on board including an unlocked case of M-16’s, people walking through to boarding unscreened, and luggage not being screened because it is just too much work to screen each an every piece of luggage.  There are significant and ongoing security failures even with the purported professionalism created by federalizing security measures.

The motions we go through to get on a plane and the over-reaction when things go wrong are not providing the security we believe we have.  It is a fancy and expensive theater for public consumption designed to make us feel safe and that the government will take care of us.

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