If you thought taking your shoes off and putting your liquids in little plastic bags was going to stop terrorists from smuggling bombs onto planes, think again. A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that investigators were able to smuggle bomb components through TSA checkpoints
without being caught. This isn't much of a surprise; a similar test
last year found that the TSA caught only 2 out of 22 people who tried to smuggle dummy weapons through checkpoints in a Newark airport. This is not really surprising. The TSA's strategy has been basically reactive: the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters, so those get banned. Somebody tries to smuggle explosives onboard in his shoes
, so the TSA makes us all take our shoes off. Somebody tries to smuggle liquid explosives
onto a plane, so the TSA bans bottled water. There's no reason to think these rules actually make us safer
, but they do allow the TSA to pretend they're "doing something" about terrorism. A TSA spokeswoman insists that this wasn't a fair test because they only got by one of their "19 layers of security." I wouldn't be surprised if the other 18 layers were as ineffectual than the others, but one thing that can be said for them is that they're a lot less annoying for travelers. How about if the TSA stops wasting resources forcing 5-year-old girls to take their shoes off, and shift those resources to the sort of in-depth police work that led to the foiling of last year's liquid explosives plot.