by Timothy Lee
Fri, Nov 16th 2007 2:12pm
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.
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