by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
security, state secrets, terrorism, tsa

Whether Or Not The TSA Has Ever Caught A Terrorist Is Apparently A State Secret

from the which-means-no dept

We asked recently if there was any evidence, ever, that the TSA's security procedures prevented an attack on an airplane. Last week the TSA claimed, without any details, that its procedures had stopped 130 "prohibited, illegal or dangerous items" from getting on airplanes in the last year. But it provides no details. And, in a day when a bottle of water and nail clippers are considered "prohibited," it's difficult to judge if this actually means anything.

Over at Slate, Juliet Lapidos tries to dig into the question, but the TSA won't point out a single specific case claiming it's a "national security" issue. Huh? Actually telling us whether or not the naked scans and crotch grabs catch anyone is a state secret? That seems likely to mean that the answer is, no, they have not caught anyone or stopped any attempted attack, and they're just too embarrassed to say so. In fact, Lapidos points out that, in years past, the TSA has publicly announced when it "caught" someone -- as in the one time, nearly three years ago, it found a guy who had enough materials in his (checked) suitcase to make a pipe-bomb. Of course, there wasn't an actual pipe bomb in the suitcase, so it wasn't going to blow up the plane or anything.

So, in effect, it seems pretty clear that the security screening process isn't catching anyone. Of course, supporters might claim that terrorists are too scared off by the screenings, so that's why we're safe. But that makes little sense. As Jeffrey Goldberg showed a few years back, it's quite easy to get things past the security screenings if you really want to. This is security theater, plain and simple. And the TSA must know that. Which is why it's a "state secret."

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  1. identicon
    TheStupidOne, 22 Nov 2010 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Re:

    The middle east has not been terrorizing the world any more than any militarily advanced region has terrorized the world, except in recent history. What you are referring to would be called war. Motivated by religion, economics, or a simple desire for power it is still war. You see that exact same pattern over and over throughout history. Think the Romans, the English, Genghis Kahn's Mongols, the Incans, Mayans, Russians, and Americans. The people who were conquered and oppressed fought back however they could. When Hitler conquered France there was an underground fighting force that you could probably call terrorists. The oppressed people strove to make their oppressors feel pain, they fought dirty, killed innocents, and did whatever it took to drive away their oppressors.

    This current incarnation of that pattern is very different but fundamentally the same. The terrorists see America and the west as simply being too powerful. Our culture is taking over the world, our military is policing the globe, our technology and economy put theirs to shame, and our religions (or lack thereof) makes us infidels in their eyes. They see us as the enemy and they are jealous, afraid, and hate us. They are fighting however they can. And while I doubt that they only fight because of our actions in recent history, our actions have a lot to do with it.

    /off topic rant

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