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Is aviation security mostly for show?

Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-08-2007

Is aviation security mostly for show?

An interesting article by By Bruce Schneier.
Bruce Schneier is an author and technologist who specializes in security. His books include "Applied Cryptography," "Beyond Fear" and "Schneier on Securbty"
http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/12/29/schneier.air.travel.security.theater/index.html
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Terrorism is rare, far rarer than many people think. It's rare because very few people want to commit acts of terrorism, and executing a terrorist plot is much harder than television makes it appear.
The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats.
A "movie-plot threat" is an overly specific attack scenario. Whether it's terrorists with crop dusters, terrorists contaminating the milk supply, or terrorists attacking the Olympics, specific stories affect our emotions more intensely than mere data does

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If we spend billions defending our rail systems, and the terrorists bomb a shopping mall instead, we've wasted our money. If we concentrate airport security on screening shoes and confiscating liquids, and the terrorists hide explosives in their brassieres and use solids, we've wasted our money. Terrorists don't care what they blow up and it shouldn't be our goal merely to force the terrorists to make a minor change in their tactics or targets.
Our current response to terrorism is a form of "magical thinking." It relies on the idea that we can somehow make ourselves safer by protecting against what the terrorists happened to do last time.
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 24-09-2008

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

I've always thought the most devastating place for a suicide bomber, is the security check in at a major airport.
It’s often very crowded with 3-400 folk squeezed in, there’s no security at the point of going in.
It would immediately bring the airport to a standstill (possibly for several days).
It would cost a fortune to sort out and implement something different.
Flying does not worry me, going through an airport check in does.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

As someone with some knowledge of airport security.
The answer to Santiago's question is...yes.
Airport security levels are always reactive, and as such are always much too late.
Experience; is something you gain, just after you needed it most.

When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you. But because in that brief moment while the coin is in the air. You suddenly know what you are hoping for.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 24-09-2008

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

SWMBO commented.
After the shoe bomber I was expected to remove my shoes at airport security.
Now we've had the underwear bomber..........I don't think I'll be flying this year.
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

I might make an exception Shocked Wink
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Midnight_Caller
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

[quote="Gordon Brown promises full body scanners at UK airports"]
Airports operator BAA said it would now install the machines "as soon as is practical" at Heathrow.
[Snip]
He declined to give specific details about timing or comment on extending the use of scanners to other airports, costs or the potential for passenger delays.
[Snip]
Full body scanners, which produce "naked" images of passengers, remove the need for "pat down" searches.
However they have raised concerns about privacy, with campaigners saying they are tantamount to a "strip search".

[quote="By Patrick from No DPI"]
Even with their failures services like the Eurostar are seeming more and more attractive compared to flying. Why allow yourself to be treated like a potential bomber every time you travel and have your body filled with xrays after you've made it through queues that have been inflated due to this sort of idiocy?  (not only would the explosives not have been picked up by such a machine, but the man was already on watch lists and known to the authorities)
Watt I agree with 100%   Angry
Watt do you think about this full body scanner?
pierre_pierre
Grafter
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Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

can you try and imagine a nutty bomber letting go in the middle of the Channel tunnel, it was bad enough with a simple fire let alone a bomb, Bring on the scanners and more security please.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 02-10-2008

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

With the new high speed lines we will be getting - as far as Manchester, Newcastle and Edinburgh and Glasgow, Cardiff - with direct trains to the continent - I'm not sure they are planning scanners at every station?.
One of the reasons I gave up domestic airlines if at all possible, was I could get a taxi to the station and be on board the train to London within 30 minutes of leaving home. No horrible airports. And it only took 1 hour longer door to door, and you can relax onboard, have a meal in restaurant car etc etc., and work on laptop on the internet, email etc..
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

Airport security is a scam and just done to make the travelling public feel that something is being done.  It always makes me laugh when they ask if I've been given anything to carry on board by someone and if I have anything sharp on me.  If I was a terrorist what would they expect me to say Undecided
Community Veteran
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

conspiracy theory coming up:
too many people are flying and it's not good ecologically, nor environmentally.  more lolly will be generated within britain if fewer people go abroad, especially by flying, if they find somewhere nice to stay on the mainland.  scotland and wales will soon be fully independent and will qualify as 'foreign' for those wishing to be daring and can be got to quite easily on the ground.
airlines will have to compete more effectively to lure the few holiday makers left and the government can reap the rewards in taxes.
haven't fully thought it through, but others will be able to flesh it out.  have a bash at it and let's see where it goes.
Community Veteran
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

A typical reaction to airline security is the issue of having to remove shoes at security.  The 'shoe bomber' Richard Reid tried to blow up a plane using items in his shoe 8 years ago.  As a result since then millions of people have had to remove their shoes and have them X-Rayed.  I wonder how many people have been found with explosives Huh A complete waste of time IMO.
On a recent trip to Spain I noticed that Stansted had stopped asking passengers to remove their shoes.  The Spanish airport on my return was still checking them.
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

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With the new high speed lines we will be getting

Not sure I need high speed trains, I am happy if the train departed and arrived ontime according to the schedules, not effected by weather conditions, sufficient trains, I get a seat, and the trains are met by busses at the end.
Think I'd prefer money spent on a reliable 'joined up' transport system.
If the train trip was due to take 6 hours so be it, making it take 4 hours is hardly any benifit if the bus timetable are all adrift
If Norwegian National Railways can do it with a larger land mass, more difficult terrain, worse conditions and a smaller population we're doing something wrong.
http://www.nsb.no/ (website in english as it identifies language, time table and ticket purchasing on same simple site)
50% concessionary discounts regardless of nationality, just proof during journey
The train Bergen/Oslo takes 8 hours for the same distance from London/Edinburgh, the train leaves Bergen at  7.58, it always has done as long back as I can remember, it arrives in Oslo at 15:59.
Only drawback is the Newcastle - Bergen Ferry  has been stopped.
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

Quote from: artmo
On a recent trip to Spain I noticed that Stansted had stopped asking passengers to remove their shoes.  The Spanish airport on my return was still checking them.

I think they seem to target some flights more than others for how thorough the security checks are. But in the last 3 months there was certainly some easing of the 'remove your shoes rule'.
Clearly this is all for show, which others have said.
What annoys me the most is, this money could be spent on far better causes such as heating for the elderly, which will be of benefit to somebody, whereas these new scanners are going to be a waste of money ... the fact that this latest guy was 'known to the authorities' is the biggest wake up call for Brown, not the one he wrote on the number10 website. Sad
Will be travelling to the US in early Feb, I have to carry some odd looking electronic circuit boards as part of my job, this will be interesting ... Wink
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Community Veteran
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

I'm not due to go to the US until March so would be pleased to hear your experiences of the security checks in the light of the recent problems.  What gateway are you using?
Community Veteran
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Re: Is aviation security mostly for show?

Landing in Seattle, fortunately I dont have to make an internal flights this time, those are the worst for not liking the contents of my bags.
Saying that though, having guns drawn on me in Munich a year before 9/11 was the funniest one! Well it was funny for me and I could not blame them for it was a strange hand made metal box containing some spaghetti fashion wires, what I carry now does not look that bad in comparison. Wink
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