Monday, December 28, 2009

Plugging the Leaks

The quick imposition and then relaxation of new security rules after this most recent failed bombing attempt is vexing air travelers.

"Travelers on incoming international flights said that during the final hour, attendants removed blankets, banned opening overhead bins, and told passengers to stay in their seats with their hands in plain sight."
In-flight security rules eased*
(Where the Hell were they flying into? San Quentin?)

The problem isn't the fact that this all comes of as being very reactive, rather than proactive, although I don't know of any successful long-term security operation that's always chasing what the opposition last did. It's that it comes off as mindlessly reactive - simply banning whatever the last guy did, rather than trying to understand the greater hole in the process and working to close it. Making everyone fly with their hands clamped to the armrests seems somewhat less important than finding an intelligent way to make sure that people don't bring bombs onto the planes is the first place.

Security analysts like Richard Clark seem content to work to scare people into accepting more expensive and more intrusive security measures, as if being naked and broke provides absolute security (he made his comments on Good Morning America - the video can't be linked to directly), and I guess I understand that mindset. But it seems to work from the idea that through ever greater intrusiveness and expense, we can maintain a 100% success rate - which, realistically speaking, is manifestly impossible. Granted, that's a hard sell, but I don't think that pretending otherwise is workable forever.

* Note that given the way the Seattle Times updates stories, you might follow this link to a new (but related) story with completely different copy. They get on my nerves with that.

1 comment:

David Page said...

You make a good point here. A lot of what we do in terms of global security is worked out on the basis of the last major threat that was uncovered. Still, I can't blame those who implement this approach. When you try to think of everything but then someone surprises you with something else, can you be blamed for focusing on the newly discovered weak point?