Mar 082011
 

Tsa-pat-down-old-ladyb Texas – the Terrorist Friendly State.  That's not a tag line many Texans would expect or want to see.  But it would be an unintended outcome (rather than the primary purpose) of legislation now working their way through the Texas legislature; a pair of bills seeking to ban whole body scanners from airports, and to define TSA style intrusive pat-downs as sexual assault in the state's penal code.

I don't like the X-ray whole body scanners either (but I am quite happy with the other type of whole body scanning that uses much safer radio waves rather than possibly dangerous X-rays), and while I've not yet had to endure one of the new style TSA gropes pat-downs, I'm sure I'd not like one of those either.

Furthermore, neither is particularly effective.  The X-ray scanners can be tricked by a skilled terrorist (see the resource links below), and even the most intrusive of gropes may still miss some items, particularly if internally concealed.

However, and here's the real problem – an attempt to prevent the TSA from using these strategies will detract from overall air travel safety unless the TSA pro-actively replaces these limited-effectiveness measures with broader and more effective measures.

And that's the real Achilles Heel of this misguided attempt by TX to force the TSA to improve its act.  They can't force the TSA to replace this final point defense screening process with broader measures extending way out of the airport – measures that aren't even part of the TSA area of responsibility.  That's what the TX legislators should be most concerned about – improving the overall effectiveness of aviation safety.

And one final comment.  As this article reports, there seems to be a high probability that TX is unable to regulate or control the actions of the TSA, which is a federal agency.

So the legislation may end up being ineffective and a total waste of time anyway – but what else is new?  Or, even worse, if the Texas legislature can prevail and prevent the TSA from using patdowns and body scanners, without requiring them to substitute these procedures with valid alternate procedures, where do you think terrorists will choose to fly from in the future?

Resources

Finding Hidden Explosives – An Impossible Task

The 'new' security risk for airplanes, we are told, is terrorists who smuggle explosives onto a plane with a view to blowing the plane up in mid air.

So we are forced to be electronically stripped naked, and/or given exceedingly intimate pat-down body searches, ostensibly so the security screeners can check if we have any hidden explosives or not.

Unfortunately, this doesn't work.  Here's all that you need to know about the charade we are now all being forced to participate in when going through airport 'security'

Alternatives to Present Airport Security Procedures

Following on from the preceding article about finding hidden explosives, it is clear that our present airport security methodology is totally broken and needs a complete rethink.

This multipart series offers some possible alternate approaches

TSA Agent Test Smuggles Gun Many Times Through Body Scanner

Not only do the new scanners possibly give you a dangerous dose of radiation, it seems they can't even find a pistol hidden on your body.

How to Smuggle Guns and Bombs Past an Airport Whole Body Imaging Scanner

In addition to the practical reality in the previous item, here is information about a scholarly paper that explains why and how the X-ray scanners can be tricked into not 'seeing' explosives hidden in plain sight on our person.

  3 Responses to “Texas – the Terrorist Friendly State?”

  1. I applaud Texas in taking action to ban what you have destined as dangerous, invasive and ineffective security measures. Perhaps, when this legislation is passed in TX, then NJ, WA, NH and HI the TSA will stop relying on useless dangerous technology and use effective techniques. I disagree that the “millimeter” scanner is safe. There is scientific evidence the waves shred DNA.
    I

  2. I would like to correct one point on security. There have been ZERO airline passengers setting off a bomb on a US Domestic flight in 49 years. In 1962, a passenger set off a dynamite bomb in a towel holder in a lavatory. Since then, let me make this clear, there have been ZERO bombs set off by a US Domestic airline passenger.
    This is the risk you are balancing off with naked scanners that don’t work (they didn’t detect guns in Dallas/Ft.Worth as you know, and if you can’t find a gun, how do you find an irregularly shaped plastic explosive material?).
    So, the risk is as close to zero as you will find. ZERO bombs in 49 years on a US Domestic flight. I might add that liquid explosives were used in the 1980s in a Brazilian passenger jet, yet somehow we survived for 20 years in the US without any passenger initiated bombs using liquid.
    I will tell you where terrorists seem to get on planes, and that is from other countries but ONLY if they are psychologically impaired people (following brainwashing techniques or suicidal) AND if their father calls the US to warn our government and the government lets them board a plane and fly to the US.
    If more terrorists were breast-cancer victims like Alaskan Representative Sharon Cissna or if they travelled by train to Savannah and reached their destination after travel, then they would likely be discovered.
    So, Texas will be my new hero state when they pass the laws to outlaw acts already illegal in Texas – child pornography, battery, and kidnapping (unlawful restraint for illegal warrentless searches).
    If anyone still finds the 0 bombings in 48 years to be too high a risk, I suggest you first help outlaws guns which would definitely reduce risk of death for you in our country – much more than the TSA is doing. It also lets you start eliminating the 2nd amendment as you work your way up the list to the 4th amendment, which of course aids and abets terrorists who want to use fear to control your actions.

  3. Hey, Jeff – no fair! You’re forcing me to defend the TSA. 🙂
    Well, actually, not so much defend as merely to parrot what their response to this might be. They might suggest the reason for no bombs on US domestic flights is an indication of the sublime success of their security screening programs, and they might go on to say that if they discontinued these programs, then terrorists would rush to board planes with bombs, box cutters, and guns, etc.
    It is certainly something to consider – the only attacks on US planes after 9/11 have been on flights originating from outside the US. Maybe the TSA is good for something after all?

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