Airport screening doesn’t improve safety, studies find (with video) Comment on this post ↓
July 30th, 2013 by Warren Swil

Hassles at security

checkpoints are just

theater of the absurd

A passenger is “up in arms” at a security screening checkpoint at an airport somewhere. Click image to enlarge.

YOU DONT HAVE TO BE a frequent flyer to find the so-called “security” screening process at airports in the U.S. a major headache.
Everyone ­– infants, grandparents, quadriplegics – has to take off shoes, unbuckle belts and put laptops in separate containers.
The lines are long and unpredictable.
It doesn’t have to be that way. It is time for a reassessment.


IN A NEWS RELEASE on July 19, the TSA announced a new program for pre-screening certain passengers.
In TSA Launches Application Program for TSA Precheck it says: “The TSA announced today that it will add a new process allowing more U.S. citizens to enroll in TSA Precheck, an expedited screening program that allows pre-approved airline travelers to leave on their shoes, light outerwear and belt, keep their laptop in its case and their 3-1-1 compliant liquids/gels bag in a carry-on in select screening lanes.”
Well, it’s about time. But its too little, too late and too expensive.

The web site of Science Daily with the scathing report on airport screening ineffectiveness. Click image to enlarge.

“Starting later this year, U.S. citizens will be able to apply online and visit an enrollment site to provide identification and fingerprints.”
However, the program requires a background check, fingerprints, and an anticipated enrollment fee of $85 for a five-year membership.
Are you going to buy this BS?
Before you do, check this out.
In a December article in Science Daily Airport Security Measures Not Backed By Solid Evidence it was reported that an article in the British Medical Journal, a scholarly publication, found “there is no solid evidence that the huge amounts of money spent on airport security screening measures since Sep. 11, 2001 are effective.”
“Despite worldwide airport protection costing an estimated $5.6 billion every year, they found no comprehensive studies evaluating the effectiveness of passenger or hand luggage x-ray screening, metal detectors or explosive detection devices. There was also no clear evidence of testing accuracy.”
Not convinced yet?
The article adds:
“The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) defends its measures by reporting that more than 13 million prohibited items were intercepted in one year. But, argue the authors, there is no way of knowing what proportion of these items would have led to serious harm.”
While most airports in Europe no longer require passengers to take off their shoes, the TSA is on the defensive.
In a Jan. 7, press release Need for Removal of Shoes at Checkpoint it says: “TSA’s objective is to mitigate risk in a way that ensures security measures while both promoting the safe movement of people and commerce and guarding against a deliberate attack against our transportation systems.
“The agency has implemented a number of risk-based security measures including modified screening procedures for passengers 12 and under, passengers 75 and older … All other passengers must undergo shoe screening and passengers with a disability or hindering medical condition who cannot remove their shoes can be screened using alternative methods.”

The website of the Transportation Security Administration. Click image to enlarge.

If it made any difference to safety in the skies, it may all be worth the hassle, but it doesn’t.
In a November 2009 article also in Science Daily, the headline says it all. Security Measures Lead To False Sense Of Security.
In a journal article cited, many scientists dispute the use of screening measures employed.
“Many of the security tools used by national governments lack scientific underpinning. This was posited by a team of thirteen international behavioural scientists, including Bruno Verschuere and Geert Crombez (Ghent University), in a recent publication in the Open Access Journal of Forensic Psychology.
“The team denounces the current situation regarding the use of tools and methods to protect national security.”
The report was about a research paper cited “Ghent University (2009, November 2). Security Measures Lead To False Sense Of Security.”
On Sunday, The New York Times editorialized in Airport Security Without the Hassle that change is long overdue:
“It is time to stop pretending that annoying protocols like these are all that stand between us and devastation,” said the Editorial Board.
Indeed, it is time. The screening system should be based on what really works … and nothing in the current procedures has been proven effective.
Unless, of course, the goal is to thoroughly annoy passengers and discourage travel to and around the country…a vital source of revenue for many local economies.
Then the program is working splendidly.

Watch a hilarious video parody below, posted by Scott Moore on April 8, 2002. It has been viewed more than 330,000 times.


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4 Responses  
  • Frequently (pissed off) flyer writes:
    July 30th, 2013

    If we were actually made any safer by taking our shoes off, I would not be peeved.
    It is so obvious that this does no good at all. The Europeans already know that.
    It just seems our government is too corrupt to do anything at all right. The hassles at the airport are a huge economic drain … just look at how much this silliness is costing the taxpayers.
    Not to mention the lost economic activity from those who decide not to fly at all and just stay home, or drive.

  • Fear of flying writes:
    July 30th, 2013

    I’ve been terrified of flying ever since 9/11.
    I don’t mind waiting a little longer in line … it makes me feel just a bit safer.
    I trust the government to do what is best for the traveling public. So put up or shut up.

  • Living in Japan writes:
    July 30th, 2013

    That video is hilarious.
    I just wonder if non-Japanese speakers can get it.
    There should be subtitles.

  • Bjorn in San Diego writes:
    July 30th, 2013

    Coming back from Sweden last June, I did not have to take of my shoes, but at Newark EWR airport I had to do it TWICE at the same terminal! It’s a bit ridiculous! All the precautions of seeing EVERYONE as a terror suspect is not based on reality! Is it racist to think that perhaps Ahmed Mohammed from Pakistan is just a TAD more suspicious than an 84 year old grandmother from Toledo?! Just my thoughts !

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