Posted by: reformedmusings | November 20, 2010

TSA must learn how real security is done from Israel

I’ve commented in past posts here and here about TSA buffoonery. In case you doubted the approach that I suggested for investment and implementation – good intelligence, quick follow-up on that intelligence, and looking for bad people not “bad things” (i.e., profiling), I found a good article with some details in the Israeli system. As I’ve said before, I’ve experienced their system first-hand and it works just as they describe. Not a lot of fancy, billion dollar equipment, just a well-thought-out and well-designed system that provides serious security with minimum intrusion to travelers.

I still see arguments on the Net that we can’t afford such a system or can’t make it work with our large air travel network. That’s so stupid that it’s laughable. We spend billions on the TSA to get nothing but passenger inconvenience and security theater. For that money and effort expended, we could match the Israeli system and then some. TSA has 67,000 employees who produce nothing useful. Get rid of the dead weight and put lots of smart folks with college degrees out in front to interview passengers. Get some folks who know how to do real intelligence instead of lazy, political grandstanding. Read the article. Think how much better off we’d be – no airport evacuations, no virtual strip searches, no molesting of our wives and children – just real security.

TSA now follows the same technology-centric strategy that initially failed us in Iraq. Like TSA, the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Detection Office (JIEDDO) spent billions on new toys to combat IEDs early in the war. The enemy came up with simple IEDs, we came up with new devices to counter. The enemy within weeks came up with other low tech answer that defeated our expensive device, then we’d spend tens of millions coming up with a new expensive device. The enemy defeats that one, and we spend hundreds of millions more. (I’m oversimplifying a bit, but not much.) On and on, meanwhile way too many of our troops came home in boxes or with missing limbs. Finally after a number of years and billions of dollars later, senior DoD leadership read JIEDDO the riot act – stop buying technology, it’s an endless, unwinnable strategy. Without getting too specific, JIEDDO was forced to redirect their efforts towards good intelligence and rapid follow-up of that intel. Guess what? U.S. losses to IEDs dropped dramatically, and very quickly. Was some of the technology useful? Sure, but as a force multiplier, not as the primary approach.

So here we are with TSA, still fighting the last incident after the horse left the barn just like JIEDDO did. They ignore the underlying fact that the 9/11 losses didn’t result from box cutters, it resulted from truly evil Islamists who took advantage of the core hijacking training of the time – cooperate with the hijackers. Crew and passengers alike were trained/told to give the bad guys what they wanted and everything would work out OK. The terrorists new that, counted on it, and exploited our idiocy to their advantage. It worked for the first three airplanes that the Islamists flew into the two WTC towers and the Pentagon while the crew and passengers obeyed their training and did nothing. The passengers on the fourth airliner figured it out and ended the hijacking, resulting in the aircraft crashing before they could be used as a missile. Incidents since then show that terrorist tactic will never work again. Passengers and crew now tackle and neutralize any perceived inflight threats, whether Islamic terrorists or unstable passengers. It would be even better if the passengers and crew had their own weapons to help.

Both Richard Reid the shoe bomber and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab the pantie bomber threw enough intelligence red flags for a child to catch. Except nobody who supposedly does airline safety intelligence caught on. Neither Islamist required new multi-million-dollar equipment or government groin gropes at the airport to catch. Yet we spend billions buying ineffective toys and let the government molest our wives and children.

Ineffective? You bet. Even John Pistole, the TSA director, could not and would not say on the O’Reilly Factor Friday night (can’t locate the video) that these virtual-strip-search scanners would have caught the pantie bomber. That’s because they probably would not have. The powder in the terrorist’s panties wasn’t dense enough to detect with back-scatter x-ray or millimeter wave scanners. That’s basic physics, unless Pistole has decreed physics to change for him. Ben Wallace, a Conservative MP in England, used to work with QinetiQ on this technology and stated unequivocally that “trials had shown that such low-density materials went undetected.” So, why again are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars on them and then pretending that they somehow keep us safe?

As far as the government groin gropes, we’re subjecting the American public, including our grandmothers, mothers, wives, and children, to measures that the military is forbidden to use against our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tell me again who’s winning the war on terror? Bruce Schneier, a prominent security consultant, has an excellent analysis of the TSA nonsense with lots of background links. If all this didn’t violate the Fourth Amendment and cost us billions of dollars, it would be laughable. One passenger even started his own successful revolt. That give great hope to Opt Out Day on November 24. Personally, I’m driving to our Thanksgiving destination. No government official will put their feeling, groping hands on my family.

The fact stands that all terrorist incidents on airliners since 9/11 have been stopped either by good intelligence ahead of time or by passengers and crews in flight. TSA hasn’t caught a single terrorist at an airport check point. In fact according to the GAO, TSA let real terrorists through their “security” in at least 23 cases. Feel safe yet?

Don’t take it. Call and write you Senators and Congressmen. Demand that TSA be defunded, that no further nudoscopes be purchased or deployed and that government groin gropes cease. Demand that the money instead be directed towards building this country’s first real air travel security system based on the El Al model. Send all the TSA scanner operators and government groin gropers back to their local MacDonalds. Take a stand for the Constitution and sanity itself. Heed the late President Ronald Reagan’s astute observation that: “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.””

As for me, I’m driving or taking Amtrak to the max extent possible until TSA dissolves or gets a clue. I suggest that you do the same.

I close with another great and pertinent truth as expressed by Ronald Reagan:

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.



  1. TSA must learn how real security is done from Israel « Reformed ……

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  2. […] one development brought me back for one more post on the TSA. In this post, I compared TSA’s bankrupt security theater to the early battle against IEDs in Iraq. The […]

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