The Reality Behind Airport Security

This article from the Atlantic is hilarious and upsetting. It is about one reporter (and Bruce Schneier, technical security guru) exploiting holes in the Transportation Security Administration‘s “ID Triangle” and in doing so, circumventing the airline security system. Sample quote:

[B]ecause I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded knickknacks, I’ve amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really). All these things I’ve carried with me through airports across the country. I’ve also carried, at various times: pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening four times—out of dozens of passages through security checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving cream.

To get through airport security in the U.S. I cultivate a quiet “this is not my culture and I am just going to go with it without judging it” mental state. This is how alienating I find the experience. I find it easier to bear when flying internationally because I know I am putting up with being touched in public by strangers to get somewhere interesting, but it is tough to keep cool when it is a flight away from friends and family to snow-cocooned Pittsburgh. Wherever I am traveling, I usually hum opera or hymns aggressively while being searched to play for cognitive dissonance. Maybe while I’m here I will acquire the regional skill of laughing at onerous burdens.

Inspirational Quote:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain

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