Much has been talked about the elevated (okay, obsessive) sense of security that has been put on transport security in general, airport screening in particular.
I have never experienced air-travel in the US prior to 9/11, but people say security was extremely lax, you could walk past gates without ID, non-traveling passengers can go all the way to the gate, little or no screening done to the people or belongings.
But what matters is that we now live in a post-9/11 world and security is big. Over time, the specific measures and protocols have gotten somewhat complicated and perplexing to the common man. People like Schneier have made their job to critique technologies related to security.
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Schneier also created the term “security theater” to refer to security screening measures which the media and public think have little or no impact in actually preventing security breaches. I find some of the measures funny too and have made several comments from time to time.
But it is also dangerous to say insinuate that the so-called security theater is totally unnecessary.
I think we have had a handful of instances ever since 9/11, where American airports and/or American airspace were violated. And some of them happen to have been detected by human intuition and common-man intelligence, rather than security theater or for that matter, the slew of federal and independent intelligence agencies.
But what this theory fails to recognize is, without the screening there will be a lot more explosives that will make it past security and it is difficult to depend on human intelligence and intuition to prevent that many more terrorist disasters from happening.
I am a big critic of meaningless measures and knee-jerk reactions, but we also have to evaluate them for why they were put in place.