Monday, June 06, 2005

Still Lazy After All These Years

"Your security does not lie in the hands of Bush or al-Qaeda. Your security is in your own hands." Osama Bin Laden

The Department of Homeland Security has done it again. They've managed to push the envelop all the way to ... well, nowhere. A confidential report outlining proposed changes to airport security was obtained by the New York Times. It takes only a few sentences to see why the agency wants to keep us from knowing about it.

The report details methods to improve and speed up airport screening procedures for people and baggage. It also identifies some serious gaps in security. Most of the proposed changes are minor and incredibly forehead-smacking dumb. Some of the gaps, on the other hand, are major blood-chillers.

Here's my favorite suggestion from the Duh column: Those long lines at security checkpoints where passengers load carryon items on tables for X-rays would move more quickly if ... wait for it ... the tables themselves were longer. Seems the X-ray machines sit inefficiently idle while a logjam of stuff backs up on tables too small to hold more than a few items at a time.

Uh, Guys? Any idiot who's ever waited in an unbelievably slow, low tech line at an American airport could have told you that! And everybody who's moved cleanly, efficiently and securely through airport security in Israel or Germany could tell you why: They're not the Keystone Cops! The Israelis and Germans actually use logic along with high tech equipment.

Speaking of Keystone Cops, let's talk about the TSA for a minute. One of the most chilling sections of the report refers to the lack of sufficient and speedy backup for the TSA by local law enforcement agencies. According to the report, "If, say, a handgun were discovered, the terrorist would have ample ability to retain control of it. T.S.A. screeners are neither expecting to encounter a real weapon nor are they trained to gain control of it."

Wait. Wait. What?? TSA screeners are not prepared to find or handle guns or knives or bombs? And they need to wait for the local sheriff to show up if they do? Then why the HELL are they there?

And then there's the part of the report that talks about the need to lock doors leading to secure areas so terrorists can't access them. Again: WHAT? The richest country in the world can't afford to supply a few extra keys??

I travel a fair amount, and I'm willing to wait-I'm happy to wait-through security checks if it means my plane won't blow up in midair.

What I'm not willing to do is wait forever for Homeland Security to get its freakin act together.

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