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Air Security: Not Serious

A top level security probe is under way after a 12-year-old boy walked on to a plane unchecked with no documents at the height of the terror scare. The boy boarded a plane at Gatwick on Monday despite airport security being on red-alert.


Want more data points that support the idea that – mechanical and weather issues aside – boarding a plane and arriving at your destination in one piece is a complete crap shoot?

The nation’s top aviation security official says X-ray images are an effective way to detect bombs in shoes.

A Homeland Security Department study says they aren’t.

“Our highly trained transportation security officers can see if a shoe has been tampered with when they view it on the X-ray machine,” [TSA chief] Hawley said.

That 18-year-old at National wearing his TSA uniform pants gangster-style and shooting the breeze with his pal the gray-plastic-tray carrier? Color me unconvinced.

The April 2005 study by the Homeland Security Department states that X-ray images “do not provide the information necessary to effect detection of explosives.”

The report goes on to state that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, but at this point is 50-50 still an acceptable rate of success? The odds of nicking the skin under your stocking feet and picking up the flesh eating virus from the airport floor are probably greater.

Look, we can try to dismiss the plausibility of every disrupted plot that comes along (some for good reason), but the point is they are trying and they have been successful in the past. Our current approach to keeping the skies friendly isn’t working. Horrible as it is to contemplate, I would like to think that another tragic event might b*tch-slap some sense into those charged with keeping us safe. Still, every post-9/11 event to date has shown that our response to more potential tragedy is a heaping helping of more-things-that-don’t-make-us-safer.

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.