Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Please remove your liquid shoe bombs

Gideon Rachman has had enough of inconsistent airport security measures.

The Americans are shoe-fetishists. It is impossible to go through an American airport without being asked to take off your shoes. The British go through shoe phases – but are permanently obsessed with liquids. So at Heathrow, sometimes they ask to x-ray your shoes, and sometimes not. But they always want to take a look at your toothpaste and deoderant…

There is little easier to mock than seemingly arcane airport regulations, and also little easier to get annoyed at.  The solution to the latter is generally to simply smile, walk through the metal detector, and subject yourself to the system’s arbitrariness.  Given all that Jeffrey Goldberg was able to carry through security, though, there clearly is something wrong with our airport detection methods.

Rachman correctly identifies the root of this silliness, but I am not entirely sold on his proposed solution.

First, there is a distinct stable-door aspect. It seems unlikely that the same methods will be tried twice, although I suppose you can’t risk it. Second, since airline travel is international – perhaps the various regulators could put their heads together and standardise what they are looking for. Then, at least, one could go through security on autopilot.

The bomb-free airport shoe?

The conveniently bomb-free airport shoe?

En bref, someone puts a bomb in their shoe, we start searching for shoe bombs.  Someone makes a bomb out of toothpaste, we start searching for toothpaste bombs.  Et cetera.  This is a disturbingly ex post facto arrangement, and one that does little to anticipate new threats.

That said, I’m not sure I want to be able to go through security entirely “on autopilot.”  Presumably, this would mean that not only could grumpy but ultimately undangerous passengers like Rachman go through security relatively painlessly, but that actual terrorists would also know what to suspect.  If the failure of airport security policies is that they are not predictive, then I don’t think the solution is to make them more predictable.

(image from flickr user zen under a Creative Commons license)

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November 13, 2008 - Posted by | Brittania |

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