“It’s infuriating,” Bruce Schneier remarked. “We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this — and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”
Schneier could, of course, have been referring to any of dozens of government programs. In this case, however, he was speaking of the federal government’s post-9/11 airport security measures — measures that Schneier, a security expert, has dubbed “security theater,” defined as “actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job.”
“Probably [the Transportation Security Administration’s] most relentless critic,” Vanity Fair’s Charles C. Mann called Schneier, whom he recently met at Reagan National Airport for an on-location critique of federal airport security. The picture Mann paints, with Schneier supplying the pigments, is one of wasted taxpayer dollars; futile security measures; and needless, time-consuming, and humiliating — not to mention unconstitutional — inconveniences for passengers.
“Since 9/11,” Mann wrote, “the U.S. has spent more than $1.1 trillion on homeland security,” much of it directed toward securing airplanes, the weapon of choice on that fateful day. Yet for all that money, Schneier maintained, “The only useful airport security measures since 9/11 were locking and reinforcing the cockpit doors, so terrorists can’t break in, positive baggage matching” — which Mann describes as “ensuring that people can’t put luggage on planes, and then not board them” — “and teaching the passengers to fight back. The rest is security theater.”
Click here to read the entire article.