Over at Salon.com, Ask The Pilot columnist Patrick Smith has a new column that's worth a read. In it, he takes the Transportation Security Administration to task for a system that is too focused on looking for the wrong things. His argument is that the screening system needs to change to one that primarily looks for bombs, instead of a futile attempt to find every "real or perceived" weapon. Here's a sampling of his argument:
Let's go back to Sept. 11, 2001, for a moment. Does anybody seriously believe that the success of those attacks relied on the ability to get box cutters through the X-ray machine? Could the hijackers not have fashioned a deadly knife from any of a thousand other objects or materials, from a broken bottle to a ballpoint pen? Of course. The attacks had nothing to do with airport security, and everything to do with the element of surprise. What the hijackers exploited was not a weakness in security, but rather a weakness in our mind-set. That is, our understanding and expectations of hijackings at the time. All of that is changed now, and today a box cutter is all but a useless weapon.
What's not a useless weapon, however, is a bomb. And just as the hijack paradigm has changed, our approach to airport security needs to change as well.