Given my activities yesterday (i.e., going through airport security), I found the latest interview with Bruce Schneier timely and once again correct:
As we came by the checkpoint line, Schneier described one of these aspects: the ease with which people can pass through airport security with fake boarding passes. First, scan an old boarding pass, he said—more loudly than necessary, it seemed to me. Alter it with Photoshop, then print the result with a laser printer. In his hand was an example, complete with the little squiggle the T.S.A. agent had drawn on it to indicate that it had been checked. “Feeling safer?” he asked.
To a large number of security analysts, [the billions we've spent on security theater] makes no sense. The vast cost is not worth the infinitesimal benefit. Not only has the actual threat from terror been exaggerated, they say, but the great bulk of the post-9/11 measures to contain it are little more than what Schneier mocks as “security theater”: actions that accomplish nothing but are designed to make the government look like it is on the job. In fact, the continuing expenditure on security may actually have made the United States less safe.
Yes. We spend money on high-tech, whiz-bang solutions to human-intelligence problems. The attack on 9/11 can't happen again in the U.S., not because of full-body scanners at airports, but because of reinforced cockpit doors and vigilant passengers. Should we let just anyone board a transport airplane without a security check? No, of course not; but we should make the checks effective, rather than flamboyant.
Security, however, tends to ratchet up, because no one wants to be the guy who relaxed security right before an attack. And we know an attack will happen someday; nihilists are not easily dissuaded from their crimes. Still, one can hope.