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Friday 02 December 2005

Unpredictability At The Airport

They are changing the airport security regime again:

Under the new plan, more passengers will likely be subjected to secondary screening, and pat-downs will include arms and legs as well as the torso. More canine teams will patrol airports. Passengers also can expect more randomness at security gates so would-be terrorists won’t know for sure what they might see.

For example, an airport might require all passengers to remove their shoes one day but not the next. Some passengers may have to show their identification an extra time or have their carry-on bag hand-searched.

“By incorporating unpredictability into our procedures and eliminating low-threat items, we can better focus our efforts on stopping individuals who wish to do us harm,” Hawley said.

I’m not sure how good an idea this is. On the one hand, making the process unpredictable will presumably make it that much harder for any would-be bad guys to find some way to get prohibited items through the checkpoint.

On the other hand, though, deliberately making the process unpredictable will undoubtedly cause more delays as passengers won’t be able to anticipate what’s going to be required of them — and it’ll probably be a bust anyway because I can’t imagine the government actually doing truly random things. The government has a culture entirely based on procedure; and even if you write a procedure that says ‘vary the procedures wildly’, it’s still going to mean culture shock.

Oh the third hand, though, it appears that we will once again be able to carry pocketknives etc. onto airplanes, the government having after four years completed its procedure for noticing that these are not actually a threat.

Posted by tino at 16:01 2.12.05
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