There's no doubt we live in a dangerous world. The 9/11 attacks, and others like the Nice attacks in France, have demonstrated the creativity of those who want to harm the innocent. There's no doubt that the increased security measures adopted since 9/11 have deterred or prevented attacks. The real question is, how far can we take airline security to match the creativity of terrorists before we have changed our lives so much that the terrorists have won?
The recent ban on laptops is obviously the result of specific intelligence, but restrictions on laptops serve as a prime example of airport security creep. We've already gone as far as removing our shoes, belts, and having every bag scanned. Detection dogs looking for bombs and drugs are sniffing our checked luggage. And still, terrorists find ways to bypass our airline security. Underwear bombs. Shoe bombs. When does it all stop?
More importantly, are we handling it effectively?
We have come to the point where political correctness is overwhelming common sense. Many other countries do basic sniffs for drugs and bombs, but then use profiling to identify high-risk people. This doesn't necessarily need to be racial profiling, but profiling is certainly valuable. In some countries, groups other than terrorists are profiled. Very attractive women from poorer countries will be targeted in some places as sex trafficking is a problem. Nationality is used as an indicator in other parts of the world.
But we have to do random searches based on numbers rather than making intelligent decisions. A high-risk person can squeeze by additional security because they are the sixth person instead of the seventh person in line.
Intelligent screening isn't about choosing a race, sex, or religion. It's about putting together a profile of an individual who is likely to attack. This can include age, place of origin, education, family ties, and activities while traveling.
I'm often critical of the level of government spying and information collection that occurs today. But if we're going to have it, then it should be put to good use. Even a minuscule portion of that information would be enough to build a serious profile on travelers. Much of this information is available from the traveler's passport.
We also have the technology on-site to rule out things like laptop computers as a weapon. Explosives detection and x-ray scans should be enough to keep laptops onboard.
Is there something else that should be concerning us?
To me, the news that laptop computers are banned on some flights is concerning. I understand that not all countries have the technology we have. However, if we're this serious about security, we could supply this technology to countries with flights coming into the U.S.
The bigger issue is that it seems as if the people conducting these checks aren't being proficient. If you're like me, you've probably traveled with something you weren't supposed to at one point or another. Maybe it was simply a pair of scissors that made it through security. But you've probably gotten home and wondered how that item made it through.
The truth is that TSA security has its weak points. The majority of those weak points are the people themselves. Undertrained, overworked employees staring at a screen all day. They are more of a deterrent than an actual protective measure. And who knows what the security personnel in other countries are dealing with.
Maybe it's time we stop banning everything and start taking a more intelligent approach to security.
Looking for an airline-security-proof self-defense tool?
Have you considered a sock?
It might sound ridiculous, but it can be a great tool if you know what to do. And if airline security ever bans socks, we're in serious trouble.
By placing any small, relatively heavy object in a sock, you've created a great defense tool. Much like a nunchuck, the centripetal force of an object in a swinging sock provides you with knockout power at greater than arms reach. The item in the sock can be a soda can or bottle purchased after the security screening, a lock from your bag, your keys if you have a big set, or even your cellphone in a pinch.
Would I take it to a gunfight? Not if I had another option. But I'd rather have that than the box cutters used in the 9/11 attacks.
Former CIA Officer, Jason Hanson, is the Founder and CEO of Spy Escape & Evasion. Jason's Mission: To teach men and women how to be safe using, "Spy Secrets" that 99% of Americans will never know. Jason won a deal on ABC's Shark Tank, is a New York Times Bestselling Author of "Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life," has appeared on The NBC Today Show, Dateline, Rachel Ray, Fox & Friends and more. Jason has been interviewed by Forbes, NPR, The Huffington Post and others. Jason is also a highly sought-after Keynote Speaker for conventions and corporate events. To visit Jason’s site, click here.