It seems Americans are finally figuring out that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t seem to have their security in mind, at least at airport security checkpoints. Many Americans are accidentally violating a ban on liquids and gels carried onto aircraft placed into effect a month ago. And many more are openly flouting the ban.
In addition, pilots and flight crews admit they are largely unconcerned about people carrying liquids aboard aircraft.
People who flout the ban say, for instance, that there is no way they are going to pack their expensive colognes and perfumes in their checked luggage where it could be stolen or broken in flight and baggage handling. Others just want to be able to drink their bottled water during their flights.
The Washington Post recounted the stories of several such travelers, and the Transportation Security Administration, as you might imagine, is displeased that people are ignoring their arbitrary and useless ban.
“Travelers must realize this isn’t a game,” [said TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe]. “The threat is real and it continues, and we appreciate the public’s cooperation. Is it the perfect system? No. But does it make it right to sneak things through security? No, it doesn’t.”
“There are obviously limitations to this ban,” said Clark Kent Ervin, a former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security.
Pilots groups have criticized the measures, saying they notice the security holes all the time. They say authorities should focus more on developing systems to identify potential terrorists, not just their weapons.
Gary Boettcher, a pilot and president of the Coalition for Airline Pilots Association, a trade group that closely tracks security issues, said he constantly sees people drinking from illicit bottles of water or putting on lip gloss when he walks through the passenger cabin. Most of the time, he said, it doesn’t bother him.
“They are just doing their routines like they always did,” Boettcher said. “An old woman drinking a bottle of water doesn’t concern me. . . . The whole screening process is a facade to make the public feel safe, to show that the government is doing something.”
Passengers said they didn’t feel any safer after reaching their destination and realizing they had inadvertently left a banned item in their carry-on bags. — Washington Post
Bottled water is a threat? The pilots sure don’t believe that. And neither does anybody else. Most everybody sees these measures for what they are: security theater, useless feel-good measures intended to make people feel like the government is doing something to keep them safe, regardless of how much real security the measures give. An all-out ban on liquids certainly doesn’t make anyone any safer in reality.
Most people are complying simply because they don’t want to miss their flight or be subjected to hours of interrogation as a suspected terrorist, simply because they want to have something to drink aboard the flight. In other words, they’re afraid — not of terrorists, but of their own government.
Way to go, Homeland Security. I thought the whole idea was to make people secure, not afraid. It’s clear now, more than ever before, that the point is to make people feel afraid and beg for Michael Chertoff to protect them from the bogeymen.