Cynical Synapse

Tue, 09 Feb 2010

Epic Fail: Airport Security Theater

Security screening at Detroit Metro

Airport security screening procedures just don’t make the grade. We take our shoes off because there was one shoe bomber. We have the Transportation Security Administration because airline contract security wasn’t doing a good enough job. We have limits on fluids we can take through security, but that didn’t stop the undie-bomber last December 25th.

These measures are all what I call feel-good security. Others use the term security theater. They’re essentially ineffective, but it looks like the authorities are doing something. Like when I took my kids to see the Liberty Bell in April 2002. The plaza was surrounded by the type of barricades you see around fair rides and the rule followers—us ordinary citizens—had to go into a trailer and pass through metal detectors. What’s the fricking point of that? Any terrorist could just drive his truck bomb right into the Liberty Bell building, but the rest of us had to suffer “security” procedures. I’ll tell you, a phenominal amount of money has been wasted on pointless security procedures and terrorism defense, but that’s for another post.

Brake, accelerator pedals

So, Monday, February 8th, Kaylan Policherla walked right past security into the concourse. Was the Metro Airport cop who sits by the security checkpoint asleep or something? What about the dozens—dozens—of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at the checkpoint? The process is to queue up, get your boarding pass and identification checked, then go through the metal detectors. He had no boarding pass, so how could this 27-year-old Indian native (who became a US citizen in 2005) get past all this, including the airport cop? At what point should security, including airport police, react? This buffoon should have never made it past the security checkpoint.

Instead, TSA hit the breach alarm, which closed gates to secure the concourse from the terminal area beyond the checkpoint. Previously screened people in this area were evacuated and had to be re-screened. Some travelers missed their flights. Adding insult to injury, the airline will charge them change fees.

Kaylan Policherla

Not much is known about the man arrested for the breach. His car, bearing Ohio plates, was illegally parked in front of the terminal and he had no boarding pass or luggage.

FBI Special Agent filed a criminal complaint against Policherla in the U.S. District Court in Detroit.</p

“I am aware that Policherla was not responsive to verbal commands given him to him by airport police and that an airport officer discharged his Taser at subject, which had no effect on subject,” Thomas wrote.

So, officials found and searched Policherla’s 2001 Volkswagen Passat, with Ohio plates. They didn’t disclose finding anything.

Policherla was arraigned today in Federal District Court on misdemeanor charges of violating airport security. Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy also charged him with resisting arrest, a 2-year misdemeanor. Some seriously doubt Policherla’s innocence, or at least the value of his attempt to breach security.

Detroit’s McNamara terminal was shut down for about 50 minutes. Screening began again after dogs searched the cordoned off area of the terminal. Metro’s incident follows security failures at JFK and Newark airport security breaches. These all beg the question of whether or not aviation security is properly focused. I think not.

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