I’ve been doing my fair share of flying lately, and have become a little slack with my attempts to make sure I’m not carrying prohibited objects. Amazingly in the past week, and on international flights I managed to take: 1 swiss army pocket knife, 1 leatherman, and 1 sharp shard of glass around 100mm long. All these objects were picked up when I went to get on connecting domestics flights. While all this is rather comic from my point of view (apart from getting my leatherman confiscated), I can’t help it reveals the pointlessness of this whole scare mongering security exercise.
In the first instance its obviously pretty easy to get sharp or dangerous good onto a plane: pens, pencils, duty freeglass bottles, etc. They even give out steel knifes and forks! The reality is that anyone with any military or martial arts training can do violent and fatal damage if they want.
The primary ways that terrorist attacks are stopped through a. a few simple security features like locking the pilots away. b. training airline staff well. It is remarkable how few successful terrorist attempts are carried out on plans and this on the most part because of the huge resources put into surveillance and observation long before anyone gets of the ground.
It strikes me that all this security bizzo is really about making governments look like they are doing something by making us do something for them. Its a similar logic to environmental behavior like household water and recycling, which are good in principle, but almost entirely pointless if industry is allowed to pollute and externalize its environmental destruction.