Every time I fly my biggest complaints are with security.  It’s slow, awkward, potentially dangerous, and as I’ll argue in this blog post, pointless.

One of the boxcutters used to hijack one of the 9-11 planes.

At face value the security checkpoint at an airport has a goal of preventing people from bringing weapons on board flights.  It makes sense that I don’t want a crazy guy with a gun on the plane.  But, even the smallest of weapons have made a big impact.  The 9-11 hijackers famously used boxcutters to keep any vigilantes at bay.  As a result, the TSA decided to confiscate everything from pocket knives to sewing scissors from carry-on bags.  Makes sense right?

Now, let’s say someone wanted to bring a weapon on board a plane nowadays.  You’d think it be pretty hard to do so, what with all of the security we’ve got.  But it is possible to waltz through security in your underwear and simply construct a deadly weapon from items purchased in the Duty-Free stores.  Here are a couple of examples I could think of while I most recently traveled.

More dangerous than any box cutter.

Purchase a cheap bottle of wine or other hard alcohol.  Break the glass when you’re ready for use.  A broken wine bottle is much more dangerous than an 8″ long screwdriver.  And they let you carry it on the plane.  While you’re there, buy a few bottles of perfume.  Their high alcohol content will make for a great flammable bomb.  I’m sure you could google how to make molotov cocktail out of that.  You can light it with a non-banned lighter or pack of matches.  At least it will smell great before the cabin is consumed in fire.

Our security is only as good as the weakest link in our armor.  And yet we’re extremely happy to sell dangerous weapons to anyone who wants them AFTER they’ve been cleared through security.

My point to all of this isn’t to argue that our security needs to be tighter.  I’m just pointing out that our security isn’t tight at all, and that’s not a problem.  People don’t need to have their small knives and tools taken away from them.  They don’t need to remove their shoes.  They don’t need to be doused in radiation to look for smuggled weapons.  A lack of weapons isn’t what’s preventing terrorism occurrences in our country.  The TSA is merely wasting our time and our money on expensive gadgets and overstaffed security lines.

Just doing her job.

The TSA is in such a fear based mentality that they are making traveling very unpleasant and difficult.  People have to arrive very early at the airport or risk missing their flight only because of long security lines.  I believe that this has a very real and damaging impact on our economy.  It’s simply harder to get around the country.  In summing up, I’ll leave you with this.  The TSA is so paranoid that it includes this question in their FAQ: “Q. Why is breast milk not a threat?”  I implore you, who the hell is frequently asking that question?