A Terrorist Does Not Have To Set Off The Bomb

More boring Crotch-Bomber stuff. Once it’s out of my system I will move on to other things. I promise!

The terrorist does not have to set off a bomb.

All a terrorist has to do is create terror.

The Crotch-Bomber was spectacularly successful if not, in hindsight, bizarrely stupid. He managed to throw the TSA into a complete tizzy, send the US Government off into spasms of hysteria, have the President of the United States have to “do something fast” and, best of all, get us to care about terrorists in general again and Al-Qaeda in specific. New, enormous investments will be placed in dubious technological equipment (because technology solves all problems). Everyone will be trained to Worship the Machine because the Machine Keeps Us Safe from Terrorists. Our society becomes less Free. We give up more freedoms and rights and dignities to feel “safe.” We profile people who might look dark skinned or might be naggingly Muslim again.

These sort of things don’t seem to happen when the US economy is at its peak but down at the trough where little disruptions in the infrastructure have giant ripples. Almost as if someone watches the news and says, “Let’s do this. It seems like a great time.” Disrupt a weak economy by making people more afraid to fly? Spectacular!

Until the US Government, and the TSA in particular, understands they need to model their security against real threats that generate terror and stop trying to stop every threat in the history of time as it flows forward and backward, they will never stop people trying to smuggle non-functioning bombs in their crotch. Threat Modeling is not just for software systems! It’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Figure out what the threats are and stop the threats. Define the threats, define the objectives of the threats, and secure against those problems. Don’t spend loads of money on new technological devices and inconvenience millions and millions of people. Not only will security at airports become far more efficient but the entire system will become safer. Fight the threat, not the dream. Stop securing against yesterday’s pathetic attack. Stop being afraid! Come on, folks. Real engineering, please. No more faith-based security.

That no one will put up with a terrorist action on an airplane any more makes us far more safer than any technological gadgets or buckets of money we toss into the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is a big money pit that spends money on garbage with no clear mandate, management, or budget oversight. Now they want to buy more toys. Say no. Go for the low-tech solution: If you would jump on a guy trying to light his crotch on fire, raise your hand. Give everyone kindles, because they double as bludgeoning devices.

I say, scrap the machines down to reasonable search, remove the tantalizing target of the security lines through optimization, stop looking at people’s shoes, give up the worthless but intrusive random searches of senior citizens and give all stewardesses some serious martial arts training. Or tasers. Would you light your crotch on fire if that nice lady who just gave you a Coke could rip your arms off? Or taser you in the face?

What’s the threat? Someone waving a gun/bomb/knife around on board. What’s the solution? Strengthen the doors on the cockpits and teach cabin crew to kick ass.