Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's a Security Perimeter?

Once upon a time this humble blogger and an accomplice passed through pre-9/11 wand-n-go security at the airport for no reason but to embarrass a family member coming in from his first year at Princeton.  The Ivy Leaguer had recently adopted tweed and rectangle glasses.  Two bros and one videographer conspired to welcome his rarefied new personage home with overfamiliar bear hugs and loud backwoods drawls as he walked off the jetway.  Stuffed in our jackets was seaweed paper that would be molded over staggered teeth to achieve the appearance of random toothlessness.  Also furry bomber hats like you see on unshaven guys answering midnight knocks from the sheriff in trailer parks.  We hadn't shaved.

Hilarious video, by the way. The wand guy didn't blink when yours truly opened his coat for a closer pass-by and everything fell out.

Try this silliness at an airport in 2011 and besides being bounced for lack of a boarding pass we would probably be sent straight to the Gitmo for being found in possession of concealed bomber hats.

The days of greeting or bidding adieu to friends and family at airport gates are long gone, and after yesterday's suicide bombing in the luggage return at Domodedovo Airport in Moscow the question of saying hello and goodbye anywhere in the airport terminal is again front and center.

Unlike many crowded public places, airports never have to be as crowded as they are, whether crowded with friends, family, and punks at the gate or anywhere on the premises save for driving by for curbside drop-off/pickup.

Should we expand the security ring or require a boarding pass to so much as enter an airport?  The question  puts a fine point on the psychology behind protecting people using the air transport system compared to protecting the same number of people who might regularly pack into any other low-security public venue.

Domodedovo-level suicide bombings can occur anywhere people are free to move about, and the sad fact remains that in many cases the call to "find the people responsible for this" rings hollow.  Often there are accomplices, but sometimes the sole responsible party remains at the crime scene: there ... there ... there ... and way over there.

As is usually the case in these tragedies, the security question raised by yesterday's bombing feels lots more like a sociology question.


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