8 Years On, Critics Call Airport Security 'Theater'

Critics see cockeyed focus on 'pointy objects,' none on real threats
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2009 6:17 PM CDT
Airline passengers line up at the TSA security check.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Billions of dollars in spending since 9/11 has given airport security officers plenty of ways to catch terrorists—but are critics right in calling it "security theater"? Take the “millimeter wave whole body imager,” which pinpoint “anomalies” on your person: Sure, it will spot a handgun, or a sharp object, but one critic says explosives detection is more relevant in an age of secure cockpit doors, NPR reports.

“We're wasting immense amounts of time and manpower searching through people's bags for little knives and pointy objects, and taking harmless liquids away from people,” says Patrick Smith, a commercial pilot and Salon blogger. Meanwhile, airport personnel squeak by security too easily, says Rep. Peter DeFazio: “Our original vision was that everybody ... would have to go through screening.”