Thursday, May 31, 2012


What happened to security?


Security in the U.S. is a farce.

Actually, security in the U.S. is similar to risk management.

One day it's "all the rage" and at the top of management's list of priorities.

The next day it's a historical yawn.

Until, of course, someone, often with no great security intelligence, decides there is a Big Threat to America.

Why the rant?

I am about to take an international journey.

I booked the flights weeks ago.

No one - not the airline, not the ticketing agency - asked me if I had a passport and if I did, what was it's number.

No one asked for my Social Security number either, which is just as well since it NEVER was intended to be an ID for anything other than the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration. Social Security has come a long way since it was introduced as a voluntary tax.

We have - or perhaps had - a "24 hour law" for lading ships bound for the U.S.

We had - but apparently no longer have - a similar law requiring international carriers to provide passenger lists; the law was intended to compare the traveler's ID to a "No Fly" list.

Everyone knows the "No Fly" list misses more than it catches.

The last time I travelled overseas I was obliged to provide my passport information. Fair enough.

I will have to pass through an intrusive x-ray machine as TSA tries to detect things they prohibit from being brought on board an aircraft. Unfortunately, TSA's best efforts and all its machines can't detect everything so what should give me a warm, fuzzy feeling of security doesn't.

On the other hand, when I go through the security check on the way back to the U.S. I won't remove my shoes and I won't be x-rayed. I will go through a metal detector and my luggage will be x-rayed and maybe - maybe - I'll be asked to prove those two bottles of liquid really contain what I claim they contain.

Rather than the invasion of privacy TSA puts travelers through, I'll chat with a well-trained security person who knows the questions to ask and the answers to expect.

Security, where I am going, is a critical issue and unlike the U.S., it always is a concern. No ramping up and standing down like a yo-yo on a politician's string.

The risk management "bottom lines" to all of the above are several, including

  • CONSISTANCY - A level of awareness must remain high, even when, with no active threat presenting itself, it seems over-kill. It CAN be "over-kill" if security is allowed to slip.

  • TRAINING - Security personnel need to be trained to recognize potential threats. If that means profiling - admittedly a no-no for liberals - then profile. Learn to identify a person's actions and manner of speech. be concerned if a person is wearing a rain coat when there's a drought or an overcoat during a heat wave. In short, learn from the experts; visit the folks who provide security at the airport in Lod.

  • ALL HANDS - All hands, everyone, needs to be involved. The folks manning the desks and the production lines need to be aware of their surroundings. They also need to know how, and to whom, to report something out of the ordinary: a green sky (tornado possible), an unescorted stranger, flickering lights or power surges. The people who keep the organization operating are the organization's first line of defense, but they MUST know what to do when they perceive something is amiss.

I'd feel a lot better if someone had asked me to provide passport information when I purchased my ticket.

I'm sure the passport will be scanned as I check my bag, but if there is a computer or communications glitch, what then?

Apparently we - the U.S. - are in a confident mode.

For a traveler, that's scary.

If I wrote it, you may quote it.

Longer articles at

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