May 26, 2010 11:47AM

Good Thing There Are So Few Bad Guys

Returning from Chicago this past weekend, I noticed that they were using strip‐​search machines in several security lanes at the TSA checkpoint (ORD Terminal 1). Naturally, after the ID check — yes, I did show ID this time—I chose a lane that lead to a magnetometer rather than a strip‐​search machine.

Annnnnd, anyone wanting to smuggle a plastic weapon could do the same.

For all the money spent on strip‐​search machines at ORD, and for all the exposure law‐​abiding travelers are getting, the incremental security benefit has been just about exactly zero. Security theater. TSA has to direct people to lanes mandatorily or install strip‐​search machines at all lanes to get whatever small security benefit they provide.

Going through the strip‐​search machine is optional — you can get a pat‐​down instead. Signage to that effect was poorly placed for informing the public, at the entrance to the strip‐​search machine. Travelers might read it as they stepped into the machine, realizing from that standing spread‐​eagle position that they didn’t have to be there.