Security theater

Wednesday, 15 August 2007, 2:40 PM EST

Author and security consultant Bruce Schneier has dubbed such cost-ineffective measures "security theater" because they evoke feelings of security without actually improving it. But it's easy to understand how the lighter ban came to pass. Lawmakers wanted to show voters they were doing something in response to Reid and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Airlines were eager to restore confidence and happy to let the federal government take on the cost and responsibility of baggage screening. Neither had a motivation to argue that shoe bombers did not represent a serious enough threat to aviation to merit the lighter ban, or even to ask the question of whether they posed such a threat. Alarm overpowered reasonable cost-benefit analysis and a measured response.

At GE.

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