The Cost of Security Theater: When You Look At Everything…

…you see nothing (boldface mine):

The next day, Tsarnaev was entered a second time into the TECS system, with some dire warnings. But this time, the name was misspelled, with an extra y: “Tsarnayev,” a detail that was made public not long after the bombings.

The note said that his detention was “mandatory” if he were found leaving or reentering the US, according to NBC.

“Detain isolated and immediately call the lookout duty officer at NTC (24X7),” says the note, according to NBC News, which reported it had seen a copy. “Call is mandatory whether or not the officer believes there is an exact match. Advise the person answering the phone that you have a code tip lookout intercept.”

Several months later, Tsarnaev boarded a flight to Moscow at New York’s JFK airport. An alert was triggered, but Tsarnaev was not pulled out for any searches or interviews.

There was a high volume of other potential suspects traveling through customs that day who were considered a higher priority, officials said.

We could have stopped him by simply holding planes on the ground. Yes, it would have been inconvenient, but if this is the real deal, then you delay flights. But if you’ve overloaded the system with false positives and non-terrorists (at one point, Senator Ted Kennedy was on a watch list), such that you end up crying wolf all the time, it becomes impossible to have rigorous security. In other words, a terrorist watch list with a reported million people doesn’t work.

We have learned nothing from Sept. 11, 2001.

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  1. Pingback: Questions Still Unanswered | Mike the Mad Biologist

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