Tuesday, January 05, 2010

BIG UNREASONING SECURITY: THE US MODEL

The poorly trained or people who can't think on their feet frequently unravel when confronted with the unusual or simple variations in human behavior. They fold right up like playing cards in a cheaply made deck.

Take this just breaking story from the Associated Press.

"The suspicious material found inside luggage that prompted the shutdown of a California airport Tuesday morning turned out to be five soft drink bottles filled with honey, authorities said," reported the agency.

"A passenger's suitcase tested positive for TNT at Bakersfield's Meadows Field during a routine swabbing of the bag's exterior, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. When TSA officials opened the bag, they found bottles filled with an amber liquid, he said.

" 'Why in this day and age would someone take a chance carrying honey in Gatorade bottles?" Youngblood asked. "That itself is an alarm. It's hard to understand.' "

No, not really. If one is getting honey straight from a hive and combs, or a larger container, or from a basement where it was stored years ago -- perhaps before the advent of liquid bombers, it can make sense.

There are also many other reasons -- including human ignorance -- to be considered. However, all too often the people in charge or allegedly in charge of protecting against 'terrorism,' simply can't get their heads around such things.

Gatorade bottles are only for liquid bombers, particularly in airports. That's the law.

"When TSA agents opened one of the bottles and tested the contents, the resulting fumes nauseated them, Youngblood said," continued the AP. "Both were treated and released at a local hospital."

Perhaps because the honey was spoiled. Or perhaps because the inspectors were so rattled a strong oder hysterically sickened them. Both are well within the borders of the possible.

And now for more refreshing bad thinking:

"It's encouraging that the system did work, because something is not right there ... The system worked the way it was supposed to, but it just takes time when you close an airport — and it costs a lot of money."

"All flights into and out of Meadows Field were canceled for much of Tuesday as authorities searched the terminal for other potential explosives.

"The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office bomb squad was expected to perform further tests on the honey to determine why at least two false positives were recorded for both TNT and the organic explosive acetone peroxide, or TATP. Bakersfield is about 110 miles north of Los Angeles."

One can think of many things here. That a system 'worked' by furnishing ludicrous false positives on bottles of honey is not an indication that it is actually working where we live -- in a world constrained by reality. It is, however, some evidence of the 'working' of failure, whether it be in the people performing the tests, in expired reagents in the tests, in bad tests that have never been properly validated, or some combination of all of these.

"Investigators said the bag's owner, Francisco Ramirez, 31, is a gardener from Milwaukee who has been cooperating with authorities," added the AP. "He flew to Bakersfield Dec. 23 to spend Christmas with his sister and was returning Tuesday when the alarm sounded."

How very unusual! Nope, people don't bring things in jars back from Xmas holiday. When we see Gatorade bottles, we always think bombs!

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