So, @tsrblke (fellow AoSHQ Moron) and I were discussing my previous post on twitter, and it came to light that I had not been sufficiently clear in my previous post. That's entirely on me, and I'm actually pretty happy about being called out on it.
So, our discussion revolved around two things that I failed to address properly. The first is the role of intelligence agencies in security, and the second is the exact airport security paradigm I would like.
As regards catching Undies Bomber II, I give all respect to the CIA. I believe a strong Intelligence Apparatus is necessary for our security. By the time a bomber gets to the airport, there has already been at least one failure of intelligence. We should be seeking to stop terrorists before they even get to the airport, not at the airport itself.
As for what I see airport security looking like, that's a little more complex.
In essence, we have three possibilities for airport security. One is the completely passive, and farcical, old method. You remember, right? You'd go to check in for your flight, and the agent would ask you a series of questions to which everyone knew the answers? One is the current, active method. This involves nudie-scanners, and pat-downs of grandmothers wearing colostomy bags. The third option is a more subtle method involving behavior profiling. And, of course, these three can be mixed in almost any way.
My method would do away with the TSA completely. Yes, including metal detectors. For one thing, most small arms (that would be "pistols" in this case) pose little or no threat to an airplane- I don't care what Hollywood tells you. Second, we've already shown they're relatively easy to beat, so why waste the time and money? The TSA would be replaced with a two (or possibly 3) tier system. Note: this would not be "voluntary," but it would be up to the airlines to implement, not the Government, in my plan.
The first tier would be a basic behavior/demographic screening. As I said in the previous post, a single guy in his twenties or thirties, who bought his ticket 24 hours or less in advance is a much higher threat than a granny and her grand kids going to Disney World. This would not require anything, beyond the basic analysis, that airlines aren't already doing. If you get flagged as enough of a risk, your boarding pass indicates that.
The second tier would be at the gate. People trained to do so would take those with the flagged passes aside and question them to determine if they are legitimate passengers or not. If the Government is going to be involved in this at all, this is the place. Someone pronounced clean can fly, otherwise, my apologies, but you're grounded.
A possible third tier would then involve the technology: scanners and pat downs and such.
Note that this paradigm can still be supplemented, in times of high risk or specific threat, with a more active defense as well. But in normal times it is almost completely non-invasive, and few people will even realize they're being screened. Even better, because it is the airlines doing the screening, they would not be (in my plan) free from any of the rules that are supposed to protect your privacy. When they're done with their analysis, they can keep the demographic data they keep anyway (number of passengers, how far in advance the flight was booked, approximate demographics, etc.) but would not be able to keep any sensitive or personally identifying information.