Getting security procedures right – that is, with reliable results – can be tough. Witness the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) efforts to detect would-be air travelers with a terrorist bent.
Bruce Schneier notes that 3,000 TSA “behavior detection” officers questioned 50,000 air travelers in 2010, and arrested 300 of them, “none of whom turned out to be terrorists.” Yet, reports the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “behavior detection teams apparently let at least 16 individuals allegedly involved in six subsequent terror plots slip through eight different airports.”
Schneier discounts the second assertion, saying that there haven’t been six terror plots between 2010 and today. Even so, TSA officers have a tough, often thankless, job. Indeed, that’s the lot of many security officers who keep trying to do their best. It’s a tough role.