for the record, Kip Hawley is an idiot

I missed this when it came out last week, but apparently, a gentleman named Ryan Bird was detained at the airport last week for writing “Kip Hawley is an idiot” on his plastic baggie filled with toiletries. Apparently, the security trolls highly educated and diligent TSA employees took the statement to be a threat or at least behavior that they didn’t approve of and detained Mr. Bird – while telling him that he didn’t have 1st Amendment Rights at the TSA checkpoint.

Kip Hawley is the current director of the TSA and, yes, he is an idiot. This is the guy whose organization seems to watch more bad action movies than they read real risk assessments.  If you recall, a month or so ago we had a complete ban on liquids in planes due to the fear of binary explosives the ban was later lightened to allow small amounts of toiletries on the plane *if* they were put into clear baggies so that they could be viewed. The problem with this is that it was not based on any science or chemical engineering knowledge. The feared binary explosives are notoriously difficult to produce, would require hours of work and produce noxious smells which would (one hopes) be noticed.

Unfortunately, this is characteristic of the way we are handling transportation security these days. Rather than assessing the risks and taking reasonable actions based on the assessments, we are running around trying to look like we’re doing something. This goes for removing shoes to limiting liquids to arming pilots – none if it makes sense in a security context.

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