“The TSA couldn’t protect you from a 6 year old with a water balloon”
Rafi Sela, former head of airport security in Israel does a serious take-down of the U.S.’s safety measures.
“Ben Gurion [International Airport, near Tel Aviv] is probably the most threatened airport in the world. It has between 50 and 70 incidents every day. Nobody hears about those because we handle them.”
While the Israeli airport drills its screeners seven times a day, Sela said TSA agents are drilled only once or twice a year. With the high turnover rate in the agency, many operate without having been tested.
“Security can’t be treated like a fast food company. These people are tasked with finding bombs, not flipping burgers.”
As our Erin noted, he calls bullsh*t on the practice of having people stand in line with their shoes off, literally. “Instead of checking intent, they check luggage. And they don’t even do it well,” he said of the TSA. “I have orthopedic insoles in my shoes made from composite material. On the machines, that composite looks identical to plastic explosives. I put them on the belt every time, and no one — NO ONE — ever questions my shoes. Some security experts suspect that the TSA has never once caught a terrorist at a checkpoint.”
Of Israeli screeners, he explained, “We interview every single customer several times, but we don’t really care what you have to say. We’re paying attention to your behavior.”
“At Ben Gurion Airport, we get travelers from their car to their gate in 25 minutes. When was the last time that happened to you in an American airport? Probably never, because a dozen 747s worth of cranky travelers can’t take their shoes and coats off, pull their laptops out of their luggage, and queue up for pat downs without chaos,” he said.
“It’s different in Israel” where passengers are not required to take off their shoes. “You come in, we ask you questions, and we have well-trained people determine if you have any harmful plans. They look at your eyes and your body language, not your loafers. We have threats in the airport, but nothing deadly has happened to us, thank God, in the last 40 years.”
“The TSA conveniently packs hundreds of travelers together in cramped security lines. Terrorists love crowds because they can inflict the most harm that way … So what does American airport security do? It gathers folks together in long lines BEFORE they’ve been scanned at all.”
That’s also why he gets nervous waiting for his luggage at the baggage carousel: “[T]here’s no sort of scrutiny around who gets to walk in there. It’s like the TSA thinks the terrorists have some sort of death grudge against planes. So if we can keep them from getting on one, they won’t bother murdering a bunch of people clustered around baggage claim.”
He took issue with the copious amounts of glass used in the construction of U.S. airports, including Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport in the nation’s capital.
“Now all that glass is lovely, and it saves a bundle on lighting, but have you ever wondered if it’s all … y’know, explosion-proof? Because it totally isn’t. Which makes each of these lovely airports a build-your-own shrapnel bomb kit (just add gunpowder!),” Sela said. “In Israeli airports, the security checks are done in a small, blast-proof area with a few people in it at a time. So if there’s a bomb, we only have to evacuate one room. Not an entire terminal full of drunken businessmen and sleep-deprived families on vacation.”