Homeland Security Theater: 8 Measures That Feel Good But Don't Make You Safer

02/01/2012 01:00 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2012

WASHINGTON -- The good news first. Government homeland security agencies are moving toward a more rational, risk-based system of protection.

Now the bad news. Even if you eventually get to keep your shoes on at the airport, many other annoying, expensive and, terrorism experts say, unnecessary measures introduced since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will remain as part of our "security theater."

"Security theater refers to security measures that make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve their security," explained terrorism analyst Bruce Schneier on his blog.

He continued, "Security is both a feeling and a reality. The propensity for security theater comes from the interplay between the public and its leaders. When people are scared, they need something done that will make them feel safe, even if it doesn't truly make them safer. Politicians naturally want to do something in response to crisis, even if that something doesn't make any sense."

"Unfortunately for politicians," Schneier wrote, "the security measures that work (such as better intelligence gathering) are largely invisible."

In the meantime, though, the show must go on:

Homeland Security Theater: 8 Feel-Good Measures That Experts Say Do Nothing To Make You Safer


Suggest a correction