Eng 101 research paper revised finalDocument Transcript
Parsons 1Rebekah ParsonsProfessor BoltonEnglish 101November 20, 2012 The Importance of Airport Security “Annoying” and “waste of time” are usually some of the first thoughts that come tomind when people think about airport security. However, airport security plays a major role inthe safety of passengers and should not be taken lightly. Airport security systems have onlyrecently become a big deal because of the September 11, 2001 attack on the World TradeCenter. Before then, terrorism did not present a major threat to air travelers. In the story“Signal Detection,” by Steven Casey, a terrorist named Richard Reid managed to get throughairport security with a bomb in his shoe. Luckily, the flight attendants and passengers on boardwere able to stop him, and the plane landed safely. Obviously, if other terrorists, Richard Reidbeing only one example, can still manage to get through security and onto an airplane,something has to be done. Suggestions to better the security networks have been made: installnew technologies or follow new procedures. Some airports have listened to these suggestionsand upgraded their security. Airport security systems should always be changing in order tokeep up with the new technologies and equipment being produced. Also, altering and updatingthe security systems will keep terrorists on their toes and hopefully catch them before anyharm can be done. Although every system has its flaws, airport security should have the leastamount of errors possible since it is dealing with the safety of people’s lives. Since terroristshave been able to sneak through airport security, even after September 11, 2001, the
Parsons 2improvements being made are clearly not enough; therefore, additional advances need to beput in placeto keep people safe. Before September 11, 2001, terrorism was not a chief threat to air travelers, but airportsecurity systems still played a major role. The systems and technologies used focused onscreening passengers and baggage to detect suspicious people and dangerous items. TheComputer-Assisted Passenger Screening (CAPS) system allowed air carriers to separatepassengers more quickly in order to see which passengers required additional securityattention. Another source of equipment that was used before 9/11 is explosives detectiontechnologies, “devices that have the capability to detect the potential existence of explosivesthat can be concealed in carry-on or checked baggage” (Fultz 151). Lastly, there was aprocedure that matched checked bags to the passengers; this reduced the risk of concealedexplosives boarding an aircraft. However, some believed these security systems were a wasteof time, misuse of money, and essentially pointless since terrorism had not been a significantproblem in aviation. Bill Thompson says, “Air travelers are being subjected to all sorts ofexpensive, inconvenient security measures that do absolutely nothing to make travel safer,because their purpose is to combat a threat that doesn’t exist” (qtd. in Hahn 158). Somepeople felt that so much effort should not be put into airport security systems because therewas not a real need for it. If only these people had known that right around the corner was anevent that would change the viewpoints of airport security everywhere. Although September 11, 2001 opened the eyes of many people and caused otherprocedures and equipment to be implanted into the airport security networks, the technologiesare not always reliable. The book Opportunities to Improve Airport Passenger Screening with
Parsons 3Mass Spectrometry explains that airports began putting a big emphasis on protecting “thetraveling public from attacks on the commercial aviation system involving explosives” (1).Explosive detection systems (EDSs), similar to the explosives detection technologies used inairports previously, are designed to detect objects with dimensions and densities similar toexplosive materials. Explosive trace detectors (ETDs), another technology installed in airports,are used to detect vapor or particles of explosive material. Most of the material used to makebombs is “very sticky, and once a finger has been in contact with the explosive, it is capable ofleaving many subsequent fingerprints (on briefcases, clothes, boarding passes, etc.) withdetectable amounts of material” (Opportunities 1). Since explosive materials are likely to beleft behind, ETDs are effective in detecting the traces of explosives. X-ray machines are alsoequipment that airports use. Until recently, x-rays were the most common and maintechnology used in airports. However, x-rays are not enough in the modern war on terror. X-rays cannot detect plastic, a common ingredient in explosives, or tell the difference between abar of chocolate and TNT. The explosives in Richard Reid’s shoe were “impossible to see on x-ray” (Outsmarting Terror, “Airport/Airplane Security”). Metal detectors are very common aswell and used in airports worldwide, although they are “not successful at revealing nonmetalweapons or explosives” (Holbrook, par. 13). Additional technologies have been establishedsince September 11, 2001 that operate on the senses of sight and smell (Outsmarting Terror,“Airport/Airplane Security”). The article, “Airport Security: Privacy vs. Safety,” discusses thatsecurity procedures in airports have been modified and put in place in order to catch terrorists,but these have also brought about criticism. Full-body scanners and backscatter x-rays are themost controversial; people argue that these violate personal privacy and could cause health
Parsons 4problems. The millimeter wave scanner, a whole body-imaging device, makes clothing andother organic materials become translucent. Privacy is the major issue with full-body scanners;Representative Jason Chaffetz states, “You don’t need to look at my wife and 8-year-olddaughter naked in order to secure that airplane” (qtd. in Holbrook, par. 9). Backscatter x-raysuse radiation that reflects back from an object which forms a clear image on the screen. Thesedevices can also penetrate organic material like the millimeter wave scanner. On the otherhand, the concern and criticism received from these security systems could be a reason not touse the updated procedures. Many different technologies and procedures have been put inplace as a result of the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, but becauseof the continuous attempted terrorist attacks, these new systems are not enough. The attempted terrorist attacks that happened after 9/11 reveal airport security systemsare weak and should be strengthened. There are many gaps in airport security networks;William Daly, a former FBI investigator, says, “Airline security resembles swiss cheese, in thatthere are so many holes for terrorists to infiltrate airliners and airports” (qtd. in Holbrook, par.10). In the article, “The Gaps in Airport Security,”Hawley describes how in the United States,security responsibility is divided according to who performs the activity. He explains that theTransportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel, airportlaw enforcement officersandvendors allperform different tasks, sowhen there is a “systemicfailure” (Hawley, par. 1),allclaimthey did their part. Also, TSA publishes therequirements for each group, causingthree things tohappen: “vulnerability *becomes+ embedded where those measures are weak; the minimumrequired becomes the maximum undertaken by the security players; and the regulated partyfeels protected from blame because it did what was required” (Hawley, par. 3).When TSA
Parsons 5publishes the requirements, weaknesses are implanted into the system, and the officials only dothe minimum so when something goes wrong, they feel protected from blame. Hawleyproposes three ways to improve the security:several layers of security throughout the airportthat are frequently changing and appear random;everyonesharesresponsibility for securityoutcomes;and lastly, assessmentsof risk-management resources. The randomness of K-9 teamsand unpredicted inspections would prevent terrorists from recognizing a security gap andexploiting it. Next, the fear of blame within a security networkcauses administrative inactionandeventuallyleadsto holes in the system. Therefore, the ownership of security results must bejointly shared. Finally, riskmanagement should constantly be assessed to have effective security.Anothermethod that can help improve airport security is having well trained employees: Improving the training and testing of people hired by thesecompanies to screen passengers’baggage at airport security checkpoints would also improve aviation security. Regardless of advances in technology, the people who operate the equipment are the last and best line of defense against the introduction of any dangerous object into the aviation system. (Fultz 154)Nomatter what technology is used, well-educated employees could reduce security risksbecause they would know what to do. In“Tougher Aviation Security Measures Will Help ReduceTerrorism,” Fultz explains that vulnerabilityshould also be evaluatedand gives threerecommendations.First, theFederal Aviation Administration (FAA) could develop a standardizedmodel for conducting airportvulnerability assessments. Second, the FAA and FBIcouldassessthreats and vulnerabilities at high-risk airports together. Third, airports should
Parsons 6conduct vulnerability assessmentsperiodically.Peoplehavemade recommendations andsuggested ways to better the flawedsystems ofairportsecurity. Somereaders may challenge my view by insisting that every system or process has itsflaws. Therefore,it is only natural that aviation security systems have weaknesses. Icannotargue with this; everything does not work as planned. Unexpected events happen, andunpredicted situations occur. While it is true that every system has faults, there is no excuse formajorsecuritysystem mistakes because people’s lives are at stake. Since security systems dodeal with the safety of people’s lives, these errors should be as minimal as possible. Theindividuals in charge of airport security networks should do everything in their power toeliminate the possibility of mistakes. Oneminor error could have tragicresults. There is no roomfor careless mistakeswhen it comes to airport security systems. Inorder to keep people safe, airport security systems must neverstop improvingsinceterrorists have been able to sneak through security before and after 9/11.September 11,2001opened the eyes to many people ofthereal danger and threat of terrorism; people also saw theimportant role that airport security played inthe safety of people’s lives. Airport securitynetworks advanced as a result. However, as seen in the story,“Signal Detection,” good is notgood enough, and more should be done tobetter the security systems. The installationofnewtechnologies and establishmentofnew procedures are recommendations to enhancethesystems.These technologies and procedures should always be changing, though, in order tokeep terrorists guessing. Airport security systems areresponsible for the protection of peopleslives, and whileit is true that every system has faults, there is no excuse for security system
Parsons 7mistakes. Althoughairport security is such a hassle to go through, one should keep in mind theimportance of it. Ultimately, what is at stake here is the future of our country.
Parsons 8 WorksCitedCasey,Steven. “Signal Detection.”TheAtomic Chef: And Other True Tales of Design, Technology, and Human Error. NewYork: Aegean Publishing Company, 2006. 41-53.Print.Fultz,Keith O. “Tougher Aviation Security Measures Will Help Reduce Terrorism.” OpposingViewpoints: Terrorism.Ed.Laura K. Egendorf.SanDiego: GreenhavenPress, Inc., 2000. 148-155. Print.Opposing Viewpoints Series.Hahn,Robert W. “Tougher Aviation Security Measures Will Not Reduce Terrorism.” OpposingViewpoints: Terrorism.Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, Inc., 2000. 156-161.Print.Opposing Viewpoints Series.Hawley,Kip. “The Gaps in Airport Security.”LosAngeles Times(2011): n.pag.SIRSIssues Researcher.Web.04 Nov.2012.Holbrook, Emily. “Airport Security: Privacy vs. Safety.” RiskManagement 57.2(2010): n.pag. AcademicOneFile.Web.04 Nov.2012.Opportunitiesto Improve Airport Passenger Screeningwith Mass Spectrometry.NationalAcademies Press,2004.eBookCollection (EBSCOhost).Web. 06 Nov.2012.OutsmartingTerror.“Airport/Airplane Security.” Films Media Group, 2006. Filmson Demand.Web. 04 Nov. 2012 <http://storm.hgtc.edu:2048/login? url=http://digital.films.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=3503&xtid=40808&loid=90555>.