Why No Fly Lists And Naked Body Scanners Don’t Work

Cracked has an interesting article on some safety measures that aren’t making us safer: bike helmets, sunscreen, gated communities, self-exams for breast cancer and of course, the TSA. They focus on two tools from the agency’s complete failure of a toolbox.

The Underwear Bomber wasn't on the no-fly list


The no-fly lists don’t work because even if you’re on one, you can easily get around it with a 150$ fake ID. But beyond that, the lists themselves are broken:

  • Most of the names that are on them are, as famous security expert Bruce Schneier put it, of “people so dangerous they cannot be allowed to fly under any circumstance, yet so innocent we can’t arrest them even under the Patriot Act.”
  • There are about a million people on the list, but the 11 British ones that were going to blow up planes with liquid explosives (which is why we can’t bring liquid containers over 3oz on planes anymore) were not on the list, even though they had been under surveillance for a year. Neither was the Christmas Day underwear bomber, in spite of the fact that his own father called the US government to warn them about him.
  • The cost of maintaining the ineffective list and turning planes around costs us about 100m$ a year.

And we’ve seen before that the naked body scanners are horrendously error-prone, but it turns out that while they pick up things like cell phones, they miss bomb-making components. Even if they did pick them up in your pockets though, they would still completely miss them if you had them inside your body — 160m$ worth of machines thwarted by a large rectum.

From Cracked, via Neatorama


  1. TSA: What Cancer? | Apt46 - pingback on December 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm
  2. The TSA’s Naked Body Scanners Are Even More Useless | Apt46 - pingback on March 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

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