Belts and the TSA – Why, oh Why?

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November 16, 2010 · 2 comments

in Security News, Security Theater

The TSA (US) has decided that everyone needs to remove their belts when going through airport security checkpoints. As usual, there’s an uproar (and as usual, it’s a small one) among people who think this is an absolute outrage, something that’s never been done before, not being done anywhere else, and something that there’s absolutely no justifying, whatsoever.

Well, there might be a point in the internet ravings this time. Removing belts has been a standard procedure in many, many countries for years and years when going through security checkpoints. Why? Because if you set off the metal detector, you’re going to get a pat-down, no matter what. That hasn’t been the SOP in the US up until now – if you set off the metal detector, you would just be sent back out to either remove your belt or your watch or whatever happened to set the damn beeping thing off.

In these times of “naked scanning” and “kiddie-porn machines”, there’s a lot more to the checkpoint than some guy waving a “wand” somewhere in your vicinity if you fail the initial metal detector test. The TSA says that the reason for the new regulations is that belts will interfere with the new “body scanners”, and that even when the checkpoint doesn’t have one of these fancy gadgets, the procedure should be “unified” across the board, and every passenger (and crewmember) has to take their belts off.

Body Scanner Image

This last point is what makes little sense. If the passenger has a non-metallic belt buckle, there should be no reason for them to have to take the belt off, since any concealed weapons in or behind the belt will be revealed either by the metal detector or a pat-down. Taking off someone’s clothes is an invasion of privacy from the get-go, and making it worse by taking off some items that are, for some reason or other, more sensitive than others will always make the process more of a burden than necessary, defeating some of the point of an automated, standardized procedure to security clear every single passenger, or person wishing to enter the restricted area.

In any case, while the TSA‘s latest efforts are misguided at best, the “outcry” from the internet “experts” (yes, like these) is the same. Moaning about how things shouldn’t be is a far cry from coming up with an alternative or a better method. Which would be no problem for these experts to come up with, right? After all, they do know so much better than everyone else. Right?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

SS March 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Good points, Bruce. Even though the news are a bit stale, that doesn’t mean it’s not still an issue. Unfortunately, the TSA hasn’t amended their procedure on this. Anyone have a different take on the belt procedures the TSA has been using since 2010?

Bruce March 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm

I am about 30 pounds overweight and to expect me or anyone that is wearing loose fitting clothes to take off their belt can only eventually lead to a very embarrassing situation. Besides my belt has gone through security for years without problem due to the low level of metal in this accessory.

The TSA is having another knee jerk reaction to someones perceived idea that that this could be a problem. Maybe someone with a bit of logic should start making decisions instead of some undereducated flunky that thinks the sky is falling.

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