This is real security

Zbigniew Brzezinski, a prominent political scientist, recently wrote an interesting article in Washington Post – Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’ (How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America). It’s an analysis of the recent change in American mentality and a worthwhile reading. But there’s something that Dr. Brzezinski gets just wrong:


Just last week, here in Washington, on my way to visit a journalistic office, I had to pass through one of the absurd “security checks” that have proliferated in almost all the privately owned office buildings in this capital — and in New York City. A uniformed guard required me to fill out a form, show an I.D. and in this case explain in writing the purpose of my visit. Would a visiting terrorist indicate in writing that the purpose is “to blow up the building”? Would the guard be able to arrest such a self-confessing, would-be suicide bomber? To make matters more absurd, large department stores, with their crowds of shoppers, do not have any comparable procedures. Nor do concert halls or movie theaters. Yet such “security” procedures have become routine, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and further contributing to a siege mentality. 


An apparent failure to apply Occam’s razor. The war on terror isn’t the reason for screening visitors to the office buildings. It’s a layer of physical security that exists to protect private property. It makes computer and office equipment theft, a universal problem in such environments, harder. Therefore the checks aren’t all absurd.


And producing an ID isn’t necessary.  Such requirements can be (and sometimes should be) successfully challenged. Here’s How To Fly Without ID. That works. Similarly, if you’re invited to a meeting, you don’t have to prove your right (or permission) to attend. That’s not like crossing border of a foreign country.


 Don’t confuse real security for stupid security. There is a fine line between the two.

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