Airport Screening Manual Leaked: Are Flyers Less Safe?

Many observers say no. But that doesn't mean the country's airports were safe to begin with.

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Tuesday night, the Transportation Security Agency accidentally published its airport screening manual online, a document pundits are calling a "how-to for terrorists." Some news outlets trumpeted the leak as a "massive security breach," as the documents contained samples of CIA identification cards and information on special rules for diplomats. But many others were nonplussed. They admit that while the breach doesn't build confidence in the TSA, it doesn't make air travel any more dangerous than it already was. Why the leaked TSA documents are a non-scandal:

  • TSA Isn't There to Keep Us Safe Anyway The Atlantic's own Jeffrey Goldberg puts forth a disturbing proposition. "Anyone with a brain (or half-a-brain) has already doped out some very easy ways to bypass TSA security procedures, which are in place mainly to make the public feel that the federal government is protecting them, when it is, in fact, not."
  • Docs Reveal Nothing the Terrorists Don't Already Know Outside the Beltway's James Joyner says "some of what's now been revealed would have been easy enough to guess. Presumably, al Qaeda isn't going to send people with Saudi and Yemeni passports to blow up planes, anyway."
  • At Least We Found the Leak Before the Terrorists Did At Cato@Liberty, Jim Harper says "we're better off when it fails this way than when we learn the hard way that someone found an exploit."
  • The Leak Is Only as Stupid as the TSA Gawker's John Cook takes it away. "Members of Congress, children under 12, and uniformed military servicemembers are exempted from special screening even if they're marked for it," he writes. "Which is great, because we know that, say, Army officers can't present a special security threat that might merit scrutiny."
  • Makes Flying More Dangerous Hot Air's Ed Morrissey disagrees. "People flying now are at higher risk, thanks to the exposure of this information," he writes. "It almost certainly means that TSA will have to change these procedures, which will mean longer waits at security checkpoints for the foreseeable future, as they attempt to close the breach they themselves created."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.