Previously in this series here. A reader who works in the main Citibank building in Manhattan writes to report:
My office building is the world headquarters of Citibank. In the wake of 9/11 they decided they needed increased security and so have required all bags and packages to go through an x-ray machine. You could be carrying Dirty Harry's revolver in a shoulder holster under your jacket,, or ten pounds of plastic explosive taped to your chest, but your attaché case had to be screened. Amazingly, after nearly nine years of doing this, they stopped this week, although the announcement from building management reassuringly told us that the x-ray machines are in storage and can be wheeled out at a moment's notice.
Within my experience, this is just about the only occasion in which security theater has not been subject to a one-way ratchet effect -- once a "security" measure is adopted, no matter how foolish it is, no one ever has the courage to discontinue it. Is there hope that the broader society will follow this brave beacon?
To the reader's final question: maybe we can find out who had the guts and good sense to make this decision about one (important) building in one (very important) city, and unleash that person to work on the "Threat Level is Orange" charts that symbolize security theater at its most mindless. As always, we take our good news where we can find it. I welcome any similar accounts of the security-theater ratchet being reversed.
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