Today's Security Theater update

Previously on the Security Theater concept here, here, here, and here, for starters.

1) From the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, or AOPA, a pro-small plane aviation lobbying group (of which I'm a member),  indication that the Obama administration's general freeze on last-minute Bush regulations and diktats might stop implementation of one of the stupidest, least defensible, most purely theatric "security" measures, the creation of a permanent Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, over Washington DC. Yes, the Guantanamo orders are more important. But this could be significant too.

2) Conference summary, with video and links, from Cato's conference just before the inauguration on "Shaping the Obama Administration's Counterterrorism Strategy." Wide-ranging, useful to hear as the Obama team considers what, if anything, is worth preserving from the Bush "global war on terror." Useful complementary essay here.

3) Yesterday I drive to DC National Airport for the first time in more than a year and see the same big neon sign I remember so unfondly from days gone by.  Security Threat Level: Orange.

Really, what is the point of this? 99.9% of the people who look at it don't even see it any more, since it's just part of the "boy who cried wolf" ignorable background. Anyone who does think about it has to wonder: is there a threat to the entire country? Just to Washington? Is there new information? Is there anything different I'm supposed to do? Does this sign have any purpose other than to make me just a little bit more fearful and a little bit more accepting of anything done in the name of "security"?

Yes, there are serious ongoing genuine threats to the safety of people in this country and many others, and we need to support all shrewd, effective measures to deter them. But does it occur to no one in the government that we do terrorists' work for them by making our own population cower all the time, rather than to be brave in the face of danger? Taking his lead from President Reagan, President Obama can say: "Transportation Security Administration, Tear Down This Sign!"

4) Someone has finally seen how security theater can become part of our economic stimulus plan. Playmobil is offering new action toys:


I grew up playing with little toy Army men who refought Gettysburg and Okinawa. My kids grew up with Star Wars action figures. Isn't it heartwarming to think of today's kids growing up with toy TSA security screeners! (Thanks to Gavin Bradley for this tip.)