Are we safe yet?

x-ray of a suitcase containing a gun

I don't think so

Despite the passage of five years and the expenditure of billions of dollars, airport security remains a farce.

This morning an article in the Washington Post caught my eye. Screeners at Baltimore-Washington International airport (BWI) spotted a gun in one of two bags carried by a male passenger. The man's first bag had already been cleared, and he simply left the second bag with the loaded gun behind. The terminals were cleared while authorities searched for the man. Although they couldn't find him, the TSA re-screened all the other passengers out of "an abundance of caution" and resumed business as usual.

A spokesman said, "It [the gun] did not make it into the sterile area, but the passenger had left the checkpoint, so out of an abundance of caution we swept the terminal." And this is supposed to be a success?

Let's consider the possibilities:

The man didn't know he wasn't supposed to take a loaded gun on the plane in his carry-on. Simply not plausible. No one can possibly believe, after five years of all-terror all-the-time, that toothpaste is prohibited but a loaded gun is OK.

The man forgot he was carrying a second bag with a loaded gun. He was so relieved that screeners didn't notice the toothpaste in the first bag that he just put his shoes back on and went on his way with relief. Could happen, I suppose; people are always leaving things behind at the check-point.

The screener spots the gun but doesn't think to alert any of the other TSA personnel to stop people from leaving the area. Could be; watching blurry images of people's underwear could numb anybody's mind.

The man is a decoy to draw attention away from the real terrorist ahead of him in line. Hmmm; now that has possibilities.

None of these is very reassuring. The man is clearly a threat, and he did make it into the "sterile area." Airports are simply crawling with TSA guards and screeners; cameras are everywhere; and they can't find this guy in a confined area? I mean really — How much time could have elapsed between the guy walking through the metal detector and the spotting of the gun? Surely not time enough for him to have put his shoes back on, proceeded to his gate, boarded an aircraft, and gone on his way!

We're spending billions on what amounts to an elaborate charade designed to make us think we're being protected when we're really not.

It is to weep. Because of the incompetence. Because of the way we play along with the game.