Felix Salmon

Unsafe security

Felix Salmon
Apr 13, 2010 15:57 UTC

Matt Yglesias reacts to the tone-deaf military reaction to the horrific crushing-to-death of a 68-year-old woman by a five-ton military truck on Monday:

The fact that people conducting a security operation on American soil can’t even react to accidentally killing an old lady by saying “we’re sorry we killed that woman” rather than lets “make sure the pedestrian didn’t run into the truck as it was moving” doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.

He’s completely right, of course. (And it’s worth noting that she wasn’t, actually, a pedestrian: she was on her bike.)

It’s worth recalling the experience of Sean Medlock, who was also hit (but, thankfully, not killed) by a government vehicle while he was crossing the street in Washington. The main repercussion of that incident was that Medlock got served with a $20 jaywalking ticket — while he was lying on a gurney — for walking diagonally across an intersection four blocks away from where he was hit.

After that incident, the Daily Caller put together a handy brief history of US security vehicle accidents. The main lesson of that list seems to be that it’s not only innocent bystanders who risk their lives when they inadvertently end up near a motorcade; it’s also the motorcade staffers themselves. It’s long past time, I think, that someone takes a very hard look at the safety procedures surrounding these things. Or, rather, the lack thereof.


Now you can try to imagine what the average Iraqi or Afghan feels they have to deal with…

Posted by Pasher | Report as abusive

Airport security datapoint of the day

Felix Salmon
Nov 9, 2009 00:26 UTC

The GAO reports on the TSA. File under “why doesn’t this surprise me”:

TSA lacks assurance that its investments in screening technologies address the highest priority security needs at airport passenger checkpoints. Since TSA’s creation, 10 passenger screening technologies have been in various phases of research, development, test and evaluation, procurement, and deployment, but TSA has not deployed any of these technologies to airports nationwide… Deployment has been initiated for four technologies–the ETP in January 2006, and the advanced technology systems, a cast and prosthesis scanner, and a bottled liquids scanner in 2008… in the case of the ETP, although TSA tested earlier models, the models ultimately chosen were not operationally tested before they were deployed to ensure they demonstrated effective performance in an operational environment. Without operationally testing technologies prior to deployment, TSA does not have reasonable assurance that technologies will perform as intended.

(Via Fallows)


Last year I tried to hand carry a bag that contained an emperor’s piece of antique out of Shanghai airport. I wasn’t sure if that could be legally done. So I put also a big bottle of Bonaqua flat right under zipper. The security staff felt proud, from facial expression, to have spotted my Bonaqua via their machine. They were not interested to look for anything else. My bag passed, except the water, as I intended.

Posted by Hoffman | Report as abusive

Men with guns

Felix Salmon
Jun 4, 2009 13:26 UTC

A few weeks ago I noticed an armed private security guard outside the new Bank of America tower on 42nd Street; today there were two, both sporting Wackenhut logos on their shoulders. These aren’t some paramilitary Hercules team sporting machine guns, they’re just guys with sidearms patrolling the sidewalk in front of a bank. Which might be normal in Charlotte, I don’t know, but is certainly not something I ever remember seeing in NYC. Any idea what purpose these guys are meant to be serving? And are they going to be there permanently?


I worked middle management in the Custom Protection Officer division and was also a Trainer for the B.P.O(bank protection officer)What a joke bank of America is.
These ofiicers are basicallly,as one off duty cop put it-”Cigar store indian”.TheBPO is not allowed in the bank except to go to the bath-room and must stand in the same spot for 8 hrs.When the would be robber walks past the BPO in to the bank and commences to rob said bank,the BPO has no way of knowing what is going inside,as there is no direct commo with anyone inside.The BPO’s post orders state he is not to get inviolved in ANY altercation,just call 911-that is if he even knows whats going on.If the said robber walks in inconspicuously and exits the same way,more than likely the BPO will not even know the bank was being robbed until after the thief has tipped his hat on the way out !!!

Posted by Greg Norton | Report as abusive