Six years after 9-11, have we learned how to prevent terrorism? Perhaps, as there has not been a successful attack in the U.S. since then. On the other hand, it is hard to defend our current approach to airport security. After watching the TSA subject a three-year-old to the explosives-sniffing "blower" at an airport, my friend Amos Guiora, formerly a counter-terrorism specialist with the Israeli Defense Forces, wonders "where are we?"
What does subjecting a 3-year-old to the blower unattended by a parent (his mother went through the blower previously) tell me?
It tells me that we have yet to begin risk assessment and analysis, identifying legitimate threats has not been begun and sophisticated cost-benefit analysis of counter-terrorism is apparently in its infancy. How dangerous is this? Very.
As long as 3-year-old boys are made to go through blowers at airport security lines, we clearly are not focusing our limited resources on genuine threats. Rather than develop sophisticated prototyping models, we only hear "you have been selected for a random search."
Of course, this assumes that airport security is really about preventing terrorist attacks, as opposed to sufficiently inconveniencing air travelers so they feel a bit more secure.
UPDATE: In a related vein, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton ask "Are We Safer?"