Thursday, February 01, 2007

"It had a very sinister appearance. It had a battery behind it, and wires."

What else is there to say about yesterday's marketing gimmick gone awry in Boston except that city and state officials should be deeply embarassed? Bruce Schneier has a good post covering the madness. He also points to a story in the Boston Globe where:

Of the 2,449 inspections between Oct. 10 and Dec. 31, the bags of 27 riders tested positive in the initial screening for explosives, prompting further searches, the Globe found in an analysis of daily inspection reports obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

In the additional screening, 11 passengers had their bags checked by explosive-sniffing dogs, and 16 underwent a physical search. Nothing was found.

Still, MBTA officials said the searches have been effective at thwarting potential terrorists and have been supported by passengers.

How in the hell can you determine their effectiveness if you haven't caught anyone? To crudely gauge the veracity of the latter statement, there is a poorly-constructed electronic poll:

Should the MBTA continue its random bag searches?
Yes: the random searches serve as a deterrent to future terrorist attacks.
No: the searches are a violation of privacy.

Not offered was the option "No: the searches are completely useless."

There was at least one bright spot in the story:

...records show that six riders refused to have their bags inspected and were asked to leave the stations. All complied, but some not without some harsh words, according to the inspection reports.


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