In the November issue of the Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg offers more evidence that airport security is mostly to make it seem like somebody is doing something, and is not in fact protecting you much:
[B]ecause I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and
because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded
knickknacks, I've amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts,
Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat
dolls (really). All these things I've carried with me through airports
across the country. I've also carried, at various times: pocketknives,
matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of
rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers . . . and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening
four times—out of dozens of passages through security
checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was
relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving
If terrorist groups now sell "branded knicknacks," does that mean we won?
Link: Jeffrey Goldberg, "The Things He Carried," The Atlantic (Nov. 2008) (an article that also contains the phrase, "Hezbollah gift shop").