How effective has the TSA been in preventing terrorist attacks in planes travelling to and from the United States?
closed as off topic by Borror0♦ Dec 20 '11 at 9:08
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The only thing the TSA has managed to do that is measurable is subdue and annoy the US public at the same time.
The current TSA rules (and those in the UK and many other countries) keep being proven to fail. They are all designed to prevent an attack like one of the previous ones (as well as showing the public that 'something' is being done.)
All terrorists have to do is come up with new ideas. Or even keep using the same ones - this list of hijackings at Wikipedia shows that people can get hold of aeroplanes.
For some examples check out the entries in the last 5 years' worth of the Movie Plot Threat competition - Some excellent ideas in there, which would not be hindered at all by the Department of Homeland Security or the TSA - in fact at risk of sounding like a Schneier sycophant, these two links are also very interesting:
Admittedly El Al's sky marshal policy of the last 35 years does look like a good one.
But to be honest, the risk is so small, the amounts spent on this almost beggar belief. Use the interactive chart at GTD and select 'by weapon type'. Out of over 80,000 terrorist attacks, 40 were using a vehicle as the weapon. And that includes cars, trucks etc. Search by type of attack, and hijacking is the lowest category.