security, and other laughing matters
Do you know why security in this country is a farce and a joke? Do you know why we could seal the borders tomorrow and people who wanted to get into the U.S. would still be able to? Because some friendly, good-natured, gullible jackass can always be counted on to let them in.
Having some experience as a "Professional Security Officer" (Christ, how those words make me cringe), I can fairly accurately verify that she is exactly right on this.
First, there's the security itself. Most folks working security are...well, they're generally good people. Honest people. But security dosen't pay well and offers zero adavancement, so they generally don't attract the highest quality candidate. The upside is that, given proper training and managment, security isn't a terribly difficult job. Just follow the rules. If the rules are structured so that they make it clear what is and isn't allowed, baseline officers usually do this job pretty well. Much to everyone's annoyance, of course.
The first breakdown is management. If the guards are poorly trained or poorly educated, it isn't their fault, it's whoever is in charge's fault. In the army, the saying is that "A soldier is only as good as their leadership", which isn't true in all situations, but is in an awful lot of them.
The next, and one of the biggest, breakdowns comes from the people who security is suppossed to be protecting.
As an example: I used to work security at a R&D facility for a large tech-industry corporation. Security there was wicked, and generally on the ball. Lots of high-tech, expensive equipment, a very smart staff and capable management. But if an employee wanted to flout these rules, all he needed was one phone call.
Unfortuantly, it happened fairly often; and not just with stupid rules. This was place where you couldn't be hired to mop the bathrooms if you had had a misdemeanor charge ten years ago. But if Mr. Hussein, an employee, wanted Mr. Bin Laden to have free access to the building, then hey, he got it.
Much to the disgust of the security staff, but after all, we just follow rules. Alot of the rules are stupid, but we enforce them anyway. Until an employee wants an unscreened foreign student to have full access to the building; then all those rules don't matter.
That is what Ilyka is talking about. Most Americans, really, still think security rules are stupid and an interferance. They don't want to be hassled coming into an office building, or when getting on an airplane, or coming back from vacation in Mexico, or when trying to get into a supposedly secure apartment complex. And because the general perception is that these rules are stupid and useless (Because hey, what could happen?), they have no problem violating them. Even ranking officials fall victim to it; rather than having someone be inconvinenced, they bend the rules.
There was alot of things about the army I didn't like, but at least there rules were rules. If you don't meet the criteria to come on base, then hey, guess what: fuck off. Dosen't matter who you are or who you call, the security personnel have the absolute perrogative to kick your ass out.
Dosen't work that way in the civilian sector. In everything from immigration to corporate security, people bend and break whatever minimal rules have been set on a daily basis. Maybe someday that will change, but it will take a large-scale and personal (read: one that affects you directly) crisis to make that happen. And, of course, by that time, it's too late anyway.