Michael Chertoff on the TSA and “Security Theater”

Over at Boing Boing Gadgets there’s an interview with Michael Chertoff on the TSA and “Security Theater.” Towards the end of the interview excerpt, there’s this section.

Joel Johnson: Sir, I was really trying to avoid using this term [security theater] at all. But are you actually saying that security theater is an important aspect of actual security?

Secretary Chertoff: No. I don’t think it’s theater because I think the person who says this is kind of unrealistic and is kind of trying to be provocative. I don’t think they’re doing things for no reason to make sense, but I think understanding that visible security has a role to play is important. It is a deterrent.

Joel Johnson: Well, sure. But theater also means…theater has a purpose, too, to express a meaning.

Secretary Chertoff: Yeah. I mean, the problem is, I think the term is not meant to be…it’s meant to be pejorative. It’s meant to suggest that it’s like a puppet show.

I know it’s narrow and job specific thing to be annoyed about, but really? Do you have to pick on the puppet shows?

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7 Responses

  1. Veejane


    Of course he has to pick on the puppet shows. Singing and dancing musical extravaganzas just don’t cause that stark terror that the right kind of uncanny valley puppet can create! Puppets of this sort could be scarier, but only if they are puppets made to look like clowns!

  2. steve buchheit

    He was going to say that the phrase makes the TSA look like Science Fiction, but he figured “puppet shows” would piss off fewer people.

    Now just think how Dick Cheney feels. I mean, he’s been producing the longest running puppet show in DC.

  3. Jen

    Things really have gotten a bit surreal when the security agency of the most powerful nation on the planet is using puppet shows as an illustration of anything at all. With no disrespect to puppet shows intended, what’s next? “Waldorf and Statler- a new deconstruction of international diplomatic language. OOOHHHH…hahahaha.”