In recent years, there has been a welter of complaints among Americans about heavy-handed airport security procedures. Little wonder: since 2001, the US has heavily increased overall homeland security at a cost of more than $1,000bn and one consequence has been endless airport X-ray machines, body scanners, CCTV cameras and pat-downs, which many Americans hate. 最近几年,美国人仍然对过分严苛的机场安全检查程序怨声载道。这也不该:2001年以来,美国从整体上大大强化国土安全性,投放的资金多达1万亿美元。后果之一就是机场无数的X光机、全身扫描机、监控摄像机,还有很多美国人鄙视的搜查。

But these days I have quite a different reason to feel profoundly irritated with airline security. Last week, my hand luggage mysteriously vanished as it went through those X-ray machines in JFK. And, to my shock, I have subsequently discovered that there is no way of telling what happened, since improved CCTV only covers part of the airport. 但最近这些天,由于几乎有所不同的一个原因,我对机场安全检查深感无比苦恼。最近在迪机场(JFK),我的手提行李在经过X光机的时候谜样消失。让我深感惊讶的是,后来我找到显然就无法查询究竟再次发生了什么情况,因为经过提高的闭路电视只监控机场的部分地区。Hence, I am not only feeling annoyed. I am also wondering afresh about the social and psychological impact of all these cameras. Has all that trillion-dollar security spending actually made us safer? Or do such elaborate screening rituals cause us to turn off our brains? And how do we define safety anyway, at a time when political candidates for the 2012 election keep bandying about the word security? 因此,我不仅实在苦恼,还开始猜测所有这些摄像机带给的社会和心理影响。

上万亿美元的安全性投放知道让我们更加安全性了吗?或是这些简单的筛查套路让我们的大脑显得幼稚?说到底,在2012年议会选举的候选人都在大吹大擂安全性这个字眼的时候,我们该如何定义安全性? My own story was grimly revealing. Last month, late one Friday night, I flew to England on American Airlines, via JFK. Since I was travelling to family celebrations, I had most of my favourite clothes with me in a black wheelie bag, which I took as hand luggage, ironically because I did not want to risk losing my belongings (according to a recent CBS report there are more than 200 reported thefts a day from checked luggage at JFK). 我自己的经历就甚能解释问题。上个月一个周五的深夜,我从肯尼迪机场搭乘美国航空公司的飞机前往英国。


Since it was late at night, the airport was half-empty, so I navigated the ticket line with ease and, half asleep, loaded my black bags on to the X-ray machine. But then, as I went into the body scanners, I looked away. And when I re-emerged, my black wheelie bag had completely disappeared. 因为早已是深夜,机场完全是半空的,因此我精彩办理登记手续,然后(在半睡眠状态下)将我的黑色行李包放在X光机的传送带上。但随后,当我经过全身扫描机的时候,我把视线卡住了。等我走进扫描机的时候,我那黑色的滑轮包在就不见踪影了。

Shocked, I hunted around the X-ray machine ausing consternation among the guards and then we all dashed to the only other flight that was departing at the same time, to Qatar, to see if someone had my bag. But nobody on my flight, or the Qatar flight, confessed to taking it, and since the bag was scruffy, with a very wobbly handle, a mix-up seemed unlikely. Thus, when it had still not reappeared after several days, I came to the sad conclusion that somebody had probably stolen it, along with my favourite dresses. Or as Raymond Dilena, the charming police detective on my case, observed: With the ID you had in the bag, and the tag, I think it should have turned up by now, so I kind of agree with you about it being stolen. 愤慨之余,我开始在X光机周围可怕地找寻,引起了警卫们的一阵混乱,接着我们都冲出唯一一个在完全相同时间降落的航班的登机口,那是飞抵卡塔尔(Qatar)的,看是不是人拿了我的包在。但不管是我乘坐的航班还是飞抵卡塔尔的航班,都没有人否认拿了我的包在。


由于我的包在十分破旧,手柄还是摇摇晃晃的,拿错是不太可能的。因此,几天之后它依然没经常出现,我就悲伤地推断,很有可能有人偷走了那个摆放我最喜欢的衣服的包在。用那位甚有魅力的警探雷蒙德-戴雷娜(Raymond Dilena)的话说道,既然包里有你的身份证件,外面还挂着标签,现在早已应当被送来回去了,因此我也实在它有可能是被偷走了。

But, I asked, why not just scan all those cameras to see who picked it up? That, it turned out, was impossible: though the CCTV cameras had filmed me as I placed my bag on to the X-ray belt, There was no camera coverage on the exit side of the machine, Dilena explained. Apparently, the Port Authority, which oversees those CCTV cameras, films the entry, but not the exit to the X-ray machines. 但我又回答了,为什么不想到监控视频,看究竟是谁拿的?不料这是不有可能的:尽管监控摄像头拍到了我把包在放在X光机传送带上的画面,但机器出口的地方不出摄像头的覆盖面积范围内。戴雷娜说明说道。

似乎,主管这些监控摄像头的港务局(Port Authority)只摄制X光机的入口,而不管X光机的出口。This is bizarre, and thought-provoking for several reasons. Most obviously, it should serve as a warning for other travellers. To be fair, the Transport Security Administrations own website does try to warn passengers about the risks of X-ray machines, noting that passengers should ALWAYS watch your belongings as they advance through the X-ray equipment at the security checkpoints for secondary screening, INSIST that your belongings be brought to you! But it is sometimes impossible to do that in body scanners, and many people (like me) get lulled into a false sense of safety, precisely because there are lots of police are around. Little wonder, then, that the TSA says that while thefts from X-ray lines are not common, they occur, usually because people whip things out of bags, such as wallets. Just because someone has bought a plane ticket doesnt make them trustworthy, one TSA official explains. 这十分怪异也有一点深思,原因有以下几点。


因而也就不该,尽管运输安全性管理局回应X光机传送带上偷窃的事故不少见,但显然也不会再次发生,一般来说是因为人们把钱包等东西从包里拿出来。运输安全性管理局的一名官员说明说道,意味着因为某人买了飞机票,并无法解释他们老实。That points to a bigger question: namely whether this surveillance spend is lulling us into a false sense of security in a wider sense. The TSA and other Washington agencies insist that they need to keep spending heavily because the terrorist threat is very real. But some critics in Congress are now questioning whether this surveillance is effective, either in security or cash terms. 这让人意识到了一个更大的问题:巨额的安全检查支出否在更加普遍的意义上让我们陷于一种安全性错觉。


运输安全性管理局和华盛顿的其他机构坚决指出,他们必须保持这笔极大的支出,因为恐怖主义威胁是贯彻不存在的。但现在美国国会的一些抨击人士对这种安全检查在安全性和现金两方面的有效性明确提出了批评。In truth, settling this debate either way is tough, since so much data is secret. There is no public information, for example, on whether the bizarre practice of filming only half an X-ray machine is widespread, or whether I was just unlucky. Nor are there any statistics on how many bag disappearances occur at security checkpoints, or whether these are thefts. 实质上,这场辩论很难得出结论具体结果,因为很多数据都是保密的。比如说,人们无法告诉只摄制X光机一半的怪异作法是不是普遍存在,或是说道我只是运气很差。

也没任何关于安全检查处有多少行李包遗失的统计数据,或者说这些遗失否是因为被盗。As it happens, my own particular story has a happy ending: a week after my bag first vanished it reappeared in the hands of a delightfully friendly American Airline employee in Dallas, seemingly with its contents intact (though I have yet to see the bag to verify it.) But the mystery of why it vanished in the first place will never be resolved without CCTV footage. Either way, the whole experience has been a potent wake-up call. Security is not always as secure as we like to hope. 我的这次奇遇最后以有缘收场:消失一周之后,我的包在再一经常出现在达拉斯机场一位友好热情的美国航空员工手上,里面的东西或许没被动过(尽管我还必须亲眼看到包在,检查一下)。但是,没监控视频,这个包在谜样消失的原因是总有一天无法水落石出的。