I stood in one of these incredibly long lines at LAX (and finally understood why everyone I met in LA hates Bush). A RAND corporation study and a GAO report confirms what I thought while standing on the side of the road for half an hour, inhaling fumes (luckily it was sunny, a beautiful day in Southern California)--Long lines of people waiting to get to their flights can attract terrorists.
Here's the Los Angeles Times story. Money quote: "Long lines at airports are 'the single greatest vulnerability that we have in the domestic U.S. at the moment,' said aviation consultant Billie Vincent, a former Federal Aviation Administration security chief. The General Accounting Office released a report this week that said heightened screening procedures and truck-sized explosives-detection machines in airport lobbies — added after 9/11 — had created crowds that put passengers at risk. 'In the '70s, gangs in Europe entered airports and machine-gunned and killed people,' said Stephen Van Beek, policy director for Airports Council International-North America. 'Terrorists know if they did that today, it would be highly publicized.'"
BTW, A number of people missed flights due to the long lines and security hassles, so had to try to fly standby, and then one didn't even get on my flight, which was full, so he had to wait for the next one. Not too good for business or the LA tourist industry, I thought. And I wondered, after the humiliation of taking off my shoes, and my jacket, and taking my laptop out, and so forth: Whatever happened to constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure, don't they apply to air travellers?