Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Airport security

I'm sure I am missing something here. We've had the shoe bomber, trying to set alight an explosive substance hidden in his shoe, some 8 or so years ago. The bloke travels without luggage and on a one-way ticket. Ever since we have been terrorised by security experts taking away our perfumes (ie perfumes bought prior to entering the duty free area), water (yes, water!), coke, fruit juices and any number of other substances that are utterly safe. Hectoliters of these fluids were destroyed for no good reason at all. Then, 8 years later comes an explosives laden guy who flies on a one-way ticket, without luggage from Yemen to Europe to the USA. Nobody notices anything. His water they might have taken away from him, but not his explosives!

Rightly so comedians such as Jon Stewart made light of the fact that the most recent case mimicks more or less the case we've had 8 years ago. What fascinates me, however, is that we have screening mechanisms in place that manage to succeed in finding a bottle of water on me, but that fail (8 years later) to find explosives. Makes you surely wonder what those gazillions of $$ were spent on during those years. I can't help but think that the primary objective was psychological, namely to hope that actual terrorists wouldn't call the security agencies' bluff (ie their continuing inability to reliably identify oddball travelers like our would-be terrorist and, most bizarre to my mind, their continuing inability to identify explosives on the traveling public). There we queue for all those hours, are unable to take toothpaste onto planes, yet would have no serious difficulty taking explosives along. Is it just me who thinks 'incompetent'?

No doubt we will soon be terrorized by ever more inane procedures. I've heard that I won't be able to go to the loo an hour before landing, there won't be blankets (on those bloody cold overnight flights). There will be never-ending security this-n-that's on flights to the USA (could please the rest of the world retaliate and ask the same of US travellers, so they must also wait forever), and that's about that. Oh well, when you thought things couldn't get much worse in terms of international air travel.

4 comments:

  1. " ... we have screening mechanisms in place that manage to succeed in finding a bottle of water on me, but that fail (8 years later) to find explosives. Makes you surely wonder what those gazillions of $$ were spent on during those years ..."

    It's almost as if during that period there was an incompetent American administration in place. Oh, wait ...

    It's also a bit sad (and telling) that we have to rely on comedians to give us the best analysis: Jon Stewart's point about the similarities between the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber (as he said, the method of terrorism just moving up the length of an inseam ;-)) was among the most cogent I heard anywhere.

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  2. Look at it this way: less air travel will slow down global warming! There is always a silver lining.

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  3. It seems to me that the psychological effect was not so much to deter the terrorists as it was to convince the public that flying was OK. In other words, the air security is no more real than theater.

    bud

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