Monday, December 28, 2009

The Underpants Bomber

I debated whether the Christmas Day Underpants Bomber was worthy of a blog post. I wasn't at all surprised. We're still threatened by terrorists? No shit. I wasn't intrigued. Somebody tried to bring down an airliner? You're kidding me? And I wasn't frightened. Dangers exist in the world? Even on Christmas?

The modus operandi of this near disaster was funny though... like something from every wannabe comedian's act. Will TSA ask us to take off our underpants now? Well, not if airports get these naked scanners:

The real story here is our reaction. That's all we do when it comes to security -- react. It starts with the 24-hour news channel coverage loop which is clearly designed to scare the shit out of us. Then, TSA implements new flight restrictions like asking passengers to stay in their seats for the last hour of the flight. So now any potential terrorist has to launch his plot 65 minutes before landing. Golly, that ought to stop them.

The fact is that every "security hole" we plug has existed since the beginning of commercial flights. That's right. We've always been at the mercy of liquid bombers, shoe-bombers, and underpants-bombers. When somebody actually attempts it, we react. And then somebody will attempt something else, and the fear feeds the endless loop, and maybe one day the airports will give us all paper hospital gowns, anesthetize us, and still.. somebody will find a way to cause harm.

At least one security expert has it right. Bruce Schneier has been saying this for years:
Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.
Everything else is a useless, knee-jerk reaction. As a nation, we still act ridiculously naive on these issues.

Anyway, I'm going back to playing with my Christmas toys. Stay safe.


pinkpackrat said...

There is something sad and comical about this guy, isn't there?

People in the Sun said...

I'm willing to support the naked screens, but I might have to take Extenze before.

JamaGenie said...

On a 2003 overseas flight I was allowed to board with a beach umbrella - with all those potential garrets - but not a pair of manicure scissors. On the return flight from Heathrow, while my well-worn tennies were being inspected by a guard, a very lethal shard from a 1685 glass wine jug in my carryon went undetected by the scanner. Later at O'Hare - the last leg of the trip - the scanner *did* pick up that the shaft of my hair brush was a steel shaft, but it wasn't confiscated.

Since then, I made a mental list of items that've never been banned in carryons, but which could be used to murder every passenger on board. Big whoop that the cockpit door is reinforced - that only means the pilots could land a plane intact but still have a planeload of dead pasengers.

The post-9/11 restrictions have done nothing to make air travel safer, only make commercial flying a total nightmare to be avoided when possible.

And you are sooooo right about the last-hour rule being worthless - the next Knickers Bomber **will** make his move 65 minutes before landing. After that, passengers won't be allowed to leave their seats for *any* reason during a flight.

Better to return to the less restrictive pre-9/11 rules and trust that passengers **can** and **will** avert disaster than turn paying customers into prisoners.

"Friendly skies", my a$$! Not any more!

Kristen said...

pinkpackrat, definitely sad and comical. Has anybody reported exactly how much of his "groin" got burnt?

People in the Sun, I think we should all try to look our best for the naked scans. Those pictures are going to end up on the internet eventually.

JamaGenie, good point about all the items that haven't been banned. Plus, some people consider their own hands to be weapons. That's why I think they will seriously consider drugging passengers one day. They already considered some kind of electric shock wrist band.

Christopher Hitchens put it this way: "I suppose it must eventually have occurred to somebody that this ban would not deter a person who was willing to die..."

fabutastic said...

This attack is clearly part of a plot by the Underpants Gnomes, who have finally discovered their missing step:

1. Collect Underpants
3. Profit

Kristen said...

fabutastic, I think that South Park episode was somewhere in the back of my mind when I wrote this blog post. Thanks for fitting together the pieces of that conspiracy for me.