Ah, deja vu all over again.
There's an attempted terrorist attack on an airplane. Whatever method was used, the not-so-brilliant authorities figure will be used again. So innocent passengers have to suffer through screening procedures aimed at preventing an attack that has already happened.
Because the latest attack happened near the end of a flight, now passengers on international flights have to stay in their seats for the last hour.
Idiotic. Irritating. Insane.
You can bet that if the attack had occurred in the first hour of a flight, that's when the non-geniuses in charge of airplane security would have ordered people to stay seated.
Always one step behind. As fellow Oregon blogger Jack Bogdanski said, barn door sealed after horse leaves. A commenter on that post included a link to a right-on story, "What Israeli security could teach us," that is as true today as it was in 2006.
Nearly five years after Sept. 11, 2001, US airport security remains obstinately focused on intercepting bad things -- guns, knives, explosives. It is a reactive policy, aimed at preventing the last terrorist plot from being repeated.
The 9/11 hijackers used box cutters as weapons, so sharp metal objects were barred from carry-on luggage. Would-be suicide terrorist Richard Reid tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe, so now everyone's footwear is screened for tampering.
Earlier this month British authorities foiled a plan to blow up airliners with liquid explosives; as a result, toothpaste and cologne have become air-travel contraband.
By contrast, the Israelis focus on people -- potential terrorists who would be using those bad things. They don't obsess over searching 80 year-old grandmothers in wheelchairs, while the most recent bad guy, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was waved on through security even though he was on a terrorist watch list.
This is one issue that could unite folks all across the political spectrum.
Conservatives are fond of repeating the mantra, "guns don't kill people, people do." They should be happy to adjust their slogan to "explosive devices on planes don't kill people, terrorists do."
Libertarians don't like limitations on individual freedoms. Yet this is what our nation's dysfunctional Transportation Security Administration (TSA) keeps on doing. And progressives are also irked at the senseless new rules, as evidenced by "Flying soon? Have fun with that" on The Daily Kos.
This guy calls TSA The Stupid Agency. I heartily agree.
Has TSA ever considered the possibility that maybe the terrorists aren't really interested in blowing up a plane. Maybe the terrorists figure they win everytime we in the West spend millions of man-hours being hassled, inconvenienced, and generally put upon by a myriad of stupid security measures.
So here's my question: When are we going to rebel and demand a sensible set of precautions?
James Joyner echoes this sentiment in "TSA Making Flying More Miserable."
We’re simply going to make people miserable for no apparent reason. There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft. All of them clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers. How many tens of thousands of flights have been incident free? And, yet, we’re going to make hundreds of thousands of people endure transcontinental flights without reading materials or the ability to use the restroom?
Nate Silver, who takes a refreshing factual approach to political and social policy issues, calculated the risk of being on a plane attacked by a terrorist.
There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade.
Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000.
This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.
Whatever happened to the United States being "the land of the free and the home of the brave"? Why are we citizen-sheep so willing to submit to largely useless security procedures that make flying a nightmare nowadays?
As the above-mentioned article on Israeli airport security says, "it is illogical and potentially suicidal not to take account of the fact that so far every suicide-terrorist plotting to take down an American plane has been a radical Muslim man."
Political correctness has its place. But not in this case.
It is not racism or bigotry to argue that the prevention of Islamist terrorism necessitates a special focus on Muslim travelers, just as it is not racism or bigotry when police trying to prevent a Mafia killing pay closer attention to Italians.