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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Nigerian guy tries to set off a bomb on a plane. After he's arrested, it is revealed that his father warned the US that his son had become radicalized and was likely to do something rash, such as try to set off a bomb on the plane. It develops that the would-be murderer was put on a terrorism watch list, but left off the no-fly list, presumably to leave room for US Senators and Congressmen, Marines returning from Iraq, Princeton professors, members of the Federal Marshal Service, Air Force generals, and Nelson Mandela.

The TSA responds with new regulations that say that no one can get out of their seat, and no one can have anything in their lap, during the last hour of a flight.

Many people, notably security consultant Bruce Schneier, have been remarking for a while that the TSA seems primarily to be in the business not of security, but of security theater:
Separating Explosives from the Detonator
Chechen terrorists did it in 2004. I said this in an interview with then TSA head Kip Hawley in 2007:
I don't want to even think about how much C4 I can strap to my legs and walk through your magnetometers.
And what sort of magical thinking is behind the rumored TSA rule about keeping passengers seated during the last hour of flight? Do we really think the terrorist won't think of blowing up their improvised explosive devices during the first hour of flight?

For years I've been saying this:
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.
This week, the second one worked over Detroit. Security succeeded.

EDITED TO ADD (12/26): Only one carry on? No electronics for the first hour of flight? I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.
So, class, today's assignment is: design a first class SECURITY RITUAL, complete with witch-doctor or technological substitute, that can provide passengers with a sensation of security, without unduly inconveniencing them. The ritual does not need to increase actual security, only make the customers feel like the TSA is doing its job to protect us from terrorism. Shouldn't be longer than 3 pages.

Send your security ritual to me, and I'll post the best.

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1 Comments:

I didn't invent this, but the Iraqi Army is currently using some version of a dowsing rod to detect car bombs. Maybe apply something similar in airports?

By Blogger Seth, at 1:11 PM  

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