Monday, November 28, 2005

Security Detail

Ever since Richard Reid’s attempt to blow his feet off in the hope of killing his fellow air travelers was thwarted by an observant flight attendant, the majority of airline passengers have been obliged to remove their shoes for x-ray examination before boarding a flight, domestic or international.
Since the shoes-off policy was initiated no one else as far as I know has attempted to blow an aircraft out of the skies with their shoes, so could this be an example of an actually successful security procedure?
As I watched the four-year old ahead of me submit to the procedure I’d have to say, mmmmh--not so much.

Instead of a security procedure we have an institutionalized reaction to the lunatic scheme of a lone nutcase. If this procedure really worked why not apply it to say, shopping malls which we have been repeatedly told since are also potential terrorist targets? Of course causing an explosion (however small) on an aircraft is potentially disastrous, but then walking into a mall with a machine gun causes a bit of mayhem too—and didn’t that happen just the other day, for about the umpteenth time?

Reid was caught whilst trying to light the fuse to his shoe bombs. The subsequent shoes-off policy was accompanied by a "no lighter and no matches policy"
Presumably if x-raying shoes eliminates the concealment of explosives in them, the means to light the fuse is surely irrelevant, so why ban lighters and matches too?

Unless x-raying shoes doesn’t actually guarantee the discovery of plastic explosives that can be lit by a fuse, in which case it would make sense to ban lighters and matches, just in case.
But then if x-rays DON’T provide a guarantee of discovery, why are lighters still banned but matches are now acceptable?

How is it that the x-ray operator on my flight to Washington didn’t note the lighter in my coat pocket (I voluntarily handed it to a TSA official after the X-ray)? On my return flight from Washington it was also missed and this time I carried it on the plane.
Having no explosives in my shoes, being allowed a lighter makes logical sense, yet regardless it was a contravention of the security procedure in place.

Personally I find this whole security procedure only mildly irritating, but its implementation is clearly suspect. I wonder what that four year-old ahead of me thought?


Elderta said...

When I went to Chicago for the AAR meetup, I had to go through security at two airports. At Midway, on my way back, I got to the airport very early. I had already gone through the security detail, with the lighter I had carried through three times... well, since I was early, I left to go smoke, and when I got back to through the detail, I finally got caught with the lighter. I felt... defeated. I like that lighter!

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