Yo dawg, I heard you like TSA security restrictions, so I put some security restrictions on top of your security restrictions

umar.jpg(Image: Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, at far left, in a photo from his Facebook profile, via NYT.)

Update: See related post here, with discussion of how TSA directives may affect in-flight internet and entertainment services on domestic and international flights.

Here's an open thread for discussing the awesome new TSA in-flight security restrictions that will surely protect us all from future pantsbombers. Just like the war on toothpaste protected us from Mister Sizzly Pants' crotch-launched Christmas fireworks. How'd that loser manage to board a plane in Lagos packing Pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), then glide on through to a Detroit-bound Delta Airlines flight? What the hell's PETN? Is it in toothpaste? How did our supposedly tightened post-9/11 flight security system allow this to happen — despite apparent warning?

Incidentally, I took an early morning flight on Delta today from Latin America to the US, among the first international flights subject to a TSA security directive issued this morning. The pre-boarding procedues included the most invasive hand pat-down I've ever had, and a long line of guys with gloves at the gate, going through everyone's hand luggage in more detail than I've ever experienced.

As we boarded, the flight attendants announced that all passengers would be prohibited from getting out of their seats (for instance, to go to the toilet) or from using any electronic devices (phones, laptops, games) or having anything on their laps (even a book or a blanket) during the last hour of the flight. I tweeted about it from the plane. Bottom line, the new rules make your fellow passengers farty and crosslegged (ever try not going to the bathroom during the last part of a really long-haul international flight?), the flight attendants seemed to be just as annoyed about the meritless new rules as the passengers, and we were none the safer. The worst part? None of this would have stopped the pantsbomber.

Bruce Schneier today blogged, " Do we really think the terrorist won't think of blowing up their improvised explosive devices during the first hour of flight?" And as Schneier wrote back in 2008, "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."

Related: Nigerians are seriously pissed off at the suspect, who is reported to be the son of a prominent Nigerian banker.

And the New York Times points out that what this would appear to mean for flights of 90 minutes or less: you won't be able to get up or use electronics for the entire flight.

* Origin of headline joke is here. Antinous came up with Mister Sizzly Pants, not me.


    1. re: underpants bomber

      Wasn’t there an assassination attempt recently involving a terrorist with a bomb in his rectum? They might have to probe us. Maybe even design new airplane seats for us to ensure nothing can fit in there in-flight. “For your safety, please ease yourself onto the pole. Sir, we gave you vaseline, there’s no need to get belligerent.”

  1. Hmmmm, lets see. Chronic illness + meds that can do bad things to your intestinal tract + no bathroom for the last hour of flight, yeah they are going to have to arrest me or I am dropping trow in the aisle. Let’s see if a plane full of vomiting people is a safe plan.

  2. Hold it… PETN is poppers? Nothing on your lap indeed.

    Popper bombs… those cunning bastards. We’re doomed.

  3. Clearly, it will get to the point where eventually, only terrorists will be willing to submit themselves to the indignity of air travel.

  4. The ongoing inconvenience to travelers shows this ‘failed attempt’ was actually successful in achieving widespread disruption as the terror lingers through the new restrictions.

    3 or 4 more ‘failed attempts’, and not only will you feel more and more like a prisoner yourself, but air travel will probably grind to a halt. ‘Failed’ actions of these terrorists is showing they are achieving their likely goal of wide spread disruption and fear.

    The only way to win is to refuse to be terrorized.

  5. At least the airlines could distribute the ShamWow® Snuggie® to passengers before this hour-plus moratorium begins. Yeesh.

  6. Lately I’ve been thinking about perceived safety vs. the ‘illusion’ of safety and what it means to people.
    Air travel makes a good example, we all know about the threat of ‘terror’ because it’s big and easy to think of, but check out this site… http://www.ans.org/pi/resources/dosechart/
    Apparently 2 hours of air travel is about the same as an x-ray. What can you do?

  7. I wonder what’s going to happen when the airlines take away things that people normally use to distract themselves from the fear of flying – in my case knitting or books. I know that I’ve joked about how dangerous an educated/intelligent populace is, but this is the first time that I’ve been told that I can’t read a book because its a security hazard.

  8. What about heart patients who are taking PETN?

    ‘The most obvious use of PETN is as an explosive. It is more sensitive to shock or friction than TNT or tetryl, and it is never used alone. It is primarily used in booster and bursting charges of small caliber ammunition, in upper charges of detonators in some land mines and shells, and as the explosive core of detonation cord.[2] Apart from this, PETN is used as a vasodilator, similar to nitroglycerin. A medicine for heart disease, Lentonitrat, is nearly pure PETN.[3]’

  9. With these latest restrictions, the TSA has finally gone full-retard. The safety-to-inconvenience ratio ratio for most of their policies is disgustingly low, but the ratio on this one is actually zero. All someone has to do is set off their bomb BEFORE the last hour, and they’re golden.

    It’s only a matter of time before someone tries to smuggle a bomb in their ass. What then, TSA? Rectal searches for all passengers? But-plug chastity belts for the duration of the flight? Is there any indignity the airlines won’t subject their customers to in order to increase the imaginary safety level?

    1. TSA has been full retard for years, its the reason why I’ve not yet nor do I intend to fly to the USA any time soon.

      At least Australia has seen sense in this debate and has just done away with a whole ton of stupid/redundant regulation and prohibitions relating to aviation security.

  10. In times like these, it makes me wonder how possible it would be to form a new airline. Imagine an airplane with an inaccessible flight deck, combat-trained flight attendants, and the only additional security being the threat of summary ejection at 30,000ft for any attempts. No TSA, no nonsense. Just buy your ticket, get on, and fly to your destination. The end.

    You could charge three times as much as the other carriers and still make a mint.

  11. I liked reading your thoughts on this, Xeni, but I’ve never got too much value from so-called open threads, especially on a site like Boing Boing where people already feel free to go on tangents. It seems the comments are just as good, if not better, when a post isn’t declared to be the start of an open thread.

    That quote from Bruce Schneier is a choice one: “Do we really think the terrorist won’t think of blowing up their improvised explosive devices during the first hour of flight?” It is the most obvious objection, succinctly stated, by a genuine security expert. I’m posting it to Facebook.

  12. The problem is that the TSA has no balancing concerns. Their primary mission is security, damn the consequences. The FAA at least has the mission of keeping aviation safe and productive.

    Most of the TSA follies are known to be follies by pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics and other flight crew. It goes far beyond the stuff you read about in airports. It goes to the management of airspace, the issuance of identification, the “inspection” of aircraft, and so on and so forth. One TSA inspector used the Pitot tubes on the sides of jets as a step so that he could look inside the interior. He damaged nearly a dozen jets before he was thrown off the airport by enraged owners, and local police. Nothing was done to him. He could have been charged under Federal statutes for willfully damaging aircraft.

    This isn’t just security theater. It’s security stupidity. The TSA needs to answer for the hassle they bring to public and private aviation. But so far, no public figure seems interested in taking that action.

    1. “He damaged nearly a dozen jets before he was thrown off the airport by enraged owners, and local police. Nothing was done to him.”

      The TSA defended his actions, saying they were the proper procedure and that he had found a security flaw (terrorists could break the airplanes instruments and then get inside and not fly anywhere because the instruments are broke). Then the TSA threatened to fine the airline.

  13. Someone once sad that what is obvious is not necessarily true and the TSA seems hell-bent in trying to shown that in fact it is, Their motto seems to be that action, any action, is better than thinking clearly about what happened and trying to address that specific threat. Son what if the next wacked-out son of a well-to-do businessman tries to avoid the new “regulation” by trying tio blow up the plane 2hrs before landing? Is there any limit to the inanity of the TSA rules?

  14. The most disappointing part of this was I was hoping that once the senate confirmed the new head of the TSA, that he might have been able to get rid of the ridiculous 3-1-1 regulations. Of course, he’s been held up for some sort of bullshit politics.

    But of course, this is Obama’s fault because him being in office “encouraged the terrorists, and that’s why there’s already been two terrorist attacks against us.” [taken from a comment on boston.com’s boards, not my opinion]

  15. Also, I’m curious what Bruce S. things would stop this sort of attack?

    I would say syncing the do-not-fly list and the terrorist watch list for starters, but that doesn’t help people who are on the magical list through no fault of their own, nor does it stop people who are below the radar. The “naked machine” backscatter/millimeter wave devices? Violation of privacy! Those trace portal puffer machines? Too expensive to put in every airport!

  16. But they can’t really *stop* you from pissing, can they? I mean, sure, they can make the bathrooms off limits, but when you gotta go you gotta bloody go!

    I for one would be whipping it out and leaving a puddle on the deck. Yeah, they’re going to be angry with me, and they’ll probably raise a big stink, but at the end of the day what can they possibly do? Heck, you might even be able to conter-sue for some sort of dignity violation.

    1. Since you can’t have anything on your lap they would claim you exposed yourself in public and now you are a sex offender. If a kid sees you you are also exposing yourself to children. Don’t you love barbaric hysterical laws?

  17. The rules may be ineffective and annoying, but they are intended to prevent people from blowing up airplanes and killing innocent people. I do not understand the vituperation against the TSA. There will never be a protocol that is 100% effective while being completely innocuous to travelers.

    I’ve been on flights since 9-11. I’ve crossed national borders. I haven’t found taking my shoes off, not bringing on liquids, and having my bag searched particularly onerous.

    Back in the day you used to be able to bring a gun on a plane. I don’t feel oppressed that I can’t do that anymore either.

    1. The problem is not the intention or invasiveness of the procedures, but rather the lack of any kind of effectiveness they have. Security protocols should be designed using rigorous critical thinking and expert opinions, not based on gut feelings as the current ones seem to be.

    2. Do explain how not going to the bathroom in the last hour will stop a terrorist.
      Soon, we won’t be allowed to have hand luggage or wear clothes to fly.
      I’ve got an idea, ban planes then terrorists can’t blow them up.

    3. The trouble is, intentions aren’t real. Only actions are real. So the TSA might have the bestest intentions in the whole wide world, but it still amounts to a gigantic pain in the bottom aperture that does nothing whatsoever to improve security on airplanes.

      I have to fly a lot, and I hate it. Not because of the actual flying part, but because airports have become playgrounds for high-attitude, low-aptitude rent-a-cops that regard all travelers as untermenschen.

      The more you fly, the more you’ll appreciate how little intentions enter into the thing.

  18. This is the most retarded thing i’ve heard when it comes down to “safety precautions”. I wonder what’s going to happen with the customs forms. I do remember they hand them out on the last hour of the flight. Then again, they might as well hand them out on the first hour. But yeah, what’s going to happen with people who get airsick? or with those whose stomach was upset by the crappy airplane food? Or what about people falling asleep with their iPods on their laps (that happens to me quite often)?

    Who thinks up these “shake and bake” solutions, really? I think this is pointless. If someone is going to blow up a plane, they will do it on the first 5 minutes of the flight or in the last.

  19. A large part of the idiocy of all this is because we are bending over backwards to be “fair” and “not discriminate.” We need to just do some profiling. There’s no point in frisking Granny at the gate and preventing little Jimmy from reading a book in his seat, we just need to look closely at the people who actually might be terrorists. I’m sorry if it offends anyone, but the suicide terrorists we’re worried about are almost always young men with names like “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,” or are weird-looking like Richard Reid, or have other easily-identifiable traits.

    Yes, it’s unfair to all the innocent people with Muslim names or weird appearances, and yes, in theory Buffy and Madison might join Al Qaeda at cheerleading camp and decide to become martyrs, but you have to play the percentages. So sorry folks, either we inconvenience some of you or we inconvenience everybody, and air travel grinds to a halt.

    1. And talk about that strange-looking fellas from OKC, what were their names? Yeah, Tim McVeigh, and Terry Nichols. They sure fit the bill of those who we should be profiling. Right, I forgot, this is the new century, and privileged white kids only shoot up schools nowadays.

      1. Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols weren’t suicidal hijackers, were they? We’re talking about securing airlines against hijackings or suicide bombings, not terrorists in general. And yes, if I were securing a school against Columbine types, I’d be looking at white guys. Profiling correctly done is not just an excuse to persecute someone based on their looks or name, but to identify the people most likely to be a problem, so that your limited security time and effort is used most efficiently. In other words, I think it’s silly for them to waste time patting down Granny to avoid hurting the feelings of Twitchy Abdul.

        1. A couple years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote an interesting piece for The New Yorker about the “effectiveness” of profiling.

          I dunno about how to improve security. I kinda like Cory’s idea about having a ninja come to your house, sedate or otherwise incapacitate you, take you to the plane, put you on, and after you land, deliver you to your hotel or other destination, and then you wake up fresh as a daisy and ready to go.

    2. I wonder what Xeni Jardin thinks of your plan to single out people with unusual names. :-P

      They kind of already do this – the screening list is full of names related to suspected terrorists. If most terrorist have weird names, like you say, then most of the names on the list should be ‘weird.’ And the names originate from countries where other suspected terrorists are from, so it’s probably mostly middle-eastern or Irish people who get the third-degree whenever they fly. And then they have to randomly check senile old ladies and uniformed pilots to appease the PC liberuls!

      1. I’d say white females are very unlikely to be hijackers or suicide terrorists these days. (It was a different story back in the heyday of the Red Brigades.) But the extra-devoutness of the converted being a well-known phenomenon, if a young white woman had a Muslim name, again, sorry to “discriminate,” but I’d say single her out for extra attention at the airport.

          1. You seem to think a lot about who you’d like to single out for extra attention.

            Not really. How much effort does it take to think of the characteristics of people likely to want to hijack or suicide bomb an airliner in 2009? We’re talking about a pretty rare event, and a photo lineup of every airline hijacker or bomber of the last few decades would show they tend to share certain characteristics. It’s entirely logical to look at “people who have done X” and use it as the basis for “identifying people who might do X.” Our modern social phobias about “discrimination” and the resulting lawsuits are preventing us from having a sensible and efficient transportation security system.

          2. It’s entirely logical to look at “people who have done X” and use it as the basis for “identifying people who might do X.”

            Ah, the same mindset that had us obliterate Iraq to destroy al-Qaida, which wasn’t even based there. Your philosophy is terrorism’s greatest recruiting tool. Does the fact that the implementation of your ideas has actually made the situation worse enter anywhere into your calculations?

          3. Whoa there, you are making an Olympic-level leap there. I’m basically saying “Concentrate security efforts on likely targets instead of making everyone follow stupid rules.” And you honestly think that’s the same as “invade Iraq to combat Al Qaeda”?

            If you want to avoid profiling you have to treat everyone as a potential terrorist. That seems to be what they are doing with the new wave of rules. We both think that’s stupid, correct? My solution is more profiling of likely threats. What’s your solution?

            And if you think that looking for hijackers and suicidal terrorists among groups of people most likely to be hijackers and suicidal terrorists (e.g. young Muslim men and not old Baptist women) is “terrorism’s greatest recruiting tool,” well, I don’t think you understand much about terrorism. Do you think there are people out there who think “Hmm, those American security procedures seem to inconvenience everyone equally without singling out people like me, so waging jihad against them doesn’t really make sense”? Or do you think Al Qaeda recruiters say: “Those evil Americans discriminate against Muslims by profiling us as terrorists! We’ll show them… by committing more acts of terror!”

          4. It seems we have to post this every time someone decides that profiling is a good idea:

            not only is it racist, it makes us actively less safe by providing bad actors an excellent selection criteria for attackers. AQ (or IJ, or IB, or AAB, etc etc) can recruit persons that the profiler (let’s call him PapayaFS) wouldn’t consider a dangerous other — give them a shave, a good haircut, the whole nine yards. It is, of course, a very well-refined technique among narcotics operations.

          5. In response to the citation of an MIT student paper supposedly showing profiling doesn’t work, I cite Israel, which hasn’t had an airplane hijacked in decades, partly due to profiling. (joeposts: you are describing the kind of profiling Israel does.) I think decades of real-world success trumps a student paper.

            Skullhunter: Why would profiling have missed Umar? A twenty-something Muslim male traveling alone would be a prime candidate for extra scrutiny. As for Lindh, true, if his religion wasn’t apparent, he’d be harder to spot, but still, a twenty-something male traveling alone deserves more scrutiny than (e.g.) a forty-something couple with two kids.

          6. In response to the citation of an MIT student paper supposedly showing profiling doesn’t work, I cite Israel< ?i>

            Invoking the name of a country is not a citation. You have bupkis. And you’re repeating yourself. Unless you have something new to add, stop.

          7. you know, your straightforwardness would be more refreshing is you stopped to realize that white people are the minorities on this planet, vastly outnumbered by muslims, yet we still manage to start bigger wars and kill more people more efficiently.

            As yourself, who’s REALLY more dangerous? The swarthy men with blasting caps or the white guys with the stealth bombers?

          8. MDH, Is that a trick question? Have the “white guys with the stealth bombers” used their religious fanaticism to knowingly and willfully kill innocent people, over and over again? Have they violated every moral principle of modern society by blowing themselves up in crowded markets? Do they praise their fellow warriors for martyring themselves? Do they follow a set of principles that includes suicide as a high honor, and the destruction of other religions by ANY means necessary? Get a grip on reality.

          9. Have the “white guys with the stealth bombers” used their religious fanaticism to knowingly and willfully kill innocent people, over and over again? Have they violated every moral principle of modern society by blowing themselves up in crowded markets?

            Is killing people to defend oil interests more moral than killing for religious reasons? Is using unmanned drones to bomb wedding parties and then saying, “Oops, our bad” any better? We kill civilians all the time. Take the log out of your own eye.

          10. are you for real?

            yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, meh, and YES. also, LOL @ your righteous indignation. I think you are probably very well intentioned, and, in my opinion, very poorly informed about the country you live in. Be proud, but be honest too. We’re a pretty shady bunch of mofo’s when it suits us.

          11. “which hasn’t had an airplane hijacked in decades, partly due to profiling. joeposts: you are describing the kind of profiling Israel does.”

            How do you know their success is partly due to racial profiling? Just curious – I’ve never read anything that specifically singles out racial profiling as being particularly successful at stopping terrorists. They famously caught a passenger carrying a big bomb in 1986, and it was carried by a white woman named Anne-Marie Murphy. Had they simply profiled her based on race and name, the plane would have sploded over Greece.

            Israel is a tiny country, El Al is a tiny airline, and the majority of the people who fly it are Israeli Jews. That doesn’t apply to America or most other countries with a larger, more diverse population. Even if we could afford their system, it would lead to an ugly situation at the airport. The Israelis let the Jews through, question the white tourists, and strip search the minority muslims. Simple. How would this work in America? Something like… White republican-voting Christians get to board without trouble, Canadians and Democrats and other possible threats get questioned, and anyone with dark skin gets buttprobed. Is that what we want?

          12. joeposts, I am not advocating profiling based on just age or name or skin color or any other single characteristic. That’s not how the Israelis do it, either. They are looking at a series of characteristics to determine who should get extra scrutiny. Then they have extended chats with selected people: “Hi, where are you coming from, where are you headed, what will you do there,” etc. That makes far more sense than simply subjecting everyone to idiotic rules. Yes, El Al is just one airline, but their security system seems to work well, and as far as I know they don’t have silly rules about what having things in your lap. Given the vast size of the TSA, I don’t know why their approach wouldn’t scale up.

          13. Israel’s stand on hijacking is also a deterrent essentially; “You took a hostage, they are already dead, now it’s your turn.” If more countries took this approach this might dial down some of the terror’ but I think America will not stand for our citizens being whacked on the runway by security forces.

          14. How much effort does it take to think of the characteristics of people likely to want to hijack or suicide bomb an airliner in 2009?

            How much effort does it take to realize that once you develop a profile, terrorists will probably shift clothing/identification/physical appearance of their prospective bombers to avoid suspicion? Profiling is lazy. And in this case it’s assuming that the bad guys are as dumb and lazy as the profilers.

          15. How much effort does it take to realize that once you develop a profile, terrorists will probably shift clothing/identification/physical appearance of their prospective bombers to avoid suspicion?

            The pool of potential terrorists is not infinite. Al Qaeda can’t turn their people into old white women. And even if they could, again, you have to play the percentages.

            Besides, if that’s such a clever and easy step for terrorists, why didn’t Umar get false ID?

          16. The pool of potential terrorists is not infinite. Al Qaeda can’t turn their people into old white women. And even if they could, again, you have to play the percentages.

            Maybe you should have read all of what Antinous posted instead of just the part that apparently offended you with its DFH suggestions that terrorism might best be reduced by not screwing with half the known world. “Profiling of likely threats” would have missed this guy. It would have missed John Walker Lindh had he decided to take a plane instead of heading off to Afghanistan to fight Coalition troops. Profiling is just a sop to people who think Muslims can be identified just by looking at them and who are busy pissing themselves in fear because some twit barbecued his junk on an international flight. The only people it would catch are people like this same twit, who have no real hope of pulling off anything besides horribly injuring themselves and then getting horribly beaten by the other passengers. And as BSD said, it makes the problem worse by giving potential terrorists a set of criteria that they know to avoid. Plus it ties up security shaking down all the people that fit the profile and prevents them from devoting any time to anyone else. Yeah, great plan.

          17. “Our modern social phobias about ‘discrimination’ and the resulting lawsuits are preventing us from having a sensible and efficient transportation security system.”

            From washingtonpost.com:

            “[The TSA screening manual] says that passport-holders from Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen and Algeria should face additional screening.”

            Feel safer?

  20. the suspect, who is reported to be the son of a prominent Nigerian banker.

    Oh lords of comedy, please let this fact have been gleaned through a cursory glance at e-mails he has sent.

  21. I was reading these new rules this morning, and I was, despite my unending cynicism about the TSA, absolutely shocked by the completely shameless irrelevance of them.

    Someone, somewhere, sat down and penned a bunch of rules restricting activities with tenuous, tangential relationships to the events which happened, without placing any thought whatsoever upon whether those rules would even have prevented the incident in question.

    Now, most rules wouldn’t prevent the events they are a response to… but these ones are particularly sour. Most of them, if enforced upon the flight in question, would not even conflict with the activities the suspect was performing.

    Someone is waving their badge in our faces and reminding us how stupid they think we are and how little they care about whether their rules and regulations accomplish anything other than punishing all of us, every day, for someone else’s actions.

  22. @JoshP, my working assumption was that the sun was the biggest, baddest radiation source in the neighborhood, so night flights reduced my risk by putting a big planet and more atmosphere between me and it when I don’t have as much atmosphere to protect me from above. The ANS calculator doesn’t seem to factor that in, leading me to revisit that assumption.

    And it may have been routine, but yesterday at around 3:30 PM PST at SFO, TSA screeners at United’s gates were working to explain a Japanese traveler the need to check a bag containing an excessively large shampoo bottle. As determined by reading the label, of course. My baby-feeding silverware set with a 1.5-inch very dull butter knife attracted additional scrutiny and re-screening but eventually was allowed onboard.

  23. At this rate it won’t be long before the final restriction
    is announced . . .


  24. Chip, PLEASE do not poke the pig. Remember the Bush administration? Things can get worse, much, much worse. Let me count the ways…..maybe no carry-ons? Or no electronics? Only reading material allowed is what is found in the seat pocket. Dare I let my mind continue?

  25. The restriction is on the last hour of flights entering US airspace from elsewhere. The terrorists may choose to set off their bombs earlier, but they won’t be over America yet. So that’s alright then?

  26. And I’d think that Richard Reed and this wanna-be would have proven how different for such nuts things were after 9/11.

    There’s a neat old MAD Magazine cartoon on the subject from the mid-90s; Passengers on an airplane, madman with a molotov coctail jumps up and screams “Okay! We go to CUBA!” The passengers are just ignoring him, but fantasizing about buying armfuls of Havanna cigars, dining with Castro, making “Friends” with hot Cuban ladies and how miserable the nutbag will be when dumped in their jail system… Then the stewardess pops in. “Attention all passengers, the airline just called and you will each be charged $919.34 for your flight detour. The whole crowd goes berzerk, jumps on him, and throws him out the airlock in mid-flight!!!

    And that’s what’d happen, or rather what HAS happened-TWICE… In the past, most nuts got arrested or shot and those that made it to Cuba regretted it soon after, and the passengers got a free vacation. The passengers, especially on flights in America were in no danger. So, they were advised to be sheep. 9/11 changed that and now every hijacking is going to be a potential #4 attempt with the crowd instantly rushing, as afraid of what the hijackers will do as our own government shooting them out of the sky and denying it.

    Hearing about measures like this, I go “Conspiracy Theorist” and say that it is the rich elite planning a “Population Culling” and they want to test how people in the “Developed world”, the most expensive and now useless economic slaves, will react to being put on trains and then marched to a gas chamber.

    But even that is flattery…

    The sad reality probably is that those in charge (or who pretend to be) are such utter fools they’ll do more damage than the terrorists were able to do by overreacting to any threat, real or imagined, just so they themselves could whine to a superior, or a trial lawyer, they were doing what they were supposed to.

  27. Soon we’ll have a repeat of the Saudi Arabian Ass Bomber, as this is one area where a downward directed jet would be worthwhile. Watch for people walking funny in the terminal area, and soon thereafter alien style probing to prevent it.

  28. I’m going to bring a book and read it balanced on the tray table or held in front of me.

    Or, may I’ll spend the trip sketching designs for the automated wedgie machine that Mr. Abdulmutallab should spend the rest of his waking hours strapped in.

    In any case, I’ll seek to reassure security that I have nothing in or around my lap by wearing transparent trousers.

  29. Fly Boingboing Airlines, where the first 50 gallons of liquids are free, and you’re free to spend the entire flight in the bathroom.

    1. I’ve always wanted an airline where I could carry on 50 gallons of vodka and pass out in the lavatory!

  30. It’s high time the TSA was replaced with a more serious agency that might actually guarantee security to air travel in the US, even though it wasn’t TSA screeners that made a mistake here (the flight originated in Amsterdam). Fact is that this guy would have made it on the plane almost anywhere- the only screening equipment that detect this would be the puffer machines that are at the moment to expensive for deployment at all airports. Scarier still is that PETN is an explosive more powerful than TNT that can be readily synthesized with minimal knowledge and easily obtainable chemicals. The only solace is that it’s quite hard to detonate without a metal detonator as this incident demonstrates.

  31. ah, well i guess now i can’t fly anywhere. my diabetes super unpredictable and i can just imagine trying to use my glucose meter [i have to check every hour, and yes, wake up repeatedly from sleep] and then give myself insulin or take some glucose during the last hour of a flight.
    the glucose meter and insulin pump are electronic devices and they beep when i use them.
    i’d probably get tackled by a flight attendant just for taking the meter out of my purse

  32. The biggest threat is still air cargo….how much international cargo/mail is hauled by airlines that is never checked or screened for explosives?

  33. The Bush administration and TSA began making these reactionary rules so that if a terrorist succeeds in an attack on an US airlines, they could say, “WE HAD MEASURES IN PLACE!” No one (not even Obama or current TSA) wants to face a nation if an hour-before-landing crotch bomber succeeds tomorrow, forcing the administration to explain why restrictions weren’t put in place after the recent threat. It’s cover-your-ass policy-making.

    I don’t agree with this, but given the rabid stupidity here in the US, I can’t say I blame them.

    Hypothetical TSA rules in 5 years will include (after a series of failed terrorist attempts):

    Passengers must remain seated with hands on top of their heads during the following flight times: 34, 58, 73, and 91 minutes after take-off; 69, 67, and 63 minutes before landing. And, of course, 60 minutes onward before landing.

  34. >Related: Nigerians are seriously pissed off at the suspect, who is reported to be the son of a prominent Nigerian banker.

    Are we sure he wasn’t just transporting several million dollars worth of hot cash to deposit into some nice person’s bank account?

  35. It’s amusing that so many people have mentioned releasing bodily exretions in the plane to get back at the TSA. Slightly misdirected, I think.

    In any case, at this rate it won’t be long before all passengers are handcuffed to their seats for the duration of the flight.

  36. This so-called bombing attempt was, without a doubt, the lamest, most pathetic attempt at bomb making since a 7-year-old made a ‘bomb’ out of match heads. There was absolutely no chance of this moron’s ‘bomb’ doing any damage. NO explosive will do anything more than burn unless it is properly fused. This guy was nothing but a tool and the whole thing was literally nothing but a psywar operation. The entire point of this thing was to panic the weak minded and make our so-called leaders overreact and do something that would further hurt our airlines and our own people. Al-Queda found a moron who was totally expendable and they used him like a bullet to do nothing more than morally give us the finger. Big freaking deal.

  37. So this morning, I’m in Bradley waiting to board my flight to Midway. About a half an hour before the flight takes off, an alarm goes off inside the terminal. Then someone comes on the PA system and announces that everyone is to evacuate the building.

    Most folks head toward the main part of the airport, but I head to an emergency exit. But before I can push the door open, I am told that I am not allowed to go out the emergency exit.

    Say what?

    I am directed to head back towards the security checkpoint. Everyone is headed that way, but when we get to the checkpoint, we are stopped before we can go through and exit, I dunno, to the parking lot. We just stand and wait while somebody somewhere decides what to do. I’m thinking, this is retarded. If the building is on fire or there is a bomb threat, this is putting us all at risk. Why? To minimize paperwork for somebody. Well sure, it would be a heck of a bother if people started wandering around on the tarmac, but it beats the hell out of blowing up or being burned.

    I’m reminded of Titanic, of the folks in steerage being locked below decks. Once upon a time, back in the days before Bush, I would have had some faith that somebody somewhere was thinking and doing the logical thing. I think nothing of the kind now.

    Ten minutes later we were sent back to our gates. And all the flights seemed to go on schedule. No one was impolite. All the people I had to deal with, airline staff, airport staff, TSA, were quite courteous. But somebody somewhere was not thinking.

    The thing that shakes me up the most about this, is that there is no way to change it. There’s no place to send a letter of complaint that doesn’t put you on the do not fly list. And most people won’t complain. I got into an argument with my mother about it. She was telling me that she likes all these security regulations, that they make her feel safer.

    Well righty-oh Ma. Let’s see how you like these new regulations next time you fly.

    We’re sheep.

  38. Seeing as how the fellow attempted to set off a bomb in his lap while seated wouldn’t it make more sense to have the passengers stand in the final hour of flight thereby eliminating their laps entirely.

  39. After smuggling a handful of schedule II narcotics through airport security my mother told me a funny story about getting on a plane in a little tiny airport in Montana. There was no security but as soon as she deboarded at her final destination she had to go through the whole gamut to make sure that she hadn’t been carrying any explosives or water or anything on her flight.
    The whole thing really is a crock of sht but the only way to really defeat it is to make airport security take as long as possible. “Are you sure you want me to take off my shoes, my feet smell fkcng horrible” “wait, if it’s frozen water then it’s a solid… right” “I know that I keep setting off the metal detector, it’s a genital piercing – a big one — I need a big one”
    If enough people show up early to their flights and make security take for fckng ever then eventually, everyone else will start to complain. It’s the everyone else that’s going to make a difference, not BoingBoing posters.

  40. I am SO wearing pants I don’t care about, packing a change in my carry-on, drinking a bunch of water, and holding it until the last hour next time I fly. Which airlines don’t charge you extra for wetting their seats?

  41. I just returned to the USA from a trip to London. It was an 8.5-hour flight, and the airline had disabled the entire inflight entertainment system in order to disable one particular part of it — the inflight moving-map display. They said it was a TSA directive intended to deny a potential terrorist’s knowledge of where the plane was at any given time. I guess they didn’t think of the the “handheld GPS held against the window” trick, or the “Hmmm, the airplane just began a descent, so I guess we’re 30 minutes from Chicago” trick, or the “Let’s see, this is an 8.5 hour flight, and 8 hours have now elapsed since takeoff” trick.

    BTW, disabling the video/audio system on our airplane also disabled the reading lights and the Flight Attendant ‘call’ button — you know, the button I might press to quickly alert someone that the gentleman three rows in front of me is on fire…

    Once again, the TSA knee-jerks its way into the insanity Hall of Fame. I can’t wait to see what monumental stupidity they come up with next.

  42. This whole event (despite the insane security theater fallout) is a MASSIVE win for the Individual.

    Their whole elaborate system didn’t do shit to stop this asshole, but a Standard American Fist sure did.

    I’m a veteran of the USCG with absolutely no marks on my record of any kind, and I get treated like a stepchild every time I fly..this punk was ON THEIR LIST and brought an ACTUAL BOMB onto the plane, and the TSA is standing there with their thumbs up their asses.

    I hereby swear on all that is sacred in the world that if I am ever on a flight and someone tries lighting a bomb, pulls out boxcutters, whatever, that I will grab the nearest suitcase and smash his head in repeatedly until he’s very dead.


    Can I use the bathroom now?

  43. Say, did anyone else find it odd that Richard Reid failed? I found it doubly odd that this guy failed too. Each could have gone into a bathroom. I think they both wanted to get caught, or rather, didn’t want to die. Maybe they were coerced, or maybe they joined the plots willingly but got cold feet.

    Remember that woman astronaut who wore a diaper on a long drive to kidnap a romantic rival? Those diapers are going to, er, explode onto the market.


  44. Not to feed the troll, but I’m kind of glad the TSA doesn’t single out people with funny looks or foreign names. I want to be “protected” (if that’s the word for what the TSA does) from ALL of the hypothetical people who want to kill me, not just the uglies and the Muslonymic. On top of that, due process, innocent until proven guilty, etc. etc. are ideals worth preserving. On top of that, this:

    That said, I think the new security guidelines are the beginning of the end for TSA. Picking a fight with books is like invading Russia.

    1. “TSA doesn’t single out people with funny looks or foreign names.”

      They do. That’s why I find it funny when people complain that muslims aren’t being targeted. They are! The TSA even threw a hissy fit when the ‘confidential’ (pdf files with words blacked out but not deleted) documents that showed they were engaging in racial profiling were leaked. If you’re from a scary muslim or commie country, you’re going to get searched. They just have to search a couple old ladies and apple-faced cheerleaders alongside the DARK HOARD to make it look like they’re not completely fucking racist.

  45. You know what this is all leading to, right? In the future we will all have to fly naked. That includes the 400 pound guy that oozes over the armrests into your personal space.
    My modest proposal is that we return to the use of zeppelins. Separate gondolas for small groups or individuals suspended by cables. If you want to go crazy with a box cutter or your exploding baby bottle, you will only destroy your own compartment.
    By the way, today the Chinese announced a passenger train that can go something like 245 miles per hour. When you consider the time spent getting to an airport early, checking baggage, going through security, and sitting on the tarmac, and waiting to get off again, it seems pretty competitive with airliners. Unless you need to go from Lagos to Amsterdam to Detroit.

  46. I like to think that, in about a year or two, there’ll be a partial rollback (staring straight ahead with dead eyes mandatory for the last *half-hour* of the flight) that’s a bit more palatable. These are the sorts of restrictions I’d place up there with, say, a total ban on liquids/gels (like the one we had some time ago), as opposed to a [relatively] minor inconvenience like shoe removal.

    Let’s hope the TSA feels the same way.

  47. What does the last hour of flight have to do with anything? Sure this guy did it at the end, but planes are most vulnerable to explosives when they are in the stratosphere. Whats to stop the next guy doing it in the middle. Not that Im suggesting banning getting up entirely.

    Its just plain stupid.

  48. I’ve got Crohn’s … do they seriously want me shitting in their seats? It’s not like I can really choose when I have to go. When my body says it’s time, it is time. I wonder if a doctor’s note will be required?

  49. oh, and lord help us if hijackers ever decide to learn martial arts. Every passenger who isn’t a quadruple amputee will have to fly sedated due to weapon possession of limbs.

  50. The last hour of flight? Like there is something about the last hour of flight just because of this guy’s timing?

    More likely, any hour when passengers are not restricted is an hour when a passenger with the acumen to spot somebody attempting something and act on it is an hour when risk is reduced.

    It is nice to know our security is a consequence of knee jerks.

    Glad I don’t travel much.

  51. I find myself pleased to discover that Amtrak serves Flagstaff, so if we’re going to go visit my parents in Arizona we’ll just make a longer trip of it. They can pick us up there as easily as in Phoenix (15 minutes difference in travel time, and a nicer route).

    Sure it’s a long time on the train, but I’m at least willing to try it once.

  52. You know what the problem is with targeting people based on their names? McLovin is the problem.

    A marginally clever high school student can create a credible new identity.
    – Changing your appearance takes work.
    – Changing your accent takes work.
    – Changing your name takes a couple hundred bucks and knowing the right people.

    And by the way, Mister Sizzly Pants isn’t Middle Eastern. Will we screen every black person because of radical Islam in Africa? Will we screen every East Asian person because of radical Islam in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines? Keep harassing everyone who doesn’t look and sound like you and the problem will just keep getting worse.

    It’s impossible to stop terrorists from committing acts of terrorism. Anyone can strap a bomb to a five year-old and send her into the mall. There’s not a goddamn thing that we can do to prevent it. What we can do is stop pissing off the whole world and try to repair the damage that we’ve done by randomly bombing people who we thought maybe might be related to somebody who pissed us off once.

    1. It’s impossible to stop terrorists from committing acts of terrorism. […] What we can do is stop pissing off the whole world and try to repair the damage that we’ve done

      So that’s your solution for airline security and terrorism in general? I’m glad you’re not running the TSA! And what makes you think Al Qaeda is expressing the feelings of the “whole world”?

      1. He’s going to the causes of terrorism, rather than attempting the impossible task of repressing the symptoms.

        And one might cite here what’s sometimes called “the law of false positives.” Even if your method of detection is 99% accurate (which profiling is most decidedly NOT), if the occurrence of the phenomenon is only 1/10^6, for every 10^6 cases, you’ll catch one bad guy and falsely accuse 10^6/10^2 = 10^4 innocents.

        Sure, you’ll stop the one bad guy (99% of the time), but cameras in our homes might eradicate domestic violence, too. “Innocent until proven guilty” is one of those rare gems in american political thought.

        “Better to let a thousand guilty people go free than to wrongfully imprison one innocent one.”

        “Those who would give up their freedom for the sake of security deserve neither.”

        1. Also, though there is no way I can know your ethnicity/gender/religion, I get the impression that you’re not targeted by the kind of profiling you support.

          And I have to wonder if you’re opinion would be different if you existed within the demonized demographic (assuming you don’t).

          1. “And I have to wonder if you’re opinion would be different if you existed within the demonized demographic (assuming you don’t).”

            I meant “your,” of course. Sorry. :)

          2. Querent, if a terror group of blue-eyed, white guy, Mac-using agnostics from the Midwest had declared war on the U.S. and killed thousands in terror attacks, I would totally understand being singled out for extra scrutiny at airports. I’d hate it, but I’d understand, because it makes sense to look for attacks from the sort of people who are attacking. These attacks aren’t coming from grandmothers or families with children or young white women, they are coming almost exclusively from (some) young Muslim men. Of course there should be a certain level of general security to guard against random nuts and people who aren’t young Muslim men, but it’s frickin’ insane to pretend that the main danger isn’t from (some) young Muslim men.

            And the real quote is: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” The words “essential,” “little,” and “temporary” are crucial to Franklin’s meaning.

          3. I knew the quote was a paraphrase. Your point is well taken, but we do enter the realm of the subjective with regards to the words “essential,” “little,” and “temporary.”

            With regards to the theoretical blue-eyed terrorists: When nascent extremists in islamic countries see americans killing, terrorizing, and torturing their friends, families, and neighbors, could they not make a similar argument?

            It would run, “These attacks aren’t coming from grandmothers or families with children or young [arabic] women, they are coming almost exclusively from (some) young [american] men.”

            Would they then be justified in associating the crimes they have seen with the population as a whole? The results of such reasoning might be similar to the attacks on civilian americans that we have seen.

            I think you are attempting something like pragmatism outside a dogmatic liberal social philosophy. I can see that such a thing could sometimes be necessary. To refuse to learn, if it ran contrary to your social assumptions, would be damn foolish. But I do not agree that this will help. The law of false positives (mentioned above) assures this will do more harm than good. Ie will increase muslim and/or arabic (or persian) resentment against the us.

            And, again, it does not go to the heart of the problem. Look to the history of us involvement in the middle east: from the first ever cia coup against a democratically elected leader (in iran in 53), to the proxy war in afganistan against the russians in the 80’s…the funding and arming of BOTH sides of the iran/iraq war also in the 80’s, the iraq embargo, the many crimes of israel to which we are accessory….

            I’m not even a scholar of this field, but I know enough. Enough to know that our heavy handed tactics created this conflict. And I do not believe that the further use of force will solve it.

            As a historical example, was the internment of the Japanese during WW2 justified? A similar situation, no?

          4. Would they then be justified in associating the crimes they have seen with the population as a whole?

            No, and that’s not what I’m advocating. I am only “associating” the crimes of Muslim terrorists with Muslims in general in the sense that if you are looking for Muslim terrorists, you look among Muslims. If law-abiding Muslims are offended by that, I advise them to help stop all the terror that is done in the name of Islam.

            All the historical examples you mention are basically beside the point. Terrorists aren’t attacking us because of a coup in 1953. And most of the “crimes” of Israel were committed in self-defense. You seem overly sensitive to the professed grievances of people who would like to destroy the society in which you live. Every terrorist and totalitarian has grievances, many of them quite valid. (E.g.: Germany really did get shafted after WWI.) But the grievances are often just excuses, do not justify the actions taken to avenge them, and counting on appeasement/apologies/”universal prosperity” to bring peace just won’t work.

            And for everyone claiming that profiling won’t work, etc.: Do you lock your doors and windows when you are not home? You realize that if someone wanted to break in, they could do so anyway. Even if you had no windows and only a bank vault door, there are safecrackers or tunnelers who could get in. By your anti-profiling logic, you should never bother to lock anything.

            Re false positives: that’s actual the problem we have now: the TSA treats everyone as a potential terrorist when that’s just not the case. It’s the same sort of inefficient PC thinking we had re AIDS 20 years ago: no, everyone is not equally at risk of getting AIDS, because there are only a handful of major ways to get it. If the point is to make airlines secure or stop AIDS, it’s better to concentrate your efforts where they’ll make the most difference instead of pretending, for political/philosophical reasons, that everybody is the same.

            Oh, and if you park your car downtown and you’re careful to lock the doors and not leave briefcases or packages on the seats, you do realize that’s “profiling,” right? ;->

          5. “If law-abiding Muslims are offended by that, I advise them to help stop all the terror that is done in the name of Islam.”

            I’m suggesting that if we are offended my anti-american sentiment in the middle east, we help stop all the terror that it done in the name of america.

            “Terrorists aren’t attacking us because of a coup in 1953.”

            The current theocracy in iran can be traced directly back to the coup in 53. So anything that can be laid at iran’s feet in terms of culpability, can be traced back to the us in a very real and literal way.

            “And most of the “crimes” of Israel were committed in self-defense.”

            Not even sure what to say about that. It’s kinda like what we’re discussing here. It does look like self-defense if you only go back so far. Like the occupation of afganistan looks like self-defense after the new york attacks in 2001 if you only go back to 2001. But what provoked those attacks?

            “The Fateful Triangle,” by Noam Chomsky is a well researched and heavily documented book on the subject of Isreal/US/Palestine that takes a decidedly different view, if you’re interested.

            “counting on appeasement/apologies/”universal prosperity” to bring peace just won’t work.”

            Has it ever been tried? I still say it’s worth a shot. America has the most powerful military to ever exist on the planet, yet this has not been shown to be a deterrent. When was the last time Sweden got hit? Maybe guns don’t bring peace.

            “You seem overly sensitive to the professed grievances of people who would like to destroy the society in which you live.”

            I’m removing the plank from my own eye first. I’m assuming there’s a causal chain behind the anti-american sentiment in the world today. I’m looking for a better way.

          6. “you do realize that’s “profiling,” right?”

            hahaha, no it isn’t. Nice weaseling attempt though.

          7. Heh. I was just thinking man…if we both got pulled out of line and hassled for being blue-eyed, white, agnostic guys, I’d be the one raising hell and getting myself further detained.

            My approach is not always subtle or pragmatic when I think authority has over-stepped its bounds. :)

          8. Last thought before sleep takes me. All of those “(some)” disclaimers you put in your post are going to get lost somewhere between the (theoretically) well-meaning policy makers and the thugs on the ground.

            Such delicate distinctions are not what cops (federal are otherwise) are best known for.

            And I don’t think the policy makers are actually well meaning. The arabic and persian worlds have damn fine reasons to hate the us gov. That this hatred is mistakenly applied to the people in general is similar to the logic being applied here.

            There is a difference of scale, yes–a little extra surveillance and airport suspicion != murder–but it is a slippery slope, and prejudice has its own special laws of momentum.

  53. As one of the many (1 in 3, I think the number is) people who dislikes flying to the point of fear (I’m not worried about terrorists, ironically, just turbulence) this is making flying non-tenable for me. I’ve about got to my stone cottage and zen-like-calm by having my temper-pedic pillow in my lap and my ipod playing soothing music while it shows me pictures of romping corgi puppies. Depriving me of those things means I’m much less likely to fly altogether. Grarhrrrr.

  54. @Fencepost

    Be careful though, I took that train two weeks ago and saw a mentally handicapped man get punched in the face. That’s terror if i’ve ever seen it.

  55. “One law enforcement official told The Associated Press that the suspect had used a condom or condom-like bag to hide the PETN near his genitals.” Lovely. It’s groping time!

  56. Before we all get hyperventilating, this is still a democracy.
    Inform your representatives that you do not believe that these silly rules enhance anyone’s safety, calmly argue for practical alternatives, and hope that many, many of your fellow voting cohorts do the same.
    If we actually got to choose the airline we flew on based the security practices followed, I would guess most of us would opt for less invasive security, slightly higher risk.
    Make this clear to our elected representatives, and the TSA will be directed to follow our directives.

    1. Well yes, the democracy thing is a nice idea, but did you notice that the TSA changed the rules within hours of this incident. Would you like to hazard a guess at how long it would take for enough people to complain to enough elected representatives for them to actually stop arguing with each other and do something that the people wanted? A lot more than hours I can tell you..!
      Also, choosing and airline based on security practices is not a viable choice either. The TSA is an overarching organization that dictates their own rules regardless of what the airline says. They are also now saying that they will deliberately change the rules from day to day and place to place so that you will have no idea when you roll up to the screening line what you will and won’t be subjected to and what you will or won’t be allowed to take through to the gate. Only once you’re through that does the airline have any say on what you can do…

      The TSA are not elected and they have the power to control the flying experience of all passengers. This would be the end of flying if there were any viable alternatives, but the rail network is on it’s knees and ocean liners take too long. I’m thinking of putting myself in a large FexEd Overnight box next time I need to get somewhere.

  57. I guess I will be driving from Oakland to San Diego next month instead of flying. I’m not going to put a five year old through this sort of nonsense.

  58. @51

    “Once upon a time, back in the days before Bush, I would have had some faith that somebody somewhere was thinking and doing the logical thing. I think nothing of the kind now.”

    This for me is one of the most life-changing aspects of the Bush administration. I lost faith in government and in most of my compatriots.

  59. There is this terrible reflex that says, instead of accepting inevitable failures of an imperfect system, the response to any unusual event is to change the system. But it can be found almost anywhere. Something bad happens to a kid because someone slips through the sex offender registry or diversion program, the politic impulse is to demand the system be changed (rather than simply looking for flaws in how the system was implemented). This even happens when the system worked exactly as planned, but the built in imperfections allowed the odd event to turn up.

    This happened with the Capitol Hill shooting in, what, 2000? A nut case barrels through the metal detectors and starts shooting, kills two Capitol Hill police, and is then shot dead himself. Now, the system there worked precisely as designed: the police have guns to shoot people when and where necessary. But, instead of simply recognizing that, they build a $100M+ visitors center to pre-screen everyone.

    This happened with the NBA basketball lottery a few years back (mid 90s) where Orlando won the lottery twice in a row despite having, at first, a 1/6 chance of winning first choice in year one, and then a 1/66 chance of winning it in year two. Instead of recognizing that this unusual event may, on occasion, occur, they changed the system because it was supposedly broken. No, it worked precisely as designed.

    Of course, the government wants new security measures even when there was no security failure at all: e.g., TWA 800, where new measures were added to security procedures in the wake of a wiring flaw and bad fuel management.

    Here, the TSA system (which is pretty stupid in many ways) worked more or less as designed — it screens most people pretty well. Now, once in a while this system is going to miss something and, short of strip searching and catheterizing everyone, any system will. So, we add a new layer instead of figuring out how to properly implement the system we have. No flight attendant, TSA screener, or baggage handler knew the old system perfectly and now we will add a new layer of nonsense making it hard to even implement the flawed, but stable, old system.

  60. This is not going to go well for parents. I guess we’re not flying international ’til the kids are able to sit for an hour. Of course, with a small enough child you don’t have to actually get up to go to the bathroom, but you do have to put them in a lap and break out the diaper accoutrements …

  61. There’s a lot of complaining here – and some I can relate to – however, do any of the creative people reading BB have ideas about how to enhance security while minimizing inconvenience to passengers?

    No one has offered a single suggestion in this thread.

    1. About the only way to enhance security beyond present levels is to adopt a policy of “default deny.” Require a “passenger license” in order to be able to travel in any sort of public conveyance.

      Applicants for such a license must pass a rigorous security background investigation – the sort where you have to give multiple witnesses who knew you at every address where you have ever lived in the past, who are all interviewed about your character. Plus school transcripts, employment records, credit records, and so on – analogous to acquiring a Top Secret clearance. Of course, some character witnesses will have to be clergy, because we can’t trust non-churchgoers to be honest. And nobody who has spent more than a total of some reasonable length of time (90 days?) outside the US can be trusted, of course; they might have been corrupted by foreign agents. Criticizing the government in public, of course, indicates that the critic could be a terrorist, and licenses will have to be denied permanently to the outspoken.

      The cost (what’s a TS run nowadays, about $40k?) will of course have to be borne by the applicant, we can’t go increasing taxes to support such a scheme, and if you can’t afford it, you must not need to fly that badly. There will likely be a shortage of trained investigators, so we’ll need a priority scheme, where government officials, executives of major corporations, and the like can get their applications expedited.

      Applying for a passenger license will carry with it implied consent to search and seizure of any possessions, papers, goods or chattels at any time; how else can the authorities be sure that you’re not preparing any sort of attack? We’ll also probably have to reqiure that licensees occasionally entertain law enforcement officials or military as houseguests, in order that their daily activities can be assessed.

      There will also have to be severe consequences for violating the trust implied by such a license. It might not be too great a step to require would-be travel licensees to enlist in the military, so that they will be under military discipline.

      I’m sure that everyone will be willing to submit to these minor inconveniences in order that the authorities can more effectively defend our freedom.

      (Sorry, I couldn’t find any way to rip up the Ninth or Tenth Amendments, since nobody knows what they mean!)

    2. “do any of the creative people reading BB have ideas about how to enhance security while minimizing inconvenience to passengers?”

      I’m sure we have some ideas.

      -More highly trained agents, fewer retarded agents. Pay them decent wages.

      -Agents should engage in friendly, direct dialogue with passengers instead of treating them all like potential criminals and merely asking them if they packed their bags themselves

      -Focus on people, not objects. Watch for suspicious people instead of suspecting everyone of carrying a bomb.

      -Lose the shoe/liquid/butter knife ‘ban’. Reactive security measures make it really easy for bombers to figure out what they would have to do to hide an explosive or weapon.

      -Less screening at the gate, more security up-front before the counter. I always laugh when I wait in line with thousands of people while checking in. We’re the perfect target – nobody is searched, and we all have to wait in one spot.

      -Profiling. Not just racial or name-based profiling (which doesn’t work), but behavioral profiling. Look at people wearing bulky clothes, acting nervous, walking funny, odd travel plans. Assess them before they get to the security gate, ask questions other than “DID YOU PACK YOUR BAGS YOURSELF HURRDURR”

    3. “do any of the creative people reading BB have ideas about how to enhance security while minimizing inconvenience to passengers?”

      This assumes that security needs to be enhanced. What has all the accomplished that the previous screening process did not?

      Is sending people through metal detectors and scanning carry-on bags a reasonable precaution? Yes, probably. I feel a bit safer knowing that my fellow passengers aren’t carrying assault rifles. Practically every other security measure implemented since 9/11 seems pointless and impotent.

    4. “No one has offered a single suggestion in this thread.”

      Antinous did. Why do they attack us (us meaning the US)? It’s not because “they hate our freedom,” as Bush said. America is far from the most free and liberal nation on earth.

      I do not believe that happy, prosperous people, even extremely conservative ones, regularly strap bombs to themselves an mix anger and suffering in a homicide/suicide.

      Of course humanity is unpredictable. The world is inherently insecure. But if someone lives under occupation for decades and/or witnesses decades of violence propagated or potentiated (via Israel, for example) in their home land by a foreign nation, one would think they might become more likely to do crazy, drastic, destructive things.

      Perhaps universal prosperity will bring peace. It’s certainly worth a shot.

    5. So you haven’t been reading the rest of the thread, I assume?

      Plenty of suggestions, and I’m betting some of them could turn out quite useful. Most anything’s better than the sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing that we’re getting right now.

  62. Yet more placebo security. Let’s harass the paying customers because that will convince them that We Are Doing Something. I said it before: Flight 93 did more to stop hijacking and plane bombings than anything airport security has done. Remember that it was a passenger that stop the bomber. If TSA wants to do something constructive, then it should set up passenger compartments in the airports and give free lessons on how to jump over seats.

  63. The US already trialled the safest way to transport people who are potentially terrorists on a airplane a few years ago: orange jumpsuits, handcuffs, ankle bracelts, bags over heads and wheeled on an off the plane on a gurney.

    You know it makes sense.

  64. How about any time a rational-sounding father calls up the embassy and reports that his son is a security risk, the kid gets pulled aside for additional screening? Simple and logical enough, and would have prevented this.

    Keeping people in their seats for an hour will only cause people to get arrested for insisting on relieving their bladders in the restroom or for reading a magazine holding it in their laps. This is exactly the kind of security theater we don’t need, same as allowing long sharp scissors and metal knitting neeedles but not knives on airplanes.

  65. Remember the following phrase:
    “If I can’t get up to pee, could you bring me a bedpan?”


    I just got off a flight less than two hours ago. It was, of course, very dry and I had to drink a lot of water to prevent my nose bleeding. The flight crew only gave us the restriction about ~20 minutes before landing (thank dog!), but I wonder which they would have preferred all over their seats and passengers, blood or urine?

    And for other people on meds that make them dehydrated, should they stop drinking and risk death? In that case, whom should their heirs sue?

    What about parents with small children? Kids run through food and water faster than adults. Should the children be forced to make a mess in their clothes? Or do we deny food and water to screaming children?

  66. “There’s a lot of complaining here – and some I can relate to – however, do any of the creative people reading BB have ideas about how to enhance security while minimizing inconvenience to passengers?”

    Well, *first* off – analyze the base foundation. Do we in fact actually *need* to enhance security? Or are current procedures in fact actually good enough? We’re willing to accept that 117 people die *every day* in the US in car crashes. You’re *already* statistically more likely to get nailed by a tractor trailer on the way to the airport than you are to suffer a terrorist-related incident while on the plane.

    Think about that for a bit. You want to be *really* safer, deal with the drive to the airport. If you want to *feel* like you’re safer, let the TSA carry on.

    OK – actual suggestions? Yeah – here’s a few:

    Refuse to be terrorized. Pulling this sort of security-theater stunt that inconveniences millions of fliers is *exactly* what the terrorists want. They sacrifice one or two loose-cannon operatives a year, and leverage that into major disruptions.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Osama bin Laden will not be captured by anybody who works for an organization where the higher-up’s continued employment is dependent on having terrorist whack jobs on the loose. Deal with that organizational issue.

    And finally, this quote from http://www.religioustolerance.org/reciproc.htm:

    “In our opinion, the greatest failure of organized religion is its historical inability to convince their followers that the Ethic of Reciprocity applies to all humans, not merely to persons like themselves. It is our belief that religions should stress that their members use their Ethic of reciprocity when dealing with persons of other religions, the other gender, other races, other sexual orientations, etc. Only when this is accomplished will religiously-related oppression, mass murder and genocide cease.”

    There. 3 concrete suggestions.

  67. Time to play conspiracy nut here.

    Jocko the shoe bomber and Capt. Sizzlepants had a few things in common. They both tried their idiot plans from their seats, hell Sizzlepants acted like a complete moron by making a production of covering up with a blanket. I say it was performance art at it’s worst. These little performances were designed to fail, fail and draw attention to the players. The Conspiracy here is they were government plants, drugged/hired/whatever by certain sadistic “Patriots” to “attempt” to blow up a plain in the most stupid visual way possible. Their failures would then lead to seemingly knee jerk security measures. The reason behind all of this, to see how far people could be pushed into the sheep pens of safety and conformity, nothing more. We are now the puppets, watch us dance.

  68. OK, all the men wear kilts, and the women more kilts! Easy access to elimination without leaving your seats! Did I say seats? Everyone gets their own personal padded toilet to fly on, hemorrhoids for everyone! Or, how about straight and rectal caths for one and all? Hell why not line everyone up for their pre-flight colostomy?

  69. The TSA and Homeland Security have become a something resembling organized crime, “We will make up the rules as we go along to suit us. You have no recourse if you don’t like it. If you fight us we’ll ruin you. We are always right.”

    Maybe our congresspeople will finally stick up for us and start reigning in these two-bit bullies. You can always dream I guess.

  70. Maybe the last hour of the flight restriction stems from a jurisdictional problem. Does the TSA have any authority at all to enforce its regulations when a plane is on a runway in a foreign country?

    I know many of the regulations seem inane and useless, but everyone does have to remember that international law is tricky. There are probably numerous pitfalls when it comes to enforcing regulations promulgated by a United States agency against flights that don’t originate in the United States. It may be difficult for us lay people to understand, but there is always going to be a certain amount of trial and error before enforcement officials find a working scheme. None of this is to say that TSA cannot work faster and more efficiently; any person or agency can.

  71. For much of the last hour of flight they are going to have people wriggling and holding their crotches so they don’t wet themselves. So half of the passengers will look like they’re trying to set off a crotch bomb. FTW!

  72. If we don’t destroy our own freedom immediately, the terrorists have won.

    Thank goodness we didn’t elect Obama. Just consider, if we had a thoughtful administration, we’d have nobody to give us the knee-jerk reactionary do-nothing security measures that we Americans so desperately crave.

    … wait a second…

  73. Ok a moment of seriousness. Has anyone flown First Class or Business yet? I am wondering if these idiotic measures are being universally applied or are they only for the cattle class? I can’t imagine those who fly First class would take this (pardon the pun) sitting down. So if anyone has any first hand knowledge please post. Thank you.

  74. New TSA guidelines:

    All passengers will fly:

    * Naked
    * Sedated
    * Without any luggage, either checked-in or carried-on

    We hope you will enjoy your flight, which you won’t remember.

    Oh well…at least we won’t get stuck next to the person who talks during the entire flight.

    P.S. I remember a seemingly factual (i.e., not a satire) article about how the TSA was worried about bombers with explosives in their “body cavities.” Sarcasm: flying just got a lot more fun…not.

  75. does anyone else suspect this was deliberately allowed to happen just so they could rebuff calls to relax the measures already in place…

  76. Here’s my question:

    What can we do about this?

    How can we (the flying public) somehow get the TSA under control and stop them from treating us worse than dogs?

    They’re not elected. They can’t be fired. What is our recourse for when they get so far out of line and treat us so badly?

    How can we stop the TSA?

  77. Or do you think Al Qaeda recruiters say: “Those evil Americans discriminate against Muslims by profiling us as terrorists! We’ll show them… by committing more acts of terror!”

    I suspect most Al Qaeda don’t go beyond “those evil americans…” in their estimation of us. There’s literally nothing that can be done to make someone not hate you once they’ve made up their mind. But you’r also ignoring a simple fact: the TSA isn’t the guys doing the main work to stop this stuff. It’s Interpol, CIA, and their equivalents. The TSA is the paring knife being wielded by the old kitchen drudge after the enemy has made it past the castle walls. the last, and least effective, defense.

  78. Maybe we should all start wetting our seats as a protest. If people wet their seats the airline will have to replace their seat cushions after the flight. I’m sure a lot of people will do this unintentionally now, but why not plan for it?

    The other thing we can start doing is to have try to get people to show up one hour before the flight. That’s it. If enough people did this, the airlines would have to start delaying all their flights, or force the TSA to get its screening under control.

  79. @ TheCrawNotTheCraw #102.

    Flying drugged + naked + without luggage + ending up not remembering the flight was how terrorists flew to CIA black sites. And so, soon, we all will become terrorists. How apt!

  80. as with most things in the media, that I hear about from the media, I, well… I blame the media. This stuff creates a negative feedback loop at all levels. The admin gives people what they think they want the people give the media what it wants, the media keeps spewing crap, this offends some people, which sensationalizes people which forces the admins to give people what they think they want and the media spews more crap about that…
    you get where I’m going with this.
    we should all build our own hangliders.

  81. Am I seriously not going to be able to read a book in the last hour of a flight? This is extremely distressing to me. I can handle turning off my ipod but my books, nooo…. What if I hold the book at eye-level, with at least 6 inches between my lap and the book? Will the flight attendants have to be vigilant for my arms getting tired, drooping, and OMG, heading towards the DANGER ZONE of my lap? Will the distinction between “in the lap” and “in the vicinity of the lap” be too much for staff? Do these rules seriously mean stare straight ahead, arms at your sides? I mean, I’m a grown ass adult and it’d be torture for me to be completely still, with nothing to read or listen to, in a really uncomfortable seat for an hour. WTF are they going to do about kids? EITHER PUT YOUR ARMS UP OR DROP THE BINKY, KID! AND STOP CRYING!

  82. It’s a shame the Terrorists have won. They’re turning our country into a Paranoid Police State little by little. And the TSA’s reactionary policies are like trying to box with a blindfold on. Just punching in the last direction you got jabbed from.

    If you’re going to catch someone, catch them in the security screening process. This means better trained agents, better technology, and more proactive and thoughtful policies. While I have dealt with some great TSA agents, there are handfuls that couldn’t think their way out of a cardboard box. Let’s try and hire good candidates and pay them enough not to immediately dislike their job (24-36K starting? I could make more as a barista). Let’s find better technologies that catch materials and chemicals that could be used as weapons, but let’s also be sensitive to civil liberties and privacy concerts (i.e. full body scanners and pat downs). Perhaps have additional screening measures for people transferring planes from countries that have poor security. I’m no security expert to be sure – but there just seems to be a lack of common sense?

  83. With two incidents on Detroit-bound flights in just a few days, I think the root cause is pretty evident – nobody really wants to go to Detroit.

  84. I’d love to find out why that last hour is to precious. It makes zero sense. I could almost see it based on altitude. Or based on “once above US land” or some such thing. But the last hour? So for a plane flying from Cancun to Seattle…. that’s like over Idaho? But for a plane flying from Bermuda to NY — that’s over the Atlantic? None of this makes any sense.

    My favorite thing is what they do with the contraband liquids. The stuff they are afraid is bomb material (that’s the fear, right?) is thrown in a big barrel. With other stuff that is suspected of being bomb material. A whole big barrel full of potential explosive liquid. In the middle of an airport. Excellent storage location.

  85. We kicked the living crap out of a world war in three and a half years.
    Now we’ve been hiding under our beds for 9 years over two blown up buildings and we’ve surrendered every single thing we fought for, and the constitution guarantees us, in the process. If we don’t start giving a damn about something besides fear and money, this country is over. A few crap movies and a footnote.
    TSA is killing the airlines. The terrorists have won.

  86. I’ve always thought the in-flight announcement about how “you are now free to move about the cabin” is a sad joke. Move about? Where?? All you have is the the narrow aisle, which you may have to climb over other passengers to reach, and which the flight attendants need for rolling the Sprite-filled battering ram, and the only place you can possibly GO to is the lavatory. And we’re not supposed to congregate near those now (I’ve heard this announced on some flights, which I guess means you’re supposed to wait until you see someone leaving the lavatory and then jump out of your seat and run, to beat the other people trying to do the same thing).

    Add to all this the medical advice to get up and move during long flights in order to avoid blood clots, plus the extreme discomfort of sitting in the seat in the first place if you’re tall, and it’s a big sad joke.

    (Okay, I’ll fess up, I’ve actually walked to the back of the plane and stood and stretched for a few minutes in the flight attendant area with the coffee behind the lavatories, and I haven’t gotten in trouble for that, at least not yet.)

  87. I have a solution to the problem.

    Passengers must be examined by a physician to have a flight certificate issued. Each certificate would detail medical conditions, and at the time of boarding, each passenger would be given a color-coded arm band to be worn on the arm closest to the aisle – yellow for urinary problems, brown for intestinal through rectal problems, blue for those with depression or other mental and emotional issues, green for diabetics and other conditions that require special consideration. It would be easy for flight attendants to see who has needs that need to be accommodated.

    Each arm band would also include markings for religion – a crescent moon for Muslims, a Star of David for Jews, a cross for Christians, a chocolate bar for Buddhists (?), a pentagram for Satanists, etc.

    National flag emblems would be included to show not only the passenger’s citizenship, but home of record, country of birth and travel destinations for the last 10 years, in descending order of frequency.

    The whole thing would look a little like this:


  88. As someone who used to run security checks for a living I can tell you that a no fly list will be rendered absolutely useless by false positives. Especially for Muslim names; the number of guys called Mohammed Omar (for example) is just incredible. Additionally, spellings are not standardised. Our boy above might have the spellings Mohammed, Mohammad, Muhammad, Muhmoud… different names on his birth certificate, passport, credit cards, driving license.

  89. Jimbuck: Yeah, the “last hour” makes no sense to me, either. An airliner is actually much more vulnerable near takeoff, when it’s full of fuel and thus heavier.

  90. I’ve thought some more about the Boingboing air idea, and here’s a better outline:

    1. Aircraft: DC-3 with reinforced cockpit doors and 50% of seats filled with G-8 protesters (per Bruce Schneier).

    2. Flight crew: forbidden from saying anything except “would you like some more matches?” and “That door’s hard to open in flight isn’t it? I’ll help pull the lever”.

    3. Security review reduced to single question: “Aren’t we feeling secure today?”, followed by half a dozen “well of course this doesn’t really work” anecdotes and an Obama bow-handshake.

    4. Boarding assistance provided for those with large drums of liquid or stiff legs.

    5. Inflight entertainment consists of passengers chanting “We’re all nonconformists” and complaining that TSA treats them all the same.

  91. I forgot one:

    6. During security screening, all passengers will have the right to consult a drama instructor.

  92. It saddens me that terrorists attempt to make bombs out of the strangest and weirdest items when you could probably do more damage by igniting the drinks trolley with a 50p lighter. They still serve good brandy in Business Class right?

    As a personal appeal to those in charge of the legislation, think about this. A failure in your own systems requires a radical rethinking, not a pouring on of more fuel for the fire.

  93. One thing I don’t get…
    The only confirmed attack from AQ on US soil was 9/11. Hot Shoes and Hot Pants may or may not have been acting with them. So 9/11, the object was hijack the planes and steer them into recognizable landmarks. Makes sense, in a ways, to get maximum coverage. What advantage does blowing up a plane in the air get them?

  94. I’ve got it!!! I know how to fix the security!

    First: All passengers must sign a terrorism waiver to the effect of: If this plane is hijacked I forfeit any and all rights.

    Second: In the event of of mile high brouhaha, hijacking etc the passengers have 5-10 mins to overcome the attackers, put out fires etc. In other words get the situation under control.

    Third: In the event that the situation can not be made stable the plane would surrender control to the military and be flown remotely much as a predator drone, and ditched in the nearest body of water or vacant land.

    Give the pilots and crew key operated ejection seats that after use the exit port would seal behind them to retain a stable flight ability.

    Ta F-ing da!

    1. Third: In the event that the situation can not be made stable the plane would surrender control to the military and be flown remotely much as a predator drone,

      This has been the case for quite some time for large commercial aircraft. The pilots are only there in case the autopilot, as programmed from company headquarters, fails.

  95. I could be wrong but it seems like trained dogs would be quite capable of sniffing out most explosive chemicals and materials. And they don’t have to be scary doberman’s and german sheppards, but cute cuddly hound dogs have the best noses around. That seems to be the most obvious solution.

    Other than that, I really don’t mind body scans, as long as they aren’t emitting too much harmful radiation and they don’t take more than 5 to 10 seconds.

    As inane as all the watch list is, they should at least use it. this guy was on it and didn’t not receive any additional scrutiny? What the hell?

  96. In Toronto, Canada’s busiest airport was practically shut down by this nonsense today (Terminal One anyway). 5 hour waits for security, all planes running at least two hours late, dozens cancelled, no announcements, no explanations. Apparently Canadians are now subject to a special set of security checks designed not to actually be completable within a normal working day. That’ll teach us, eh?

  97. That also implies that what Mr. Schuringa, the Dutch man who stopped it by jumping on the bomber, did, would in future be considered as in violation of this regulation: even if you see anything suspicious, you have to stay seated.

  98. Hey – no bathroom use for the last hour is a positive on the security side of things: someone tries to light themselves up and there’s plenty of urine on hand to put it out….

  99. You can’t beat the terrorists by playing their game. Ever more oppressive responses are what they WANT.

    Terrorists want terror, and they want the reactions that terror causes. If we give them the finger and go about our business, the “terrorist” becomes just another criminal.

  100. The reason for the last hour is that we’re talking about inbound international flights to US soil. It’s not that HS/TSA doesn’t care about the first hour, it’s that they are assuming that attackers want to hit the US, not Slobovia.

    This particular type of attack is different from the fuel-bomb weapon attack of 9/11 – it’s more of a traditional take-one-plane-down attack. They are more limited in scope and also harder to prevent.

    At this moment HS/TSA has to be worried that our little friends in Yemen trained not one Nigerian lunkhead, but three or four guys dispatched to different cities of origin, to create Terror Week. Hence the focus on preventing one specific attack mode.

    Conventional wisdom here notwithstanding, HS and TSA are not actually dumber than BoingBoing. They are aware of the limitations of the measures in place. They are also aware that shutting down the US airline industry is not an option unless Mars attacks. (In which case Rod Steiger as General Decker will protect us.)

    I would like to see the oversize watch lists cleaned up, and I would like to see some hard work done to deal with the source(s) of these attacks. In the meantime I plan to bear with a few temporary measures (and I have to fly home to the US in a week, so it’s not an idle plan) and pray we end up with a one-off attack in the books.

    1. “At this moment HS/TSA has to be worried that our little friends in Yemen trained not one Nigerian lunkhead, but three or four guys dispatched to different cities of origin, to create Terror Week. Hence the focus on preventing one specific attack mode.”

      By your logic, these measures would then only be temporary, right? Your reasoning makes sense, and I hope you’re right, but I am doubtful.

  101. They’re already talking about overriding privacy rights to probe our private parts with x-ray vision. And we didn’t even have an ass bomber. The terrorists have won.

  102. Um yes, the TSA *is* a lot dumber than us. At least they must be if you assume that their goal is passenger safety, which for that very reason is a highly implausible assumption. I vacillate between thinking that their activities are all a plot to train the public in habits of obedience to arbitrary authority, the better to pave the way for the New World Order, and that it’s just completely mindless cover-your-ass ‘We must do something, this is something’ thinking. Whatever the airport ‘security’ industry is about, it sure as hell isn’t actual security — not one of the ridiculous new restrictions announced today would have foiled Captain Underpants, whose plan was hopeless anyway.

  103. This is just a media diversion to get attention away from the fact that Abdul Mutallab didn’t have a fucking passport AND was on the terror watch list and still somehow managed to get on the flight!

  104. Why are people giving TSA grief over this? He was screened in the Netherlands. The security oversight happened there, not in the US.

    1. This was my thought exactly when I heard about this. The TSA didn’t drop the ball, the Amsterdam airport did, there is no logical reason to do anything to respond to this “failure.” I hate this dumb security theater which does little to nothing to actually prevent anything, and does everything to invade the privacy and annoy the shit out of regular people on a daily basis.

      Hell, why not just start flying naked? No hiding explosives any more!

  105. I hate to break it to the pleeez-let-us-profile-somebody crowd, but a Muslim extremist may be a Middle Eastern guy with an Arabic name, a Southeast Asian guy with a Malay name, a West African guy with a Nigerian name or a European or North American with all the names they have, all from any class or walk of life. (Anybody remember John Walker Lindh?) Nobody was calling for profiling of Nigerians as of, say, a week ago. And — just a guess — I’m betting that a Muslim extremist planning to blow up a plane does not admit to being a ‘Muslim extremist’. And this profiling is going to be done by people using a watch list of 500,000, and who can’t even tell Irish Americans apart… yeah, good luck with all that.
    True, violent acts tend to be carried out by unattached young males. But beyond that, profiling is not going to take you very far. It’s definitely not a *substitute* for intelligence, which we already know TSA doesn’t have. If the US is ever going to have real airport security, it will have to be via some technological solution which can be moron-implemented — body-scanning or whatever.

    1. If the US is ever going to have real airport security, it will have to be via some technological solution which can be moron-implemented — body-scanning or whatever.

      Mmmmm … no. Technology is great at solving technological problems and indifferent at solving sociological problems. That’s why we still have spam. And poverty, for that matter.

  106. Yes, I hope and expect that some of the current measures are temporary until they either establish that the threat vector has shifted or work out something more reasonable. Nobody really wants to force passengers to sit immobile for an hour.

    Just to be clear here – if the detonator had worked correctly, 300+ people would have died and we would still be working out exactly why.

    1. And if it turns out that these measures, like the Patriot Act or the occupation of Iraq, actually aren’t temporary? What will that imply?

  107. “If law-abiding Muslims are offended by that, I advise them to help stop all the terror that is done in the name of Islam.”

    Wow, blackmail. Nice. Mm, mm, mmm! This War on Terror really has smoked the crap arguments out of the woodwork, where we can get a good long whiff of their stink.

  108. “No, and that’s not what I’m advocating. I am only “associating” the crimes of Muslim terrorists with Muslims in general in the sense that if you are looking for Muslim terrorists, you look among Muslims.”

    I agree completely, but I think you are narrowing it down too much. I think because he was a male terrorist, you should look among the male population. And if law-abiding males are offended by that, I advise them to help stop all the terror that is done in the name of ignorance and prejudice.

  109. To answer querent’s question, if today’s measures were to stay in place permanently, we would have at least one more airline bankruptcy, because over the mid- to long-haul many passengers, especially business fliers, are unwilling to pay top dollar for prison transport. My understanding is that the airlines are already begging TSA to find more pleasant alternatives.

  110. Agree with demidan, the terrorists won…we have become so fearful, that we are now doing their work for them.

  111. I just flew home from St Louis, arriving in Western CO. I’m a Type 1 diabetic who wears an insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor – both with “implants” jacked into my stomach. I always set off the metal detector. I always get the wand and a pat down.

    But now I’m glad to say I get special and individualized explosives detection for my mobile, my camera, my insulin pump, my glucose monitor, my shoes, and my carry on bag. I’m glad they didn’t explore far enough to find all my syringes, vials and other mysterious junk I carry around to stay alive.

    Don’t you feel safer knowing insulin-dependent diabetics won’t be a threat in our skies?

  112. “Don’t you feel safer knowing insulin-dependent diabetics won’t be a threat in our skies?”

    I’m a little surprised that you received increased scrutiny on a domestic midwestern flight, but yes actually, I do feel a little safer knowing that the real-deal murderous bastards out there can’t just *pretend to be diabetics* and get a free pass. Thanks for the report.

    1. What is ludicrous is that they overlooked my glucogon kit(a hypodermic, a vial of liquid, and a vial of powder) a vial of insulin, a vial of Symlin, numerous little canisters of test strips (about 1/4 oz ea.) a bag of syringes, a handful of sports gels….you get the picture.

      1. But you weren’t carrying explosives. If anything, you should be glad that they’re not obsessing on non-dangerous stuffs.

  113. I just got off a domestic US flight and went through the wonderfully extensive pat-down. In retrospect I wish I’d thought some dirty thoughts before hand so the male who patted me down would’ve had to contend with a “pitched-tent” situation; what would he have said?

    “Are you happy to see me or is that a rocket in your pocket?”

  114. Were I a terrorist, I’d probably direct my attention at this point to causing an explosion in a crowded screening line at a major airport. Comparatively easy, I expect. (I don’t know; I’m not a mad bomber. Or any other sort.)
    It would shut down the entire air travel system for a bit, and it would expose the inanity of the TSA efforts thus far and seed even more doubt.
    This is how middle-aged women (like me) think.
    But I doubt they’ll go that route. It’s not splashy and it doesn’t take down big sexy expensive airliners.

    On the other hand, perhaps this is ‘their’ plan – to have us slowly irritated to death.

  115. re: whether we profile or not:

    A couple of years after 9/11, I took a trip from Oregon to Texas. Physically, I was of zero TSA interest: young, white, female, unremarkable. I didn’t have so much as a traffic ticket to my name. However, I have a unique and lengthy first name that my dad invented. Most people think it sounds Russian or Czech.

    I was thoroughly searched before both flights. At the last one, as I stood there crying because I’d just left my long-distance partner at the gate, the TSA agent looked at her clipboard, frowned at me, and said: “I didn’t expect you to be American.”

    So yeah. We profile. We just do it in the most astoundingly stupid way possible.

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