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Security Theater

2006-08-16 23:48:56.78244+00 by Dan Lyke 7 comments

Rafe points out that the Brits have allegedly been tracking these latest terrorism suspects for about a year, the U.S. has known about them for three months, but the restrictions on liquid are new:

Only upon the arrests do transportation officials impose radical new security measures for airline passengers? Why now? Is the threat of attack via liquid explosives suddenly higher now that the active cell working on such an attack has been neutralized? Why not impose these measures months ago when the cell members had not yet been captured and such an attack was thought to be in the offing? I guess I don't get the point.

Now the Brits are backpedaling a bit while they struggle to convince a judge that they really have reason to keep the suspects in jail:

Home Secretary John Reid, Britain's chief law-and-order official, acknowledged that some of the suspects would likely not be charged with major criminal offenses...

Why is this absurd? From what we the public know, what would it take to make a liquid bomb on an airplane?

You also need quite a bit of organic peroxides made by this route in order to be sure of taking down a plane. I doubt that just a few grams is going to do it -- though of course the first couple of grams you are likely to go off before you make any more. The possibility of doing all this in an airplane lav or by some miracle at your seat seems really unlikely. Perhaps I'm just ignorant here -- it is possible that a clever person could do it. I can't see an easy way though.

It only takes a moment to contact your congressweasel or senator and tell them that if we're going to make flying more annoying than it already is we should be doing something that's actually going to make us safer, rather than more theater that's tangential to actual security.

[ related topics: Politics Invention and Design Aviation moron ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-17 00:40:34.73579+00 by: Larry Burton

we should be doing something that's actually going to make us safer, rather than more theater that's tangential to actual security.

It isn't about making us safer, it's about conditioning us to accept without question draconian measures ordered upon us by the government. It's about conditioning us to accept an authoritarian government.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-17 12:49:52.691683+00 by: DaveP

Someone much less cynical than I pointed out last week that the reason for restrictions on liquids was more likely an attempt to stop copycats than to stop this batch of bombers.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-17 16:44:00.642171+00 by: petronius

I think one reason for not restricting liquids 3 months ago was to avoid warning off the plotters. If we unexpectedly begin stopping liquids, the terrorists would realize that we were on to them and would scatter. By waiting to some point closer to their go-date, the net could be closed tighter around them, and fewer would escape.

As to restricting liquids now, yes it is partially theater. Yet it is also possible that some plotter who escaped capture could just go solo. You also have the issue of public demands for security. I remember Michael Moore complaining in Far. 911 that the security precautions didn't go far enough, or that we didn't arrest enough swarthy men. If we had restricted liquids in late 2001 he would have come up with the liquid scenario as an indictment.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-17 17:38:54.794116+00 by: meuon

Note; The liquid restriction may be less about explosives (it's tough to create/mix effective binary/trinary explosives) and more about other chemical or biological agents. A few ounces of the right stuff could be quite short term lethal, or worse, long-term contagious and then lethal.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-17 17:47:20.777044+00 by: Dan Lyke

Looks like more "motive without the means" neophytes.

What bothers me about all of this is that we seem to be protecting primarily against attacks by morons. Doubly so if the current security measures are about preventing copycat attacks, given that the most likely outcome of a copycat scenario is that they'd maim themselves and cause a grass fire in some remote park while trying to figure out how to do this.

Either we're fighting morons who, at best, will be an inconvenience (much like the woman who freaked out and peed on herself or any number of drunks who've caused airplanes to be diverted in the past few years), or we're up against a real enemy, in which case none of this crap matters and the only thing that's happening is that the least intelligent of our fellow voters are getting their fear and panic centers frobbed so that they'll give up even more of my liberties and conveniences.

Hell, even that aforementioned the woman who freaked out and peed on herself appears to have been competent enough to get banned items past the new security:

FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz confirmed Thursday that authorities found a screwdriver and an unspecified number of cigarette lighters in her bag, items which are banned under new security regulations. Marcinkiewicz also confirmed that matches were found Mayo's bag.

She also had a bottle of water, which did not appear to be supplied by the flight crew. It wasn't clear how the items made it through airport security.

Which tells me very clearly that this is all theater, and the only thing it's doing is making life less convenient for those of us who don't want to bring down airplanes.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-18 10:37:26.71181+00 by: DaveP

Playing the devil's advocate, is it possible that profiling is protecting us from the competent terrorists, but the security theater is useful against the morons who are harder to profile?

Or maybe it's all just designed to make us nervous and desirous of more protection from the gubmint so we'll be good sheep.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-08-18 17:11:54.366084+00 by: markd [edit history]

time to cue the bleating heart liberals.