So a numbskull would-be terrorist tried to set himself on fire aboard a US-bound Northwest jet yesterday, as you may have heard. My favorite part of the NYT story:
As investigators from around the world worked to determine how the suspect managed to get his explosives past security on a flight that had departed from Amsterdam with passengers who had originated in Nigeria, airports were consulting with the Transportation Safety Administration to impose stricter screening measures.
They need an investigator for this? Nothing the TSA does to your average traveler would catch the materials this guy brought on board unless he was unlucky enough to be singled out for individual screening — PLUS he boarded the plane either in Europe or Africa, not the US. There’s no big mystery.
Rest assured, though, that the TSA will use this as an opportunity to add even MORE useless security theater steps to the airport process with precisely zero increase in actual security.
This is a profoundly stupid rule, even dumber than the rule that prevents passengers from carrying an unlimited number of three ounce containers of liquid aboard airplanes. The rule is not intended to protect passengers; it’s intended to protect politicians, to inoculate them from criticism the next time a bad terrorism incident occurs in the future. There are rules in place to prevent this kind of thing, right?
But it’s utterly absurd to think that these airport security rules will never prevent a single act of terrorism. (What’s to prevent the bad guy from doing his thing one hour and one minute before the plane lands?) What these rules will do, though, is to eternally memorialize every half-cocked would-be terrorist who manages to stick something flammable into his shoe or into his pants. And that is precisely the terrorists’ objective.