Reflections on the underwear bomber

Following Abdulmutallab’s failed attack there was predictable kneejerk response from the TSA with bizarre new rules concerning air travel

Bruce Schneier gives his opinion on airplane security following the recent Nigerian ‘underwear bomber’ incident.

And what sort of magical thinking is behind the rumored TSA rule about keeping passengers seated during the last hour of flight? Do we really think the terrorist won’t think of blowing up their improvised explosive devices during the first hour of flight?

For years I’ve been saying this:

Only two things have made flying safer [since 9/11]: the reinforcement of cockpit doors, and the fact that passengers know now to resist hijackers.

This week, the second one worked over Detroit. Security succeeded.

EDITED TO ADD (12/26): Only one carry on? No electronics for the first hour of flight? I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks

I think that the ruling regarding keeping passengers seated during the last hour of flight seems idiotic at first glance but that it makes sense if you consider that any flights flying into the US are only in the jurisdiction of the TSA during the final stages before that it is someone else’s problem if a terrorist decides to strike.

Joel Johnson of Gizmodo believes it is time to fire the TSA.

The TSA isn’t saving lives. We, the passengers, are saving our own. Since its inception, the TSA has been structured in such a way as to prevent specific terror scenarios, attempting to disrupt a handful of insanely specific tactics, while continuing to disenfranchise and demoralize the citizens who are actually doing the work that a billion-dollar government agency—an agency that received an additional $128 million just this year for new checkpoint explosive screening technology—has failed to do.

He makes some good points but I think that the TSA and their equivalents in the UK only reflect the general tone set by our governments where the prevailing wind is to cover one’s ass and be seen to be doing something even if it is only theatre.

Because security breaks down in practice to the reality and the perception, modern politicians because are going to address the perception before the reality becuase making people feel mre secure will win votes.

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By Matt Wharton

Matt Wharton is a dad, vlogger and IT Infrastructure Consultant. He was also in a former life a cinema manager.

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