Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Terrorizing Ourselves

Bruce Schneier, responding to Jeffery Goldberg's question on whether air travel would survive if terrorists successfully explode an airliner:
Probably. Air travel survived decades of terrorism, including attacks which resulted in the deaths of everyone on the plane. It survived 9/11. It'll survive the next successful attack. The only real worry is that we'll scare ourselves into making air travel so onerous that we won't fly anymore. We won't be any safer -- more people will die in car crashes resulting from the increase in automobile travel, and terrorists will simply switch to one of the millions of other targets -- and we won't even feel any safer. It's frustrating; terrorism is rare and largely ineffectual, yet we regularly magnify the effects of both their successes and failures by terrorizing ourselves.
As clich├ęd as it sounds, terrorists only win by effecting an overblown response from the "terrorized." And as TSA's hasty response to Friday's failed terror attempt shows, politicians are inclined to do something, no matter how colossally inept that reaction is.

Speaking of which, here's Goldberg's spot-on thoughts on TSA's ridiculous response:
Sometimes the stupidity is too much to bear. From the new guidelines for international air travel:
U.S.-bound passengers aboard international flights must undergo a "thorough pat-down" at boarding gates, focused on the upper legs and torso.
Thanks for letting us know, TSA, that the search should be focused on the upper legs and torso. As I've said on numerous occasions, pat-downs that ignore the crotch and the ass are useless. We recently saw in Saudi Arabia the detonation of a rectal bomb, so it really doesn't take much creativity to imagine that terrorists will be taping explosives to their scrotums. Of course, TSA is not going to be feeling-up people's scrotums anytime soon, so the question remains: Why does our government continue to make believe that it can stop terrorists from boarding civilian planes when anyone with half-a-brain and a spare two minutes can think up a dozen ways to bypass the symbolic security measures at our airports?

Next item: "Passengers must remain seated for the final hour before landing. During that time, they may not have access to their carry-on baggage or hold personal items on their laps." But what about their underwear? Can they have access to their underwear, which is where our latest would-be Muslim martyr apparently hid his bomb? And why can't we have access to our laptops, if they've already been screened?

By the way, these rules, the Washington Post says, are in effect only until December 30th. In January, you see, the jihad is over. That, or the TSA needs until December 30th to properly promulgate a formal set of inane new rules, to add to the inane rules currently in place. Here's an alternative suggestion for the Obama administration: Focus on capturing and killing Islamist terrorists overseas. By the time they get to the airport, it is, generally speaking, too late.