Saturday, December 26, 2009

Here we go again......

A (probably) deranged Nigerian botches a terrorist strike on an airplane, and the entire globe goes to code red. I can't wait for a flight attendant on my next flight to tell me to sit down, put away all electronic devices, roll up my pants to above the knees, strip off sweater and jacket, and sit silently for the last full hour of my flight----perhaps longer, if my pilots decide to turn off their radios and play gameboy for the final hour, overshooting our destination by 200 miles.

I am a complete, total cynic about the ability of our security systems, as currently practiced, to avoid a determined terrorist strike against our airplanes. Next thing we know, we'll all have to travel 'dry'---no liquids, no creams. Powders, fuhgedaboudit! Guess what? Nail clippers, razors, makeup mirrors, knitting needles, tennis rackets, thin belts, ropes---dangerous weapons, all---will be back on the no-fly list. So, we all decide to check in our luggage instead, thereby overwhelming the baggage handling systems and through either theft or human error, hundreds of thousands of bags never make it to their final destinations.

I once unwittingly smuggled a potentially lethal weapon on board a flight from NY to Rome not too many years ago. A can of peanuts. I hadn't realized it until we were airborne and I was ready for my snack. If you have one in your cupboard, go open one up right now----the easy-open lid, which peels off to access the nuts, is a razor sharp metal object---an object that, let us say, they wouldn't allow in mental institutions----but, hey, it's OK in flight, welcome aboard!!

Look, we're in a hopeless cat and mouse game here, and, as is usual with our defense apparatus, we're always fighting the last war and not adapting quickly enough to changing circumstances (e.g., weekly). And spending gazillions in hard and soft costs and wasted time.

The Israelis have always been way ahead of us on this. They focus on screening and interrogation of the passenger more than his luggage, as Jase and I learned first-hand through the most rigorous personal questions we've ever had to answer in public. A can of peanuts in the backpack of BobOnARoll is not going to harm anyone (unless you're allergic), but half a dozen cans of peanuts in the hands of the bad guys can provide the means to launch assaults that might bring down airplanes.

We're just never going to get this right, are we?

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