28 December 2009

TSA closes the barn door after the horse has gone (again)

Not since December 2001 when Richard Reid tried to light an explosive in his shoe has the TSA so blatantly closed the barn door long after the horse has gone. Because of Reid we are now, even eight years later, more likely than not required to take off our shoes when going through security, even though there is no evidence to suggest that any idiot would follow this same course of action.

The new TSA policy is stated below:
TSA issued a directive for additional security measures to be implemented for last point of departure international flights to the United States. Passengers flying into the United States from abroad can expect to see additional security measures at international airports such as increased gate screening including pat-downs and bag searches. During flight, passengers will be asked to follow flight crew instructions, such as stowing personal items, turning off electronic equipment and remaining seated during certain portions of the flight.
Based on the observations of people that have flown in the last few days, this has generally been perceived to mean that (at least for international flights inbound to the United States) during the last hour or so of the flight, passengers will be confined to their seats, with no access to the lavatories or their carry-on bags. Further, passengers will probably be prohibited from having anything on their laps or person--no pillows, blankets, laptops, etc. Apparently this because this is exactly what the suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, allegedly did. Because as you know, the next terrorist will do the exact same thing.

Surely, there is someone among the higher-ups in the TSA who is shaking his or her head at the absurdity of these new policies. Also, these measures will only serve to allow the public to further alienate themselves from flying in general; the nameless figureheads at TSA will be subject to criticism from afar (as I have done here), but the flight attendants will unfortunately bear the brunt of it up close and personal.

By the way, the explosive used by both Richard Reid and Umar Abdulmutallab was PETN, which would not be detected by a magnetometer. Not in 2001, not in 2009. So keep taking off those shoes for the nice folks in the security line.
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