Thursday, August 10

The DecaPlane Plot: overreaction

Okay, there's no need to rehash The DecaPlane Plot: you can read about it on every major news website. Suffice it to say that there's a lot of overreaction at the moment.

Nearly all of the stuff that TSA is confiscating from carryon luggage will turn out to be benign. I question the decision to ban all amounts of liquids - an ounce or two of nail polish here, an ounce of two of mouthwash there. The fact that the same liquids may be stowed in the hold of the plane (presumably with a timer or pressure-sensitive detonator) means they haven't thought this through. The last time al Qaeda tried this apparently involved larger bottles of explosive disguised as contact lens solution (much larger bottles).

I'm incredibly ignorant of explosives - but doesn't it stand to reason that a certain minimum amount of this stuff would be needed to blow a widebody jet out of the sky? I've heard that small amounts of C4 explosive can be used, but suspect those fancy detection machines can sniff out trace amounts of that. I've watched the TSA guys swab the handles of my laptop bag, place it in a tester and wait for the green light.

This strikes me as about as effective as banning nail clippers from flights, unless there's a new model which can clip its way through those reinforced cockpit doors.

Maybe the next step will be to fly the passengers luggage on a cargo flight 30 minutes ahead of the passenger plane, and not have it onboard at all? Conceivably it would also contain everyone's shoes, PDAs and Personal Liquids.

Also, since both an explosive and detonator (reconfigured iPod, etc) are needed, it stands to reason that if all liquids are banned, then portable electronics can be (re)permitted? -- what good is a detonator without something to detonate? Don't I recall hearing that El Al (Israel's airline) has a long list of the precise weights of Personal Electronic Devices? If a laptop is too heavy or too light, it merits further inspection. If not, I suspect there will be a lot of really bored passengers crossing The Big Pond, unless the quality of the movies improves substantially.

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