By now you have all heard about the attempted terrorist attack that occurred on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day. As a result the TSA, in typical knee-jerk fashion, implemented several “new rules” that according to them, will keep us safer. And by ‘new rules’ I think this whole debacle deserves an honorary mention in Bill Maher’s New Rules line up.
First, let’s review some of the new changes.
Keep in mind that these changes currently only apply to international flights coming into the US, which in the TSA’s infinite wisdom, makes no sense to me. Does the TSA really operate under the guise that crazies are currently only grown outside the US and flown in on planes? Lest we forget that all of the flights involved in 9-11 were domestic flights? Couple that with the fact that the TSA has no authority internationally and you have to wonder, what is the point of enacting rules that you really can’t enforce?
Here are the rules:
1. Passengers are prohibited from accessing carry-on luggage in the last hour of flight.
2. Passengers are prohibited from having anything on their lap during the last hour of flight. No pillows, blankets, jackets or toys.
3. Passengers are prohibited from using any electronic devices or in-flight entertainment during the last hour of flight. Some have said that all in- flight entertainment, announcements from the pilot on the flight plan or any updates on current location have been banned.
4. Many airlines are only allowing one carry-on item.
While I strongly disagree with the implementation of all these rules, I also challenge anyone in the TSA to explain to me a) how these will keep any of us safer and b) how the rules would have prevented the incident from occurring in the first place.
Well, certainly keeping Mr. Terrorist in his seat for the last 60 minutes of Flight 253 would have affected the timing of the attack, but it would not have prevented it altogether. The attack would have happened much sooner. And is that really any better?
These rules will only make the well-intentioned travelling public suffer. We can’t use the bathroom for the last hour, can’t listen to music to keep us calm, and let’s not even think about the fact that small children need to be entertained or held on their parents lap during the last leg of their long flights. But apparently the TSA feels that Johnny playing with his Mr. Potato Head 18 minutes before landing, might be the catalyst for sending a terrorist into a tizzy.
Last time I checked, terrorists don’t really like to comply with rules. Do you really think that a terrorist who wants to bomb an airplane is going to sit politely in his seat and refrain from using the lavatory? No, he is a terrorist. By definition, he won’t follow rules.
And in case we haven’t noticed, the airline industry, which is still struggling to recover and is in danger economically, doesn’t exactly need more reasons to push it closer to bankruptcy. The last thing we need are more reasons to encourage international travelers not to fly to the U.S.. Or for those who would normally travel by plane, to now reconsider in favor of a train, boat or car.
This is exactly what is going to happen if someone doesn’t wake up and buy a clue.
Why won’t the TSA step back, take a breath, do a thorough investigation and then act accordingly? Wouldn’t it look better to find the cause and make appropriate corrections and wouldn’t it also just make more sense? And wouldn’t the world look upon the TSA and the U.S. in a more favorable light, rather than as a joke, a label that they have deservedly earned. The Internet buzz word of Security Theater didn’t surface because this all played out on Broadway, you know.
How can you not help but laugh at the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA which is headed up by a delusional woman who only hours after a terrorist set off a bomb on an airplane, stated with all fiber of conviction to the world that the TSA’s security efforts were successful in thwarting said attack. She couldn’t seriously be speaking about the fact that said terrorist foiled airport security by getting through their system with explosives on his person, could she? And let’s face it, foiled may be too strong a word, as it implies the terrorist had to be sneaky, conniving and intelligent to pull off this mission. Honestly, he just had to show up. He might as well have been holding a sign. Perhaps a luggage tag with a flashing neon alert like “BOMBER ON BOARD” would have helped the security efforts. Yet something tells me he could have shown up with a passport made out of purple construction paper, littered with travel-themed scrapbook stickers and make-shift rubber stamps of countries while he just sailed through.
Scary, isn’t it?
And then yesterday, Ms. Napolitano addressed the nation again, relinquishing her earlier position of how well the security measures worked. Really? Now, which statement are we to believe? Well, I think the rest of the world knew the first statement just didn’t jive. But after this back and forth, we are now left to wonder who is asking the tough questions? Who is running the show? Who is trying to get to the bottom of how the system failed?
Instead of making wishy-washy statements to the media, enacting ridiculous rules that have a better chance of bankrupting the airline industry and having terrorists laughing hysterically while they skip to their local recruitment office than actually saving any lives, perhaps someone should be investigating the inner sanctum to find out how and why the real breakdown occurred.
Let’s start looking here:
1. This Nigerian terrorist was on a watch list AND his father called to warn the U.S. Government about his son’s extreme religious views. Why was this lead not followed-up on or taken seriously? Why was this person even allowed to board a plane?
2. He bought a one-way ticket, with cash and had no checked luggage. Wouldn’t this seem suspicious? One would think this should flag a person for additional screening and questioning. Perhaps some additional training for red-flags is needed.
3. Apparently, high-tech body scanning equipment is available at the Amsterdam airport. These machines, when used, scan a person’s body and by all accounts would have detected the explosives that the Nigerian had concealed on his body. Why is it that the Amsterdam airport is not using them? And why wouldn’t someone listed on a watch list not be made to pass through them? Especially someone with the above two criteria.
And while this is a serious matter, one that I get rather heated about, I am always up for a good laugh. If you are on Twitter, you can get some giggles by searching the #tsaslogans hash tags. Or check out this list compiled by WorldHum. And the comments over on the TSA blog are also quite entertaining.
I will continue to update this post as changes regarding the TSA rules surface.
I’d love to know your thoughts on the matter. Start a conversation in the comments.
Photo Credit : Lilit on Flickr