The threat of terrorism has been around for a very long time. In the 1960s we had a spate of hijackings and aircraft being blown up, and in the end this activity was the death-knell of Pan Am. In the 1970s this activity continued and it included the terrorist attack upon the Israeli Olympic team at Munich – oh how I cried that day when I read about what had been done in the name of terror. There have been many other incidents including the first attempted bombing of the World Trade Centre, the bombing of the Murrah building (why is it that the FBI stopped looking for that Middle Eastern person who was with McVeigh?) and eventually we had the most despicable of terrorist attacks when the Islamists successfully declared war by flying aircraft into the World Trade Centre killing thousands of people at the same time. Then there was the train bombings in Spain that killed hundreds, the Bali bombings that killed hundreds, the London bombings and so on it goes. All of these acts of terror have one thing in common – Islam. (Yes, there is an Islamic link to the Oklahoma City bombing but the FBI simply did not go far enough with the investigation).
Most of the reactions to these acts of terror have been reactive. Now I do agree with going through the metal detectors. These do make me feel a lot safer when I fly. I do not however, think that stopping people from having nail clippers and knitting needles is a reasonable response. People who knit are not going to hijack an aircraft and you cannot hide a ticking bomb in a knitting bag (it is usually stuffed with too much yarn and other bits and bobs!!). What is unreasonable in my view are the methods that are being recommended and put into use in the USA and elsewhere that involve the use of body scanners, and now with extraordinarily offensive and pat downs that are truly sexual molestation.
These new measures in the USA that are now being abused by the TSA are measures that are reactive. The introduction of what is now known as the porno scanners (they have been around for a few years) and the pat down measures are a reaction to the Christmas Day underwear bomber who failed, just like Richard Reid the failed shoe bomber, to ignite his bomb. In both of these cases the TSA and authorities elsewhere implemented new procedures. As a result of the attempt with the shoe bomb everyone has to remove their shoes to go through scanning. This is ridiculous because there has not been further attempts, no copycat shoe bombers, nothing, nada. It is a waste of time and it is inconvenient as well as being difficult for some people with balance problems. Yet, in the USA we have to take off our shoes to go through security. Time to put an end to the nonsense and reassess if this is indeed necessary.
It is the same with the underwear bomber and his failed attempt to light a bomb that was placed in his underwear. The only thing that got burned was his crotch. Now if we look at the facts that emerged in that case we find that he boarded the flight in Amsterdam. Not only that, but a person or persons unknown helped him to get onto the flight ergo the threat exists in Holland, in Amsterdam, not in small airports in the USA. There has not been any American, Australian or any other foreign tourist who has tried to duplicate the underwear bomb.
Whilst some new threats have emerged – an Islamist from Yemen blew himself up when detonating a bomb planted in his anus and it has been rumoured that some Islamic women are being fitted with bombs in breast implants – it is unreasonable to put ordinary travellers with the USA through the intrusive pat downs that are now being mandated.
Banning liquids because an Islamist terrorist cell in the UK was planning to bomb aircraft via the use of a baby bottle is reactive. Again, the normal American travelling public are not into duplicating the murderous deeds of the Islamists who hatch these plots. Forcing people to take off their shoes before going through security is also reactive. Why not let people walk through the metal detector and if the alarm is set off, then they can take off their shoes. All of these searches are reactive, not proactive. They are useless when they come after the fact. It is not likely that someone trying to board a flight in Florida to return home to New Hampshire is going to blow up the aircraft and this applies to the thousands who fly every day.