Thursday, August 10

If I can't have my iPod, Al Qaeda has won

Osama vs Steve Jobs: talk about your clash of the civilisations!

osama_ipod.thumbUnless you're living in a cave -- whoops, sorry Osama -- you know by now that a foiled plot to blow up UK airlines has prompted an unprecedented security crackdown at airports in Britain and the United States. No carry-on baggage, no iPods, no magazines, no liquids. Nothing other than wallets, money and passport.

(Baby milk is okay but you have to taste it -- ew!)

There is a precedent for this. Al Qaeda actually detonated a bomb constructed from an eyedrop bottle filled with nitroglycerin on an airplane in the 1990s, killing one passenger. But aside from the absurdity of taste-tested breast milk, can we talk about all the dangerous items today's new security measures leave out? What about, say, watch batteries? Prison inmates have been known to makes shivs out of newspapers, so is a deadly in-flight magazine really that implausible?

The point is, a determined killer can always find a way. And they make needles-in-haystacks look positively ubiquitous: something like 70 million (presumably non-terrorist) passengers fly through Heathrow every year.

Even worse, who is to say that the ridiculous-sounding security limits implemented today won't be the norm...forever? I know it's a bit of a blogging faux pas to quote BoingBoing, but this bit from Cory sums it up perfectly:

If this is a good idea now, then why won't it still be a good idea in a year? A decade? After all, terrorist plots will always exist in potentia (can you prove that no terrorist plots are hatching at this moment?) Until they handcuff us all nude to our seats and dart us with tranquilizers, there will always be the possibility that a passenger will do something naughty on a plane (even then, who knows how much semtex and roofing nails a bad guy could hide in his colon?).
Sure enough, just a minute ago CNN just announced that the security limits will be in effect "for the foreseeable future."

Cory again:
The point of terrorism is to make us afraid. The UK response to a foiled plot is to create an unspecified period during which fliers are arbitrarily deprived of iPods, novels and dignity.
I don't know about you, but on a long haul flight I care a lot more about the former two.

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