Saturday, September 02, 2006


So it turns out that I inadvertently tested the new no liquid through security at airports rules on my recent flight back from Colorado Springs (a trip which you can read about here with pictures.) As I was digging through my camera bag in search of my car keys I came across a small bottle of lens cleaner that I keep in one of the pockets on the bag; a bag which had gone through the xray machines and all before I boarded the plane. Now this made me chuckle particularly since as we were exiting the plane one of the ladies on the flight was complaining that they had made her get rid of her mascara. She came across as being a very unpleasant person and so I could not help but think that she deserved it.

“So James,” I can hear you lot thinking, “what is your point?”

It is this. I think the new security rules are ridiculous, particularly in light of the difficulties inherent in dealing with binary liquid explosives. They make a great threat in thrillers and action movies but the reality is a bit more complicated. Just think about it for a minute. If this was easy to do don’t you think they would have done it by now? We often make the mistake of thinking that terrorists are animals because of their incomprehensible behavior when in truth they are probably as smart and creative as anyone else you are likely to meet on the street.

Of course the government is caught in a trap of its own making. Since 9-11 we have allowed the government and the media to create and perpetuate an atmosphere of fear. This fear is a two-edged sword for the government. On the one hand it has allowed them to redefine the role of the executive and browbeat any dissent as being on the side of the terrorists however it has also obligated them to take actions in order to try and alleviate this fear. They know that a binary liquid explosive is going to be challenging to produce however the news stories generated by the British authorities shutting down a terrorist plot aimed at America appear to be worth a lot of capital and perhaps even a bounce in job approval. They are faced with a choice? Do we admit that this is a nigh-impossible scenario for all but the most accomplished and organized of terror groups to accomplish and thus downplay the importance of the recent British victories in the War on Terror? Or do we make a mountain out of a mole-hill and put a whole new collection of ridiculous regulations in place in an effort to allay the public’s fear all the while reminding them that they have something to fear? I think we know what path was chosen.

Now I am not saying that the BLE is impossible to pull off or that the network in the UK was not a credible threat, although I do find it interesting that there have been reports indicating the British authorities wanted to wait a bit longer before rolling up the network but that our government forced their hand, all I am saying is that the government chose to scare us rather than really protect us. Of course as I said this doesn’t matter to me, it just changes how I will be buying things in the duty-free stores in Korea as I imagine a bottle of scotch will be more challenging to inadvertently smuggle through security than the bottle of lens cleaner.
  • You can read about my other terrorist activities here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

FYI - Scott and Melissa went duty free back to Canada and absolutely no problems buying and transporting the stuff on board and across the border...