Airport Security: Annoying TSA Street Theater
WC was stopped by airport security in Anchorage not long ago, on suspicion he might have more than two ounces of toothpaste. The TSA guy, whose uniform was about 1.5 sizes too small for him, examined the sad, mostly used tube with care, consulted with his supervisor and solemnly advised me it would have to be confiscated. It does no good to get angry, so WC didn’t. But it did prompt some research into the events that led to that particular part of the bad street theater that is TSA policy.
Remember all of the excitement when the British busted eight men who, Scotland Yard said, were participants in an elaborate plot to blow up passenger aircraft. The plan was supposedly drawn up in Pakistan with detailed instructions. British authorities claimed a mystery al-Qaida bomb-maker was responsible for a liquid bomb design, concealed within 500ml Oasis or Lucozade bottles. Surveillance teams watched alleged terrorist Ali on his return to Britain as he assembled his terror cell, gathered materials and identified targets.
So how many of the eight conspirators were found guilty of plotting to bomb airlines using liquid bombs? Er… None. Zero. Zilch. Mohammed Gulzar, 27, from Barking, east London, who was one of the alleged ringleaders, was cleared of all offenses. The jury was unable to reach a verdict on any of the conspiracy to murder charges for the four remaining men. After dithering a while. the British declined to re-try the other seven.
The jury did convict three of the eight for conspiracy to set off a bomb at Heathrow Airport. But no one was convicted of plotting to blow up an airplane, let alone with a liquid bomb.
WC’s toothpaste was sacrificed to an hysterical over-reaction by U.S. authorities to a failed anti-terrorism case in Britain.
Did you know that explosive liquids can be detected by existing scanning equipment? It’s true. It’s street theater, folks. It’s mummery. It’s done to us to make us feel better. And because TSA doesn’t want to be blamed for insufficient zeal if a passenger jet is blown up.
God help us all if al Quaeda starts a rumor that it is going to blow up a passenger jet with bombs hidden in tooth fillings.