Sunday, December 27, 2009

Closing the Barn door?

The airlines said the new T.S.A. measures required an additional round of searches, including body pat-downs at airport gates overseas.
International travelers were also told that they could not leave their seats for the last hour of a flight, during which time they also could not use a pillow or blanket. They were also limited to one piece of carry-on baggage, including a purse or briefcase, and that piece had to be stowed in an overhead compartment for the last hour of a flight.
Airlines were ordered to turn off in-flight entertainment systems with maps showing a plane’s location, and pilots and flight crews were told not to make comments about cities or landmarks below the flight path.(NYT)
 So, TSA is convinced that because this recent attempt happened in the last hour of the flight that this is where the emphasis should be?  That a terrorist could not figure out for him or herself where the plane is (going to ban watches next?)?  Last hour restrictions?  This makes sense if you are worried about driving planes into DC, but why should we expect that terrorists only want to act in the last hour?

Pat downs might make some kind of sense, except that the time/labor spent versus false positives and false negatives, makes this a tactic that is likely to be ineffective yet inconvenient.

The limits on the baggage make the most sense--that the less stuff on the plane means less stuff gets on the plane. 

Still, most of the first reactions seem to be over-reactions.  How do we address these rogue individuals?  This is a hard problem that requires more complex responses.

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