With the recent terror plot foiled on the Delta flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, let's see if our government officials react sensibly or foolishly. If their past actions are an example, I'm not hopeful. They seem to equate more rules and more harassment of the flying public with better security. As a frequent flier and tech professional, the logic they use is often incomprehensible.
So here are some of the actions they are taking that make no sense and would not have foiled this recent incident.
1. Stay in your seats for the last hour of International flights. - The recent flight was over North American territory for a few hours before landing. A would-be terrorist will just make his move sooner. Or take a flight from the US to commit the crime during the first hour of the flight.
2. No electronics can be used on the flight. - What good will that do? No electronics were used in this incident. It will just make the passengers more crotchety, more bored, and add lots of work for the flight attendants, when they'd be better off paying attention to those passengers with strange behavior.
3. Tighter screening of all of us. - They'll check all of us, kids, senior citizens, elderly ladies in wheelchairs more carefully, instead of using profiling to search just those that come from the same areas of the world where the terrorists are known to live.
Here are some actions that would make a difference.
1. Require the use of the new body scanners in all airports that originate International flights into the US. - Start using them first on males that are non-US citizens, and as more become available screen the rest of the passengers.
2. - Limit the use of the toilets to 5 minutes. - All passengers would never be out of sight for longer than that, foiling the preparation of chemical bombs.
3. - Require kids and females to occupy the windows seats. - The attempt to bring a plane down is predicated on blowing a hole in the wall of the fuselage. Keep those that fit the profile on the aisle.
4. - Fire the US embassy employee in Nigeria that was warned by the bomber's father that his son was dangerous and failed to add him to the no-fly list. Let that be an example of others.
5. - Fix the list of 500,000 suspect fliers compiled by the TSA - Everyone knows the list has many that shouldn't be on it. But it's become so large it's meaningless. The bomber was on this list, but did it make a difference?
6. - Bring back the air marshals on every international flight. - They are trained to watch for suspicious passengers and even time the length they spend in the bathroom.
I really doubt they'll take these suggestions. They make too much sense. And if the Department of Homeland Security and the TSA are know for one thing, it's putting on a show with little rational substance behind it. So travelers, expect to be hassled and subjected to all sorts of inconveniences. Just don't try to make sense of it.
Follow Philip G. Baker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pbaker