As of this Tuesday, US and Canadian airports will be allowing air passengers to carry certain cosmetics and liquids with them on board, providing these items are in a sealed, clear plastic bag. Security officials claim they know what they’re looking for in terms of terrorist explosives and have let airline passengers carry certain, briefly banned, items with them once again.
During the chaos, I am reminded of just a few years ago, when a man was caught trying to light explosives in his shoes on board an American flight. The man was subdued, but nevertheless, the next time I stepped onto an America airplane, I was required to take off my shoes and have them thoroughly ex-rayed and eyeballed. Embarrassing for me and a hundred other ticket holders on their way to or through Chicago; smelly and sweaty for customs’ agents.
The nation-wide (and at times international) shoe search produced no terrorists or dangerous devices. This may not be the consensus, but it seems to me that all the heightened security was doing was highlighting the fact that nobody really has any clue about how to deal with disasters. One time, somebody had a bomb in his or her shoe. Solution? Search everyone’s shoes. Another time, someone brought liquid explosives on board. Solution this time? Ban liquids on all flights. A little wise in hindsight, perhaps? These measures aren’t really going to help anyone, are they? Sooner or later, someone will have stuffed an explosive or a weapon into every article of clothing (or body cavity) possible. Then, everything we own will be banned and the only way we’ll be allowed to fly is after we strip naked, throw all of our luggage away and pass a cavity search.
So, it’s great that we’re allowed to travel with our makeup and liquids again, but what of the future? Are there any more comprehensive anti-terrorism solutions than pure hindsight?