Security for Dummies

Today a bunch of "Islamic fascists" were arrested in London for plotting to blow up 10 transatlantic flights using liquid bombs. My parents are currently in Wales, and I think they were planning on returning in a little over a week. Who knows if their flight might have been targeted? It's unlikely, but there was (and still is, I suppose) a non-zero probability of something happening to any flight.

After watching the evening news tonight on several networks, I've come up with some comments on airport security guidelines & related topics:

  • On both networks I watched (CBS, NBC) there were dozens of clips of passengers throwing their liquid items into the trash, and then airport workers collecting huge bags full of discarded items & throwing them into dumpsters. If liqud bombs were a real concern, wouldn't the contents of the trash be treated with more respect than that?
  • I subscribe to the Crypto-Gram newsletter written by Bruce Schneier. One of the things he's written about over the last few years is airport security. Specifically, how they (being the "experts" at DHS/TSA) react to security threats. Usually, they act after the threat has been identified, or sometimes, after the second time. Responding after the threat is identified is like taking a final exam a second time, except people die. What's needed is more comprehensive security that responds to a broad range of threats, not silly movie plot scenarios.
  • I can't resist. Here's my movie plot scenario: If a terrorist is willing to die, surely they're willing to undergo some elective surgery. I don't think it would be impossible to implant some explosive device inside a human body. It would not be very comfortable, and would probably lead to infections after a while, but the bomber needs only to be able to tolerate it long enough to get on the airplane. Right now (and until someone attempts this) people are only put through the metal detector. Careful engineering could certainly prevent any kind of detection by that crude device.
  • Airline perks are going to make a comeback. Now that you can't take anything onto the airplane, the airline will have to supply diversions and food, or else they face very bored & unhappy passengers. The alternative is to start filling the cabin with N2O.
  • A coworker today theorized that the endgame in all of this is a plane full of passengers in hospital-like paper gowns handcuffed to the seats. Passengers will be supplied with absorbent underwear for the longer flights. Children will be put in cages. Do you think this can't happen?