Traveling Gets a Wee Bit Easier:

The TSA slightly relaxes rules on gels and liquids in carry-ons. Story here.

So there was no real threat and they wasted everyone's time and money for the last couple of months, not to mention irritating them by confiscating their liquids, or there is a real threat and they've decided to ignore it.

TSA was wrong then or is wrong now - which is it?
9.26.2006 10:31am
They were wrong then. The gatorade-bottle bomb scenario was implausible from the outset, and as more and more scientist weighed in to note just how ridiculously implausible it was, it beame ever more apparent that we aren't any safer because you can't take your coffee on the plane for chrissakes.
9.26.2006 10:34am
It's a case where the TSA had to do something to create the appearance of handling the situation. Banning liquids sent a signal that they were doing something.

The lighters prohibited but matches allowed provision is a similar flawed rationale.

Rationality of policies is outweighed by fear of inaction and subsequent outrage.
9.26.2006 1:11pm
Luke 1152 (mail):
You just have to wonder how much evidence has to pile up before more american realize what incompetent dishonest boobs are running our government.
9.26.2006 1:38pm
GetReal (mail):
So as I understand the gist of the comments here, if a potential threat is identified, the TSA should just take a wait and see posture until there is a consensus about whether there is a threat. Or should all flights be cancelled until that consensus is reached?
9.26.2006 1:41pm
People seem to be confusing the story and reading it to say that there never was a real threat of this type of attack. Of course, if that's what you believe before you read a story, it's only natural to warp a story to match your pre-conceived notions
9.26.2006 2:29pm
OK then GetReal, we can commend them for being proactive and dealing with a potential threat the other month. So what are we supposed to think now - that the threat has suddenly gone away? If there was any reason to believe that such a threat existed then, there is no less reason to think so now. The only thing that has changed is that the UK Plot is no longer front-page news, so they no longer think they have to annoy the hell out of everyone to provide an illusion of "safety".
9.26.2006 2:31pm
Fantasia, if there was in fact a real threat then, it certainly still exists now.
9.26.2006 2:32pm
You are confusing the existence of a threat with the degree of a threat. I think taking precautions "above and beyond" the degree of a perceived threat and then relaxing those precautions under further research is exactly the right way to handle these situations.
9.26.2006 3:24pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
They were wrong then, and they're wrong now. So each person can bring on liquids that fit in a plastic bag because such is not enough to make an explosive? And I suppose more than one terrorist has never gotten on a plane? Or is it that you can't even make enough explosive with TEN quart-size ziploc bags full of liquids? If that's so, then why can't I carry on my regular-sized bottle of shampoo?

It's not even like they'd have to get on the same flight so as to arouse any suspicion. They just have to get to the secured area with their carry-ons.

For all the money we spend on the TSA, maybe we could just pay off the terrorists.
9.26.2006 3:37pm
GetReal (mail):
My questions remain unanswered. What should the TSA have done? Sat on their hands? Not made the threat public? I see a lot of complaints about what a poor job the TSA does, but few concrete suggestions on how to improve the situation - other than paying off the terrorists.
9.26.2006 3:49pm
Arvin (mail) (www):
What the TSA should have done: make the threat public. Alert airline passengers to be watchful of other passengers who appear to be combining liquids. Recommend passengers not to do this if possible, so as to avoid arousing suspicion. Put out some sort of alert to airlines and flight attendants.


There is an argument about trading convenience for security, and reasonable people can differ on where the line is. But the regulations implemented in mid-August, and the laxer ones implemented now, give us almost NOTHING in terms of security, and take a helluva lot of convenience in return.

Alert passengers wouldn't stop a determined terrorist (bulky clothes and carrying the liquids to the bathroom would circumvent their eyes). But since these regs wouldn't stop him either, what's the point of inconveniencing everyone? Just so we're "doing something"?
9.26.2006 3:59pm
Luke 1152 (mail):

TSA was wrong then or is wrong now - which is it?

But you assume that the TSA was motivated by concerns about public safety. It is not.

Only 1-2% of cargo is screened for explosives so there is virtually no impediment for anyone wishing to use a bomb to bring down a plane.

The TSA's hysteria was nothing more than political manipulation aimed at increasing the fear of the public. Remember the 24 "terrorists" who were arrested because of their imminent plot? As I understand it, more than 1/2 are now released on bail and none of them had even started the process of acquiring passports. Quite sensibly, British intelligence wanted to continue intelligence gathering, but the US pressured them to take immediate action.

So everyone in America got a nice little jolt of fear a few months before the election.

No doubt, there will be another little scare in the next few weeks, too. All part of the "run on fear" election strategy.
9.26.2006 5:24pm
Luke 1152 (mail):
What should the TSA have done?
9.26.2006 5:26pm
Luke 1152 (mail):
sorry for the double post . . .

What should the TSA have done?

1) Screen every bit of cargo for explosives

Yes this would cause a massive disruption. So be it.

2) End most of the nonsense at the gates. People without special passes - see below - have to walk through a metal detector and have luggage x-rayed. That's it. Keep your shoes and jackets on. Keep your water and toothpaste. The chance of a non-metallic explosive being concealed beneath a coat are teeny, tiny. The whole "mix your own liquid explosives" is just nonsense.

3) Allow knives back on planes. Now you can have a 12 inch long titanium "knitting needle" or a pair of scissors with a 4 inch long razor sharp metal blade. If you unscrew the two parts of the scissors, you have (in effect) two knives. The current limitations are just retarded.

4) Implement passes for people who have passed simple background check that will allow them to skip all pre-board screening. That's right. No metal detectors, no x-rays nothing. Not everyone will get such a pass, but most people will. The chances of a 45 year old guy who was born here and who flies 100,000 miles a year will decide to take a gun or a bomb on a plane are vanishingly small. So are the chances that a 70 year old retiree from Boca Raton. Yes there is a bit of risk. But you probably have a better chance of being killed driving to the airport.

That would be a good start.
9.26.2006 5:37pm