Browsing Tag: Terrorism

Is this plane going to the US? No printer cartridges allowed -- gotta protect America.

Is this plane going to the US? TSA says no printer cartridges allowed -- gotta protect America.

I am angry and frustrated at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) right now. In classic form they have once again over-reacted in an idiotic fashion. I am not saying the recent mailing of bombs in printer cartridges across the world is not serious, but it demands real solutions, not knee-jerk reactions.

In a statement released by the DHS, they state that they are banning all cargo from Yeman. Okay, this makes sense. It is not like we have a lot of imported goods coming from Yemen. However, they are also banning cargo from Somalia. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they have some intelligence that we do not know about. The release also states, “No high risk cargo will be allowed on passenger aircraft.” Okay, so far I am actually with the TSA here. Banning dangerous cargo from certain places in the world until we can figure out the risk actually kind of makes sense.

When reading, I assumed we must be talking about dangerous things like explosives, flammable items and bombs right? Think again. In the next sentence they continue with, “Toner and ink cartridges over 16 ounces will be prohibited on passenger aircraft in both carry-on bags and checked bags on domestic and international flights in-bound to the United States.” Say what?

This is stupid. I hate to call anyone names, but there is just no other way to say it. This no-thought reaction actually makes me feel less safe. This is telling me that the TSA cannot detect a bomb no matter what form it takes. Do they think that terrorist will give up since they can’t figure out anything else to put bombs in? Please. Not that I think there are a heck of a lot of people carrying around large printer cartridges in their baggage, but what’s next?

Since the ban is sort of a shock, you might have missed the part where this is only for flights within and inbound to the United States. So, it is totally fine to fly with a printer cartridge on an airline departing the US, you just can’t bring any back. What sense does that make?

It is easy to ban printer cartridges since they are not common, but what if terrorists start using items that would be difficult to ban? Would the TSA start banning laptops or stuffed animals if terrorists start using them? I wish the TSA would stop wasting time and money with pointless security measures like this. They need to be honest with the public that there is no 100% solution and be smarter about bomb detection. The airline business has seen many good and horrid changes since 9/11. However, in the last nine years 0 Americans have died from terrorism on airlines. Compare that to the about 315,000 Americans who have died in automobile accidents over the same period of time. Some might say that scanning shoes and your toothpaste is related to those 0 deaths, but I say it has more to do with this not being the huge threat the TSA and the media like to play it up to be.

When I got word of this story a few days ago, I tried to contact two different TSA sources, but no one would contact me back (and I was not this snarky). The TSA is proud of their “Talk to the TSA” campaign, but I guess you can only talk to them about stuff they want to talk about. I have tried to get the TSA’s side to things, but they just don’t seem to want to talk, which is greatly disappointing to me. If you are not happy with the body scanners and their crazy knee-jerk reactions, I highly suggest you trying to talk to the TSA. If you get a reply, let me know.

TSA not up to the job.

TSA not up to the job. Check on the Image link below for the story on this picture!

Is the TSA going crazy? Yes! At least in my opinion. I won’t get into how silly it is for me to take off my shoes every time I fly because of something someone tried to do eight years ago. That seems kind of old school now. I think I should talk more about the recent developments.

If you haven’t heard already, on Christmas Day, a man tried to blow up Delta Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit. Long story short (not to down play the incident), the man tried to detonate explosives on the plane that were sewn into his clothes. Luckily, it failed, passengers were able to restrain him, and the Airbus 300 with all 278 people aboard was able to land safely. The man claims al Qaeda connections, but those have not been confirmed.

Yes, someone trying to kill almost 300 people is a HORRID act and should not be glossed over. However, having a bad knee-jerk reaction is not the right move. Homeland Security and TSA announced some pretty crazy rules after this incident.  These rules were made just for international flights coming to the US and here are a few of my favorite:

* Passengers were not able to get out of their seats during the last hour of flight. This makes little sense to me. If someone wanted to blow up a plane, it would be easy to do it any other time. Yes, terrorists want to make the biggest scene possible and exploding a plane right before landing, but I doubt this rule would stop someone from blowing up or hi-jacking a plane.

* Disabling of all GPS systems on aircraft. Many international aircraft have in-flight entertainment systems (IFE) with a map showing where the aircraft current location.  If an airline cannot disable the GPS separately from the IFE, the whole system must be disabled. That means if you paid more to fly on an airline with a great IFE, you won’t be able to enjoy it. This seems like one of the craziest rules, because: #1 someone could bring a portable GPS system, #2 you can have a basic idea where you are by simple math, #3 just look out the window.

* Passengers are being frisked more.  TSA is telling passengers to expect to be patted down at the gate before boarding. On the outside this seems like it might actually help, but the most recent terrorist had the explosives sewed into his clothes. I also don’t appreciate being patted down by some stranger to go visit my family.

Already the TSA is backing down on some of their requirements. TSA is saying that airlines can once again use their IFE and passengers do not need to stay seated during the last hour of the flight. Doesn’t the fact that the TSA is loosening their restrictions show even they realize this was a knee-jerk reaction and doesn’t provide any real security?

It is disappointing that the TSA had over eight years since September 11th to come up with a solid solution, but so far, I am not impressed. How about stopping a guy, who was on the watch list, bought a one-way ticket in cash, had his father call the US embassy to warn his son might do something stupid and has ties to other terrorists, from getting onto a plane? Finding a way to stop people like that from boarding planes seems like a much smarter approach than making me sit during the last hour of the flight and taking away my IFE.

Of course I do not want a plane to be hi-jacked or be blown up, but I am not willing to give up my personal rights, my privacy or have a huge inconvenience for a very, very, very low chance of something happening.

The reality is, if someone wants to blow up a plane, it is not that difficult. Look at this most recent incident; he had so many indicators, but was still able to get onto the plane. There are so many security holes, with a little effort and enough people, this can happen again, even with huge security reforms. I am not going to let this scare me into not flying and I hope it doesn’t stop you.

Here are some other great perspectives on this incident I have enjoyed reading:
* Dan Webb with Things in the Sky
* Brett Snyder with Cranky Flier
* Mary Kirby on her blog and via Twitter
* Steven Frischling with Flying with Fish
* How could this happen? By the NY Times

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