Having observed government in action for 25 year, I thought I was no longer at the stage where I could be shocked by bureaucratic stupidity. Looking at the response to the recent terrorist attack, I was wrong. No, I’m not talking about the fact that the government knew Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab was an Al Qaeda sympathizer yet they were too incompetent to put him on the no-fly list. Nor am I talking about the inane political correctness that leads to random searches of grandmothers rather than focusing on young muslim men. Or the periodic seizure of my toothpaste by TSA drones. These are examples of typical government behavior.
What does shock me are two of the new “security” rules announced in the wake of Friday’s attempt. According to the Washington Post, “Passengers must remain seated for the final hour before landing. During that time, they may not have access to their carry-on baggage or hold personal items on their laps.” Let’s think about what possible impact this may have. Imagine you are Achmed the terrorist, and that you have something dangerous in your carry-on luggage. If your goal is to crash the plane, is it really going to matter to you whether you launch your attack 65 minutes before landing or 55 minutes before landing? What exactly do the bureaucrats think they are accomplishing with this rule?
The second rule – which also only could be dreamed up by a bureaucrat – is that: “While over U.S. airspace, flight crews may not make any announcements to passengers concerning the flight path or the airplane’s position over cities or landmarks.” Once again, let’s put ourselves in the mind of Achmed. And let’s assume Achmed has an IQ above 53. Achmed knows the projected time for his flight, and he presumably knows how to tell time. Is there even the slightest chance that this rule would stop a terrorist from taking down a plane, even if he wants to strike while the plane is in U.S. airspace? Again, what do the bureaucrats think will be achieved by this rule? But I suppose we should be happy they didn’t insist that all the windows be covered with newspaper so Achmed can’t tell when the plane is over land rather than ocean.