Good thing they were keeping a close eye on the libertarians

(The subject line refers to that which has been keeping the DHS too busy to keep track of the Fort Hood shooter and the NW 253 bomber.)

I’m a bit late in weighing in on the attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam, but it’s worth at least posting another public thank-you to Jasper Schuringa for doing what at least two governments could not and keeping the passengers of NW 253 safe.  Now that I’ve done that, I may as well snark about it a bit.

Megan McArdle comments thus:

I don’t know what annoys me more:  Janet Napolitano saying “the system worked” when what she means is “the system failed, but smart passengers proved that the system is unnecessary”, or the moronic new rules the TSA is apparently putting into place in order to “prevent” future such occurances.  The TSA’s obsession with fighting the last war is so strong that I expect any day to see them building wooden forts at our nation’s airports in order to keep the redcoats at bay.  Every time they miss something, we have to give up more liberty.

Which is not to say that I make common cause with those claiming this as some special failure of the Obama administration.

The TSA has been a useless piece of shit since well before Obama took office, and one of the greatest hopes I hold out for the health-care reform bill is that, as its real costs swell beyond what the CBO was permitted to consider, someone will take a look around the federal budget and decide that we really don’t need a “TSA”, anyway.  I hold similar hopes for the prompt dissolution of the FTC, FCC, and BATFE (among others).  It’ll never happen, but wishful thinking is free until implemented in policy.

Radley Balko echoes the theme that smart, determined passengers are a more effective counterterrorism method than body-imaging scanners or carry-on liquid restrictions (weren’t those supposed to have prevented devices like this one?):

Seems to me that what this, Flight 93, and the Richard Reid incident have shown us is that the best line of defense against airplane-based terrorism is us. Alert, aware, informed passengers.

TSA, on the other hand, equates hassle with safety. For all the crap they put us through, this guy still got some sort of explosive material on the plane from Amsterdam. He was stopped by law-abiding passengers. So TSA responds to all of this by . . . announcing plans to hassle law-abiding U.S. passengers even more.

Eric Crampton goes further:

So, is it then:

  1. The TSA are in it with the terrorists to create maximum inconvenience for travelers and augment the TSA budget
  2. The TSA are complete idiots
  3. There’s nothing the TSA can really do, but idiots demand they do something and the only something that passengers can observe is how much they’re being inconvenienced?

I lean towards the last one, with a slim chance of the first one.

I suppose that, in the end, this strategy is a winning one: if the TSA makes flying so utterly obnoxious that no-one bothers to fly any more by such conspicuous displays of arrogant ignorance, the airplanes will be grounded for lack of profit and terrorists will have no reason to attack them any more.  At last, a clear path towards victory!

Edit: Now they’re keeping us even safer by going after bloggers.  That’s super.


2 Responses to “Good thing they were keeping a close eye on the libertarians”

  1. December 29, 2009 at 21:33

    Maybe they should just shut TSA down and offer everyone the weapon of their choice on boarding.

    Airline attendant of the future: “Coffee, tea – crossbow?” “Would you like a bayonet with that rifle?” “I’m sorry sir, you can’t activate that laser sight until after takeoff.”

    And the magazine racks wouldn’t be filled with People or Popular Mechanics

    Airlines are one reason I love traveling with dogs. They give me the perfect to drive.

  2. 2 aczarnowski
    December 30, 2009 at 09:37

    I’m holding out hope that the TSA is too young to have learned about slowly boiling the frog to keep it from jumping out of the pot. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll overstep and we’ll be able to jump free.

    The only reasonable way to defend against a distributed threat is to distribute the defense. That we’re going the opposite direction tells me a lot about those around me.

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