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Find The Boots

Rantings from a few corporate types about life, technology, travel, guns, politics, and everything good in the world.

The NYT Makes Sense

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

[Editors note - this is a guest column by regular reader TierFlyer and it's not about boondoggles, but about aviation security. He's going to crosspost it at FlyerTalk too. We'll try to get the link for that.]

Ok, could not find this story anywhere, and even though it violates two rules I thought I'd post it for everyone to read.

What rules? One: trusting the NYT. Two: The TSA is run by communisty idiot Hawley, his drooling lackeys, and other assorted eeevil Bushiterites.

Anyway, here :
In a canyon in New Mexico, technicians detonated beaker after beaker of liquid explosives. In laboratories in Florida and New Jersey, scientists concocted dangerous brews. In drugstores and supermarkets in the Washington area, government officials shopped for tiny containers of shaving cream, shampoo and toothpaste.

Since a London-based plot to bomb airliners was broken up seven weeks ago, aviation security officials in the United States have pushed to assess how serious that threat was and what safeguards should be taken. The revised checkpoint rules announced last week by American, Canadian and European authorities were the result of that frenzied effort....
Then some more details and a money quote:
But the changes also provoked some skepticism by the public about the reasoning behind the decision.
Uh, yes, if you hang about on FT! :-)
Aviation security officials said they were confident they had settled on a sound course. "We looked at it from the chemistry point of view, the physics point of view — which kind of operational tactics one might use, with different scenarios," said Kip Hawley, the assistant secretary for the transportation agency. "The arrangement we came up with does have a good margin of error."

The testing, Mr. Hawley said, confirmed that the risks posed by the London plot were real. "This was a serious, serious, serious threat — chilling is the word,” he said in an interview last week. But extensive work by government and university scientists showed that the threat could be largely counteracted by limits on the size of containers", he said.
Oh, my god, Comrade Hawley can sound reasonable! Man the barricades!

But wait, there is more (after the usual NYT duelling experts with differing opinions about speed and wisdom) about the London plot:

With the seal on a sports drink called Lucozade intact, the plotters apparently intended to remove the drink with a hypodermic needle and replace it with highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide, a syrupy liquid once used as rocket fuel.

Another bottle would be filled with a common household substance, which The New York Times agreed not to disclose at the request of Homeland Security officials. After the two were mixed, a detonator hidden in a hollowed-out AA battery would be used to set off the bomb, according to this theory.
Gee, I thought I had read on FlyerTalk many experts talking about how that was impossible.

Please note that the NYT reporter and editors do fly on commercial airliners - they kept details of the explosive mix secret - unlike the NSA wiretap program they exposed. Hypocracy, they name is J-School.

So, what is the explanation behind what people at FlyerTalk are calling the "Freedom Bag Rodeo?" Well:
Taking into account the possibility that terrorists might act as a team and pool ingredients, officials arrived at the limit of one quart-size plastic bag per passenger. That amount of liquid explosives could still cause damage or harm passengers, but it would be unlikely to destroy a plane, officials said.

"It is well within the comfort zone of what we need to protect the public," Mr. Hawley said.
And a great ending quote:
Mr. McHale, the former T.S.A. deputy administrator, said he thought the agency had made a reasonable decision.

"You have to act on the info you know, not fears of what you don't know," he said. "People who aren't faced with the pressures of keeping the aviation system running might prefer to just shut the system down or have everybody fly naked. But obviously, you can't do that."
Actually, I can say for sure that here and on FT the mood is quite a bit not "more restrictions" and that anyone who travels things we need more cloth coverage and less partial nudity!

   

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