Has US domestic airport security begun to fail again?

Speak of the devil…

The New York Times: Europe Fears Islamic Converts May Give Cover for Extremism

It was sarcasm. :wink:

Sometimes people acting suspiciously should be treated as such. Just ask James Woods

As to security on planes. It’s a hard one. People want it but don’t necessarily want to deal with it themselves. I do think the nail clipper etc. BS is just window dressing though.

I can’t help but notice that that Snopes article never says that the flight Woods was on was one of the flights used by the Sept. 11 hijackers for dry runs. In other words, a month before Sept. 11 there was a flight from Boston to L.A. with four Middle-Eastern men on it, and those men spent the entire flight in their seats without eating, reading, or sleeping, and we have, again, no idea if those were hijackers or just four men who didn’t like airline food.

Is this what passes for “suspicious” these days? Hell, I’ve sometimes spent an entire cross-country flight to Los Angeles without reading or sleeping myself. I’ve never gone a five-hour flight without eating or drinking, but I don’t follow any particular diet either.

I think on my next flight I’m going to pay very close attention to large groups of Caucasians who talk loudly and eat and drink a lot, because clearly those people could be terrorists trying to pass under the radar of their watchful fellow passengers.

Brilliant posts by Orbifold.

Those 14 poor guys sound like ordinary honest hard-working musicians either having a fear of flying and/or being nervous because of the attention they’re getting (that also explains the “cold look” the author thought she was getting from one of them).

My little thought after reading the story: did the author attempt to interview those musicians afterwards? At least one of them spoke English. If not, why not?

Slightly off topic, but that story is likely an urban legend. Certainly, there’s never been a jailbreak using old playing cards in that way. The theory was that the diazo compounds formerly contained in the red dye used in old playing cards, when mixed with potassium permangate, could potentially be used as an explosive device. William Poundstone in Big Secrets surmised that there weren’t nearly enough diazo compounds in an average pack of playing cards to fashion a bomb, and, besides, where would a prisoner get hold of a supply of potassium permangate?

Plus, you’d still need a fuse, and probably a lighter, too, which hopefully would not go undetected by airport security.

As a long-time collector of playing cards, I can pretty much say that the cards in question have not been manufactured in the United States since the 1940’s. I’m not even sure if the diazo-containing red dye is even manufactured anymore.

I think it’s suspicious that there were only five people in domestic first class. I’ve not been on a domestic flight in the past year that’s first class cabin wasn’t full with people using frequent flier upgrades. Maybe I should change airlines.

You are allowed lighters and books of matches on a flight. You can thank the tobacco lobby for that bit of legislation - smokers want to light up as soon as possible after a long flight without having to track down a convenience store just to buy a 10 cent book of matches.

I think “window dressing” is probably the perfect phrase. Reinforced cockpit doors are a good idea, so are more air marshals (though last I head, people in DC were bogarting them :rolleyes:). The rest is crap. In the last three years, we know of one terrorist attack that got as far as the airport. That was Richard Reid. Airport security was no problem for him. If he’d had the foresight to bring a lighter, he’d have succeeded.

All the confiscation remarks remind me of a story I read about a year or two ago … The State of California was having an auction of some kind, and selling all the crap they had confiscated from passengers since 9/11. So not only are you providing jobs for the nail-clipper-makers (just forget they’re in China, OK?) but you are supporting the state at the same time! Bonus!

Brilliant idea! Because Canadian buffoons have a long history of hijacking planes, religious inspired fanatical hatred, slitting throats and terrorist bombings. Anyway the second part is up. I find it unlikely to be a dry run or an aborted but actual terrorist attempt, probably just a bunch of clueless Syrian musicians and a slightly hysterical woman (what he looked cold and defiantly at you?! How’s that for proof!) - but at least it doesn’t seem to be a hoax. Also letting PC prevent you from being more vigilant on those groups (clue: not Canadian lumberjacks) of people who have hijacked planes before and are most likely to do it again is just plain stupidity. The world is a dangerous place and there are sick and evil people who would gladly put your children on a stake. You want to prevent that you better face up to realities.


Let’s not forget their propensity for wearing women’s clothing and hanging around in bars, however.

I was in fact being sarcastic. My point stands, though: if those 14 men hadn’t had Arabic passports, the author of that article probably wouldn’t have batted an eye. You can call that “PC”. I call it a giant glaring hole in the author’s supposed vigilance that sooner or later a determined terrorist will exploit.

We could institute a continent-wide policy which ensures that no one from “dangerous” countries like Syria, Jordan, or Iran can get on a plane without being strip-searched, browbeaten, and tied to their chair while in flight, and then Al Qaeda will just recruit their members from allied countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. We could expand the strip-searching to every country in the Middle East, and then count the minutes until someone in Al Qaeda says “Hey, don’t they practice Islam in Indonesia too?” We could force every air traveller from a country with a majority Islamic population to spend every flight duct-taped to their chair between two heavily armed air marshals with attitude problems, and then watch as Al Qaeda starts recruiting Caucasians…or starts searching for unscrupulous ground crew personnel who’ll leave packages tucked under bathroom sinks for money, or just starts blowing up planes with Stinger missiles from the ground.

I am quite aware that the world is a dangerous place. I am also aware that Annie Jacobsen’s extreme paranoia has done nothing to make it less dangerous. Her wailing and gnashing of teeth seems to ignore the fact that by her own account the TSA was already aware of any potential danger on that flight. Those fourteen men were apparently watched by undercover air marshals the entire flight and interrogated afterwards for good measure. What more, exactly, was she expecting?

And in fact, I think that Annie Jacobsen’s demand that we focus on this one aspect of a multi-faceted threat may be dangerous in and of itself. If we create two lines at airport security, the bombs are just going to gravitate to the lower-security line. Pretending otherwise is like washing your hands with amoxycillin instead of soap; sooner or later it’s just asking for trouble. That’s the reality I’m facing up to, thank you very much.

Ok. I didn’t see that.

Indeed, and that is in fact exactly what seems to be happening just now , though I sincerely doubt they’ll find it as easy to recruit young Norwegian blond girls to act as suicide bombs as young middle eastern men, and in any case it’ll slow them down. However nobody is advocating giving everybody else free reins to do as they please. Just that as long as people from certain groups (young men, Middle-East, Muslims) are overrepresented it makes damn good sense to be extra vigilant about just those. But I absolutely agree that it’s never going to be possible to create a 100% effective defence against terrorism. Which is why it is so important to tackle the problem at its roots. And I wonder if you (Americans) have thought good and carefully about what you will do when it happens next time – which it will.

The mystery has been solved! And not by the wily and experienced investigative journalists of the New York Times and Washington Post, but by a man who is “nominally the ‘news director’ for Stanford University’s student radio station.”

Here is the skinny, given in a tongue in cheek manner.

But beware, this link takes you to an article on National Review Online. As some folks around here are quick to point out, the National Review is a conservative mag, and thus probably evil and/or likes to kick puppies. :wink:

Basically, the Syrians were actually a Syrian musical band with no intention of blowing up anywhere except on stage, and then only in the parlance of today’s youth. The article is still critical of security procedures, but we can all rest easier knowing that this wasn’t some dry run followed by a vast government cover-up.

. . . . Or was it? [insert dramatic music]

That last part is more appropriate than you think. As I mentioned in the equivalent Pit post, the fact that the Feds won’t say which casino the band was hired to play at, and that “nobody” can track down which it was, is proof that the Feds are covering something up, either a further investigation, or their own incompetence.

Basically, this seems to say to me that no matter what, those men, whether guilty or not, will always be assumed to be guilty, and that nothing anyone can say will change that for some people. And that’s really sad.

Leaper, please take another look at the article I’ve linked. It says that the band was scheduled to play – and did play – at Sycuan Casino & Resort, near San Diego. It identifies the artist that was playing – Nour Mehana – and his band. It states that the band’s promoters “did receive a follow-up e-mail from the Department of Homeland Security, asking him to confirm that the band had played their gig at Sycuan.” But by all accounts, the feds’ investigation has been closed.

So it seems like your concerns have been answered.

Hrm. All of the stuff I mentioned was discussed before this article came out, of course. But I was more concerned with the fact that even though the Feds assured everyone that the band was indeed a band and totally innocent, that there were still people that insisted that the whole thing smelled fishy. If you look at my last post in that sense, I think you’ll see what I meant.

I do not see why Al-Queda would want to repeat the 9-11 atrocities…they have (by virtue of 9-11) proven that they :
-can strike at targets inside the USA
-can activate cells inside countries, and direct terro activities with minimal central controls
In my opinion, it is far more likely that their next feat will be to show the world that senior US government officals arenot safe from attack.Logically, these means an attack on the Republican convention in NYC. I would suspect a bio weapon (possibly anthrax), dispersed in some major transportation venue, like Grand Central Station.
The US government has never found the source of the anthrax attacks of previous years…this may well have been A-Q’s probing first attacks-these bastards will not hesitate to strike with whatever agents they have available. As we speak, there are probably cells in Newark, New haven, Queens, etc., getting their instructions and waiting. :eek: