November 19, 2001

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Aviation Security - Have we learned from Pan Am Flight 103?

Does the new Aviation Security Legislation provide comprehensive security?

It seems the answer to that question is yes and no. Yes ... because it is now the Law (finally!) that all checked baggage be scanned for explosives. No ... because the airlines have two months to, and I quote, "increase" the number of bags that are scanned, and over 13 months to get to 100% scans. This snails-pace approach to a national security issue is nothing short of unbelievable and infuriating.

If there is one thing September 11th taught us, it is that the terrorists (henceforth referred to as jihad cowards) ... the jihad cowards ... were ... and still are ... at least one step ahead of us. I doubt they will ever try another September 11th-type hijacking since the likelihood of success is very low. But were they to try something ... and we've been told they are planning to ... they would go where the cracks in security and vigilance are. And one such major and very frightening crack is checked luggage and the fact that "maybe" 10% of checked luggage will be scanned for explosives tomorrow.

I heard an interview with a jihad coward the other day on TV. He was quoted as saying, "we can board several planes with liquid explosives they can't even detect and blow the planes out of the sky". In other words, they may not attempt mass hijackings again, but there's little to prevent one coward each on several separate planes checking a piece of luggage (remember ... these don't get scanned along with carry-ons) with an explosive and then igniting that from his cell phone whenever he feels the plane is over the target area. And if the jihad cowards can't find a "martyr" who will die with the plane, they probably have access to explosives that can be remotely detonated or detonated automatically at a certain altitude. The latter was the fate of Pan Am Flight 103.

What would I have the Government do? First of all, we MUST agree that nothing short of 100% scans is acceptable. Then we solve the problem. Can't get enough scanning machines installed and running quickly? ... no problem. Until they are ...

  1. Limit checked luggage to one piece per person until the machines are installed.
  2. Hire all those airline employees laid off in the last 60 days.
  3. Pay a consulting fee to the Israeli Government to produce a training video on how to open luggage and quickly look through it for explosives.
  4. Train all those laid off workers and have them hand check every bag.

Too complex? Fine ... this is even easier:

  1. Limit checked luggage to one piece per person until the machines are installed.
  2. Limit carry-ons (I think this is done now) to one, and one small briefcase or laptop bag.
  3. Have passengers take their one-piece-to-be-checked-and-stowed to the same scanning machines used for carry-on luggage.
  4. All the luggage is scanned there and then the "to-be-checked" luggage gets sidetracked to the cargo areas.

A little bit of brainstorming from the descendants of the folks that put people on the moon with computers not anywhere as complex as those in our cars, should be able to solve this and far greater problems.

Some bozos feel that hand checking every checked luggage is a violation of privacy! And looking at the contents of our carry-on bags through an X-ray scanner and running a metal detecting wand up our crotch is NOT an invasion of privacy? Please! Go ahead and violate my privacy! Look at my bag ... examine my boxer shorts ... whatever. If we're going to do security ... let's be thorough.

I still can't imagine how the September 11th jihad cowards got past that most strenuous of interviews. You know ... those two questions that make us all sweat and snap to attention: "Have you packed your own luggage? Has your luggage been with you at all times?" Must have taken months of mental discipline training to teach the cowards how to get past that very nerve racking interview.

What a joke. Those questions popped up around the time TWA Flight 800 was brought down. That disaster brought our bomb fears to the forefront and the best our Government could come up with at that point was those two questions. Wow. I hope this stuff gets into the history books.

I hope to God nothing happens. I hope to God I'm overreacting. But I think we should do something. I suggest we contact our Washington, D.C. Representatives and Senators and tell them we demand something be done now. You can get their contact info at http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW.html and http://www.senate.gov/senators/senator_by_state.cfm

Victor Trombettas

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