It’s frightening how close another terrorist came to wreaking havoc with an airliner.
In the aftermath, it’s frightening how quick officials were to impose additional security precautions that will do next to nothing to make things safer.
It was dumb luck that everyone aboard the trans-Atlantic flight wasn’t killed — dumb in that the alleged bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab apparently didn’t construct his bomb properly and luck in that the Swiss-cheese security measures haven’t allowed a smart rat to slip through.
But we can rest easy because the Transportation Security Administration assures us it is on the job.
The TSA quickly announced that during the last hour of a flight passengers will not be allowed to leave their seats — even though Abdulmutallab was in his seat when he tried to detonate the explosives. Passengers won’t be allowed into overhead bins — even though Abdulmutallab apparently had the explosives under his clothes. Passengers can’t have books, laptops or other items in their laps during the last hour of the flight — even though Abdulmutallab didn’t attack anyone with a book or a computer.
Don’t you feel so much safer?
This is the same type of posturing that took place after 9/11 in which suddenly fingernail clippers were seen as deadly weapons.
If the TSA and the Obama administration really want to take steps to make flying safer — understanding that there will never be a way to be 100 percent safe — they need to get tough in the right ways.
First, there needs to be more vigorous screening to make sure those with terrorist leanings aren’t allowed on planes without the most thorough examination.
There have been conflicting reports on whether Abdulmutallab was on a TSA watch list. If he wasn’t, why not? His father had alerted the State Department about his son’s shady dealings.
This doesn’t mean there should be racial profiling or that people should be prohibited from flying just because someone thinks they might possibly have anti-American sympathies. But we shouldn’t turn a blind eye when a person’s activities raise red flags.
The technology and methods exist to make it nearly impossible — again we acknowledge that nothing is ever absolute — to smuggle bombs or weapons onboard an airplane.
So why aren’t they used consistently? Money, for one thing.
These high-tech scanners and chemical tests aren’t cheap. If we weren’t spending countless billions of dollars (and endangering U.S. troops) fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there would be enough money to equip every airport with these anti-terrorist devices. Instead, we risk the lives of American civilians and impose silly rules on airline passengers.
It’s time for the government to get its head out of the clouds and do something that would actually make people safer. And dump some of these new regulations into the trash bins along with the fingernail clippers.