Archive - Jul 2007

Heaving On A Jet Plane

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I'll be flying tomorrow, and for the record I feel perfectly safe from a terrorist attack. No islamofascist members of the great jihadi menace will commandeer my plane. Nobody will sneak an explosive on board. And none of this will have anything to do with the elevated "Orange" terror alert or the efforts of the TSA.

Now, I'm not saying that the individual person who will be rifling through my bags and making sure my laptop is a laptop is an incompetent flunky with nary a clue about what he or she is doing. I'm just saying they represent an incompetent flunky ORGANIZATION with nary a clue about what they are doing.

We all know this, of course, but any hopes that they'd somehow improved over the past year or two was dashed last week. If you watch cable news, you may have heard about a number of terrorist "dry runs", in which pipes, ice-packs filled with a "clay-like substance", and blocks of cheese masquerading as plastic explosive were sent through security. The idea is they take these test flights to see what they can sneak past the ever-vigilant United States Government.

Like all terrorism news, nobody took it at face value. Certain individuals of certain persuasions trumpeted the news far and wide, presenting it as further evidence that the Great Swarthy Horde were holding those wavy dagger thingies to the throats of all our children, and further, that this was proof that we must keep fighting them over there so that we can avoid getting ambushed by their cheese over here.

Other people, of other persuasions, were skeptical, due to dozens upon dozens of other stories where we were told about an imminent threat to all and sundry, only to find out weeks later that it was a crazy guy in a warehouse or a Mooninite sign.

You will, I presume, not be shocked to find out which persuasion was the correct one. Take, for example, the ice pack, which, in initial reports, was packed with a clay-like substance and wrapped in duct tape. It turns OUT they were wrapped in package tape. Package tape is clear. Duct tape is not. And I cannot help but feel that if, in their hiring process, the TSA is not screening out employees who can't tell the difference between TRANSPARENT AND OPAQUE, there is something seriously fucking wrong with their HR department.

The ice packs, by the way, were wrapped in sealing tape because they were leaky. And the clay-like substance? It was whatever that alien spooge they fill ice packs with is, post-leak, and dried out. Now, I'll cut them a little slack on this one, because the only way to determine it wasn't some kind of explosive was to make a logical connection between ice packs, tape, and dried stuff around the edges of it.

There were three other incidents, all described as potential "dry runs", all distributed nationwide in a TSA security alert, and none of them proved to actually be dry runs, related to terrorism, or malicious in any way. Yet the whole thing is being defended on the following astonishing grounds. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Airport security officers must be trained in identifying suspicious packages, even when those packages turn out to be innocuous." - from a CNN report.

Or maybe, just maybe, you could train the airport security officials to identify the packages that WON'T turn out to be innocuous. Or at the very least, teach them the difference between packing tape and duct tape.