Stop Responding to Terrorism with More Security Theater

Over Christmas we were following the story of the loon who attempted to set off some kind of incendiary device on an airplane. Today, this:

According to a statement posted Saturday morning on Air Canada’s Web site, the Transportation Security Administration will severely limit the behavior of both passengers and crew during flights in United States airspace — restricting movement in the final hour of flight. Late Saturday morning, the T.S.A. had not yet included this new information on its own Web site.

“Among other things,” the statement in Air Canada’s Web site read, “during the final hour of flight customers must remain seated, will not be allowed to access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps.”

This is a profoundly stupid rule, even dumber than the rule that prevents passengers from carrying an unlimited number of three ounce containers of liquid aboard airplanes. The rule is not intended to protect passengers; it’s intended to protect politicians, to inoculate them from criticism the next time a bad terrorism incident occurs in the future. There are rules in place to prevent this kind of thing, right?

But it’s utterly absurd to think that these airport security rules will never prevent a single act of terrorism. (What’s to prevent the bad guy from doing his thing one hour and one minute before the plane lands?) What these rules will do, though, is to eternally memorialize every half-cocked would-be terrorist who manages to stick something flammable into his shoe or into his pants. And that is precisely the terrorists’ objective.

via Restrictions Rise After Terrorism Attempt – NYTimes.com.

Update: My favorite gadget blog, Gizmodo, has been doing a lot of good blogging on airline security mindlessness. They have their own post on this topic.