A 23 year-old Nigerian man attempted to blow up a Northwest airliner over Detroit Christmas day. We all know that. But do we know what is to be done? The usual suggestions about improving the no-fly list, expanding the terrorist watch list, and installing more full-body scanners have been heard. These are intelligent measures but have their limits.
The New York Times reports the Amsterdam airport has 13 full-body scanners, about as many as any airport in the world. The scanner wasn't used on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who may have looked like many passengers but was profoundly different in one respect. He was willing to give up his life to bring down an airliner. Now he is likely to spend most of his life in a maximum-security cell.
Transportation Security Administration security measures are irksome. Alaskans know that because they fly more than most Americans. They also know these measures are going to become more irksome as security intensifies.
The success rate for terrorism prevention has to be 100 percent or people die. And the terrorists are not going to stop plotting, stop recruiting young adults. It may be that international aviation, in order to guarantee 100 percent security, will become akin to prisoner transportation, without the shackles: You are not free to move about the cabin. If you boarded with an attitude, stow it. And don't argue with a cabin attendant.
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