On Christmas Day, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab — who is believed to be linked to al Qaeda — attempted to ignite an explosive device made of pentaerythritol on a plane as it neared Detroit, and promptly had his ass kicked for him by fellow passengers. Hooray! Christmas was saved! But that’s not going to stop the grinches at the US Transporation Authority from making your holiday traveling a paranoid nightmare: they have just issued revised travel restrictions for all flights coming into the United States, and those restrictions mean some pretty profound inconveniences for gadget lovers.
According to the official TSA Security Directive, all passengers must now be subjected to a thorough pat-down before they board the plane. All planes must have their passenger communications systems disabled through the flight, which includes phone, GPS and internet services. Finally, starting in the last hour of the flight, passengers are not only not allowed to leave their seats… they aren’t allowed to have any personal items on their laps or in front of them. That means no iPods, no iPhones, no MacBooks… not even a book. Swell.
As usual, then, what we are looking at is totally ineffective retrograde security measures that only make traveling more inconvenient and frightening for innocent travelers, while terrorists will continue to get around them. What’s most ironic is the old security measures — if they’d been successfully implemented — would already have stopped Abdulmutallab at the gate. That means that even the new security measures wouldn’t have stopped him, because the failure was one of implementation. And Abdulmutallab didn’t even have an iPod.