Terrorist Aliens and other Airport Security Nonsense.
Currently, we are hearing plenty of speculation surrounding the disappearance of the Malaysia Air 370 flight, including ridiculous Bermuda Triangle-type concepts involving aliens, but none quite as fevered in the popular press as the terrorist theory.
Whatever happened to 370 was certainly a tragedy, but to use the event as a means to further the fear agenda goes way beyond anything acceptable in the press.
It is almost as if the ever sensationalist, popular press is praying for another deadly attack against innocent air passengers in order to sex up their headlines. Because nothing sells newspapers quite as much as the image of a good old James Bond-style villain hidden away inside a secret mountain bunker, giving orders to unquestioning agents of terror from his leather swivel chair while stroking a fluffy cat.
The concept is every bit as preposterous now as it was with the invention of the Bin Laden story, and I think I speak for most reading this when I say we are all beginning to become a bit jaded by this over-the-top fantasy. This outlandish conspiracy theory just does not wash anymore! Let me explain why.
There are no terrorists!
Get over it!
“But how can you say that Sam? Of course there are terrorists!”
People like religiously clinging onto this concept, feeling comfort in the knowledge that bad guys exist, especially the easily identifiable, dark-skinned ones. They also like to think that we are somehow on the “heroes” side without ever having to do anything to demonstrate it. What better way to excuse our own inability to improve our lot!
And how embarrassingly little we have progressed!
500 years’ ago, when crops failed or disease struck a community, we dealt with it by burning witches. And if the same misfortune befell us the following year, it must have been because there were more witches out there that needed burning. Does this sound familiar yet? The over-zealous War on Terror is no different. Nothing rallies a community into sharpening their pitch forks like blaming an esoteric and furtive phantom threat that can never really be pinned down.
Most people seem not only prepared to accept much of today’s airport security overreach, but also they insist on its application. When TSA head John Pistole called for a lifting on the ban on pocket knives, there was public outrage, not because they had been conned by their government into believing a nonsensical threat to their safety, which Pistole clearly did not believe himself, but because they have little or no real idea about the functioning of an airport and how the only secured point is at the passenger entrance. I have worked at airports and seen how incredibly easy it is to simply stroll in through the back door.
At any airport, no matter how big or how heavily flagged it has been by government security agencies, the perimeter is enormous and almost impossible to police. Scores of companies with hundreds of employees have constant access with the mere swipe of a magnetically-banded card. In many cases, not even a card is necessary. I have observed these entrances and I bet you that you could just wear some kind of overalls, carry a clipboard and wear some kind of name badge, and no matter what airport you are at, be able to wander right up to a refueling 747 while hundreds of passengers are boarding. Trains are even easier targets and just as spectacular. But, it just doesn’t happen. Why not when the “Terrorist threat level” peaks so frequently into the red zone?
I have also worked in other places where the threat of terrorist acts is taken a whole lot more seriously. The attitude is noticeably different. The fact is that airport security know that trying to secure an airport is like kicking water uphill – it’s an enormous effort with no results at the end of it. But those places that have had credible threats posed against them, seem to manage security with more than just the theatrics we see when trying boarding a flight.
So, why don’t these terrorists do just that? Why don’t they attack planes and trains everyday? It doesn’t take a genius to work it out how easy it is, just someone with a few hours to plan and prepare. I’m left with just one explanation: no one really wants to do it! Or, in other words, today there are no terrorists!
“What about 9/11? What about Madrid 3/11? What about London 7/7?” I hear you cry. The evidence in each of those cases has always been questionable. It’s not that there was not enough security in place on those awful days, all the familiar security measures were there, but switched off. Ask yourself where the CCTV footage is showing the terrorists boarding the trains and planes? We are told that the thousands cameras installed at a cost of millions were coincidentally not working precisely at those moments. So, if the very basics of security were not being used then, how will further layers and technology improve security in the future?
But the press, airports and governments continue to scream “terrorist” as soon as anything goes wrong with air travel. Why? Who benefits? If would-be terrorists have no statement to make by attacking public transport, why do we continue with ridiculous levels of airport security?
Airports are under increasing pressure from competition and their margins are tightening. Replacing security staff with body scanners is one way they can help reduce short-term costs. But you are not interested in their profit margins, are you? So, out comes the “terror” card once again as they tell you it is for your “safety”.
. . .
It is time to rethink security, especially anti-terrorist measures.
Now that the shock and awe sensationalism of the pre-Iraq war attacks has died down, it is high time rationality re-entered the public conscience. We all need to reevaluate what safety is and how we want to achieve it. If nothing else, the terrorist attacks of the last decade should have taught us that we cannot rely on just our governments and some guys in cheap blue uniforms to do the job. Surely, it must be time to start from scratch and reassess what the real threats are to us and our families, put a little perspective on the topic and work together to resolve whatever situation might exist. Government does not include you in that process. On the contrary, the War on Terror has been entirely exclusive of us. Which is partly why crying wolf every time something goes wrong with a flight, is no longer believable.