Our American neighbours got a booty call recently when a Nigerian terrorist attempted to blow up a plane and murder almost 300 passengers and crew with his home made underwear bomb.
Our American neighbours got a booty call recently when a Nigerian terrorist attempted to blow up a plane and murder almost 300 passengers and crew with his home made underwear bomb. It was only a lucky Fruit of the Loom malfunction that prevented an even greater disaster.
When this so-called “booty bomber” attempted to detonate his crotch bomb on Christmas Day, the world was changed forever.
We’ve heard that phrase often in the past decade all the way back to 9/11. This time the knee-jerk reaction was predictable and ineffective, but it is also invasive and humiliating for the travelling public.
Fortunately the bomber was subdued by the airline crew and passengers and the bomb failed to explode. But even so, government officials on both sides of the border are scrambling to respond to unknown future threats coming at unknown times and places.
The initial response by the Americans applies mainly to flights entering the United States, as well as some domestic routes.
The Canadian response is to wait until we see what the Americans do and then do the same thing or whatever else they ask.
It will take a while before all the new measures are in place but here’s the buzz so far.
Carry-on baggage will be severely restricted. During the last hour of the flight nobody will be allowed to leave their seat. During this period the use of electronic instruments will also be prohibited. I haven’t seen or heard anything about underwear restrictions.
The most controversial new measure, by far, is the use of full body scanners, which will allow somebody, somewhere, to check over your body to make sure it isn’t concealing a bomb. Look for these scanners very soon at an airport near you.
If you object to the use of X-ray glasses technology to view your privates, then you can choose to subject yourself to a security “pat-down,” whatever that is. Actually, it sounds kind of nice. Either way, your body and its naked image will be looked at or felt by security personnel.
These new scanners will be in American and Canadian airports almost overnight. Prime Minister Stephen Harper ordered his months ago, long before the west was attacked by underwear. Canadian government officials have the technology in hand. Don’t be surprised if they copycat the strict measures south of the border.
But this is where the story gets even more remarkable.
Many experts have publicly stated that these new security measures will do nothing to make air travel safer. It is generally accepted that the full body scanner would not have caught the underwear bomber.
We’ve all grown accustomed to government incompetence but do they have to be so obvious about it?
We are witnessing what has been called security theatre. Western governments feel they must respond in some way, if only to reassure the travelling public that they are taking some action.
For their part, the travelling public seems very eager to buy the charade. A surprising number of people are more than willing to submit to anything, no matter how invasive or humiliating as long as they can fly somewhere.
And so, the next time you’re sitting on a plane for hours with no food, no water, no communication and your legs are tightly crossed because you had a double-double earlier and you can’t use the washroom, ask yourself this question: “Do I feel safer?”
Many travelers can remember when flying used to be fun. Flying to any destination used to be a classy adventure with top notch service. Those days are long gone and may never return.
Now, before you board your flight you have to empty your pockets, your purse, your backpack, your carry-on and, if you’re smart, your bladder.
You have to take off your belt, your shoes, your hat, your coat and now, everything else right down to your underwear.
And one more thing – be prepared to leave your dignity and self-respect behind at the gate.
The underwear bomb didn’t blow up, but it did catch fire and the would-be bomber was left with serious burns. We now have the satisfaction of knowing that he has yet to suffer the ultimate indignity.
As this terrorist wends his way through the slow, convoluted American justice system, he will have a painful, burning, itching crotch as a constant reminder of his misadventure on Northwest Airlines. Look for the defendant to do a lot of squirming on the bench.