Full body scanners wouldn't have caught the underwear bomber

Why doesn’t the press or the blogosphere pick up on these sorts of things? (They report it, but forget it instantly.) The virtual strip search that people have been talking about would detect an unusual dense device, but can’t tell an explosive from a wallet. (I suppose if the underwear bomber had expected a full-body scan, he could have hidden the explosives in Depends.)

For that matter, we seem to have forgotten that you can do a lot more damage with box cutters than a bomb. What we need is not more security: we need more perspective. Terrorism, at its worst, kills fewer people than car accidents, murder, high blood pressure, lightning, or just about anything else that actually kills people every year.

I’m in agreement with Bruce Schneier on this one: the airport security worked, in that it forced the terrorists to use small, hard-to-detonate bombs– thereby making it likely that passengers will notice and defuse them. Without airport security, it would have been a standard-issue, tried-and-true suicide bomber vest. Which is to say, airport security stops the low-budget and the me-too attacks but will never be able to stop a cunning, highly organized attacker.


One thought on “Full body scanners wouldn't have caught the underwear bomber

  1. There’s some other interesting questions to ponder:

    1) Why does Al Qaeda persist in trying to blow up airplanes? Other equally-devastating targets are much softer these days: why haven’t they tried to attack an airport security line? Is it some sort of airplane fetish, or a calcified “it worked once” mentality?

    2) We’re finally starting to see some serious pushback on “enhanced” security. Have we reached the point where the traveling public simply won’t accept more inconvenience, or are we becoming sensitive to effective vs. ineffective security?

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