~ 20 October 2003 ~

The Box Cutter Boy

John Derbyshire has a pretty good idea about the guy who smuggled bags of box cutters onto two Southwest Airlines planes:

I think the guy performed a valuable public service. In fact, in the spirit of Inspector Clouseau encouraging his valet to ambush him, by way of keeping him alert, I’d like to propose a system of federal rewards to be given to anyone successfully smuggling dangerous objects through airport security. (To avoid nasty accidents, you would only be eligible for one of the rewards if you declared your contraband at the departure gate, just before boarding the plane.) It could be one on a sliding scale: $1,000 for a box cutter, $10,000 for a shoe bomb, $100,000 for a live hand grenade, $1,000,000 for a nuclear weapon… That sort of thing.

The guy does deserve some justice for scaring everyone, but he also exposes a gaping hole. This story kind of reminds me of the story of Mathias Rust, who landed his Cessna in Red Square in May 1987. The Soviets were so embarrassed that besides “rewarding” Rust with some prison time, they fired about 2,000 officers.

I think that the many of the security procedures we face today would be laughed at by any terrorist seriously want to do some harm. I even had my Leatherman Micra confiscated at a sporting event—now that’s a real weapon! (I wonder why Al-Qaeda isn’t armed with those…) The more effective security measures are being taken on the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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