Sunday, January 06, 2008

"Prearing for the Last Attack," Part Whatever...

A number of times in the past, I have accused the bush administration, the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration, and/or FEMA of "preparing for the last attack," a phrase I swiped from security guru Bruce Schneier.

A recent blog post at the NY Times shows Schneier and I are not alone in this belief. Writing in Jet Lagged, commercial airline pilot Patrick Smith (who also writes Salon's "Ask the Pilot" column), makes the point that the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were successful not because the terrorists were able to smuggle weapons aboard commercial jets, but because the hijackers broke the existing paradigm of hijackings:

In years past, a takeover meant hostage negotiations and standoffs; crews were trained in the concept of “passive resistance.” All of that changed forever the instant American Airlines Flight 11 collided with the north tower. What weapons the 19 men possessed mattered little; the success of their plan relied fundamentally on the element of surprise. And in this respect, their scheme was all but guaranteed not to fail.

Smith continues:

For several reasons — particularly the awareness of passengers and crew — just the opposite is true today. Any hijacker would face a planeload of angry and frightened people ready to fight back. Say what you want of terrorists, they cannot afford to waste time and resources on schemes with a high probability of failure. And thus the September 11th template is all but useless to potential hijackers.

Yet it is this "template" to which DHS and TSA fanatically adhere.

Smith's piece -- which should be another must-read (Gawd, I'm finding a lot of those these days) -- is a thoughtful, detailed analysis of why our current airline security program is destined to fail.

1 comment:

  1. Like any form of security, the bad guys will always be one step ahead.