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Bruce Schneier On Airport Security

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the he-should-know dept.

Transportation 582

the4thdimension writes "Bruce Schneier has an opinion piece on CNN this morning that illustrates his view on airport security. Given that he has several books on security, his opinion carries some weight. In the article, Bruce discusses the rarity of terrorism, the pitfalls of security theater, and the actual difficulty surrounding improving security. What are your thoughts? Do you think that we can actually make air travel (and any other kind of travel, for that matter) truly secure?"

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no (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584356)

no

Re:no (1)

jra (5600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584860)

Glad to hear it. :-)

I was hoping *someone* would pick Bruce up on this; I'm well pleased it's CNN.

the4thdimension must idolize (-1, Offtopic)

gregarican (694358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584358)

Captain James Tiberius Kirk, due to, all of the, commas inserted, into his summary, perhaps to add dramatic, effect. A little tough, to read, but who am I to be, a grammar, Nazi. :-)~

Uh No (3, Interesting)

spribyl (175893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584376)

Terrorists are like fools, they will always build a better one.
How about we treat the problem instead of the symptom. Give them something to loose or care about. When you have nothing you have nothing to loose.

Re:Uh No (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584416)

We do all of these stupid things to pretend to have security that even the most brain-dead terrorist could work around.

Can't bring liquids on board? Sure, but you can bring freeze-dried watermelon that you've reconstituted with a liquid of your choice onboard. Any sort of saturated porous or fibrous solid is fine. You can bring any sort of solid hydrate with you, too. Heck, on my way back from Christmas, I realized that I had reusable heat packs in my pockets, and that those were liquid. To keep them? I simply activated them so that they crystalized (releasing heat). Bam -- they're no longer liquids. But they're the exact same stuff.

Can't bring knives on board? Heck, I had a freaking dull garden spade confiscated from me, as though I was going to hijack a plane with a dull spade. But you can sure as heck bring a glass or ceramic plate or other such object and break it into long, heavy, surgically-sharp shards in a cloth towel. You can also bring any sort of electronics or other devices with you whose internal frame components are made of long, sharp pieces of metal. Even if you personally sharpened them.

Do they think terrorists are retarded? Do they think that they can't figure this sort of stuff out? No, they'd rather just put on this "Security Theatre" and inconvenience millions upon millions of travelers for no damned reason.

If they actually cared about security, it would be obvious: the approach to dealing with threats would be proactive, not reactive. It wouldn't be a case of, "someone tried to blow up a plane with shoes? Everyone has to take their shoes off". Taking shoes off would come before someone tried it. Same with liquids and all of these other ridiculous regulations. They're just trying to pretend that they're on top of it, when what they're doing isn't helping anyone. It's just making flying a pain in the arse.

One of these days, when I have enough time before a plane flight, I'm going to follow the letter of the rules while showing off (in a non-threatening manner) how easily they can be worked around: by attempting to cook a full four-course meal onboard a plane during the flight from my coach seat ;) Electric or allowed-chemical heat (no flames), minimal cook times, liquids pre-stored in dehydrated food or reconstituted from powders and water-fountain water past the security checkpoint, etc.

Re:Uh No (5, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584558)

If they actually cared about security, it would be obvious: the approach to dealing with threats would be proactive, not reactive. It wouldn't be a case of, "someone tried to blow up a plane with shoes? Everyone has to take their shoes off". Taking shoes off would come before someone tried it. Same with liquids and all of these other ridiculous regulations. They're just trying to pretend that they're on top of it, when what they're doing isn't helping anyone. It's just making flying a pain in the arse.

I think you missed Schneier's point, if you RTFA.

The approach to dealing with threats should be intelligence gathering, our criminal justice system, and resilience in response to successful attacks.

A proactive approach that you suggest would require listing possible attack vectors, then taking action to prevent each of them. Carried to its logical conclusion, we'd all have to board planes naked (you could strangle someone with the elastic band from your underwear!), or even restrained (hands are weapons too!) in order to prevent terrorist actions on planes.

It's simply unreasonable to take that kind of preventative action.

In truth, (and one of Schneier's points), we cannot realistically defend against all attack vectors. To try to do so is pointless, except that it gives people a feeling of security. True defense against terrorism isn't served by reactive restrictions, nor by proactive restrictions -- unless they absolutely limit our ability to conduct regular tasks.

You're right, though, what they're doing isn't helping and is a royal pain in the ass. But the solution is not to become proactive in travel restrictions. It's most of what Schneier wrote in the piece.

Re:Uh No (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584650)

There is nothing wrong with listing possible attack vectors -- that should be the goal. Each should be weighed in terms of order of likelyhood, and any that are justified to merit preventive action should be handled.

Now, the author is arguing that that bar on what merits action should be low. I agree. But if it's going to be high, as it currently is, it should not simply be based on "what they did last time".

Re:Uh No (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584818)

There is nothing wrong with listing possible attack vectors -- that should be the goal. Each should be weighed in terms of order of likelyhood, and any that are justified to merit preventive action should be handled.

Except, as soon as you put measures in place to prevent one vector, the other vectors have an increased likelihood, because terrorists are not necessarily stupid. If YOU know you can;t bring liquids on planes, THEY know it too. So then they use a different vector. It's like a game of whack-a-mole... defend all holes or they'll come through the one you didn't defend.

Now, the author is arguing that that bar on what merits action should be low. I agree. But if it's going to be high, as it currently is, it should not simply be based on "what they did last time".

That's not what Schneier is arguing at all, please go back and actually RTFA. I'm not sure how you can so completely misread what he wrote. Schneier is arguing that it's useless to defend specific attack vectors on specific targets (like airplanes), since the very specificity of the defense precludes the use of that vector by terrorists.

Re:Uh No (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30585000)

Except, as soon as you put measures in place to prevent one vector, the other vectors have an increased likelihood, because terrorists are not necessarily stupid.

That argument is fallacious. It argues for no action against any type of threat whatsoever in any circumstance in any field of discussion. Forcing people off easy vectors onto harder vectors is not an illogical course of action. What matters is that the vectors are properly prioritized and the bar on what to defend against set appropriately. We're currently not doing this; the telltale sign of that would be that security would be proactive rather than reactive. And once again, I argue for a lower bar on what we defend against, not a higher one.

That's not what Schneier is arguing at all, please go back and actually RTFA

I did RTFA, and I recommend you do the same. He opposes targeting very specific "movie plot threats", but supports broadly-applicable investigative resources. Not once does he argue against prioritizing threats (he even does so himself, talking about how some circumstances are more dangerous than others). He simply sets a very low bar, only supporting actions that cover a wide range of possible threats.

Re:Uh No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584806)

We can't defend against all vectors, but there are some minor changes that would have significant impact. Other than bringing a machine gun on a plane, we know that the passengers will defeat all hijacking threats. So the only significant threat is explosives. Instead of searching people for every liquid and pocketknife and nailclipper they have, we simply need dogs and puffer machines. Either of these would have detected PETN and wouldn't have involved security theater.

Re:Uh No (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30585032)

Other than bringing a machine gun on a plane, we know that the passengers will defeat all hijacking threats.

With a walled-off cockpit, hijacking isn't a threat anyway -- as long as the hijackers do not have the ability to surpass the cockpit doors. A gun doesn't help the hijackers much, unless their goal is just to kill people in a high-profile manner (in which case, bringing that gun elsewhere could be nearly as effective, but with a much higher chance of success).

So, as you point out, explosives are the real threat. But it's impossible to fool dogs and/or a puffer machine. You'd just need to properly seal and decontaminate the explosive package, so physical search is still necessary if you want to prevent explosive attacks.

Never mind the fact the puffer machines and dogs would contribute to the security theater.

Re:Uh No (2, Funny)

Compuser (14899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584816)

We should not travel naked. The main attack vector is always due to some activity (implements can always be found if some activity is permitted). Rather, people should be led into a waiting hall and put under with a sleeping gas, then loaded into explosion proof containers and loaded onto cargo planes for delivery.

Re:Uh No (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584858)

We should not travel naked. The main attack vector is always due to some activity (implements can always be found if some activity is permitted). Rather, people should be led into a waiting hall and put under with a sleeping gas, then loaded into explosion proof containers and loaded onto cargo planes for delivery.

That's just overkill, and environmentally irresponsible -- just think of the fuel required to lift those blast chambers to cruising altitude!

Straightjackets and leg restraints would work just fine, while maintaining a sense of modesty. Plus, with no ability to move around, passengers need less space -- so it would be more profitable for the airlines. As long as each passenger is fitted with a breathing tube, you could stack them four or five deep in coach class, maybe just two or three deep in business class.

Re:Uh No (1)

calzones (890942) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584902)

brilliant!

Re:Uh No (2, Funny)

jra (5600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584962)

I especially liked the comment on Bruce's blog where someone notes that they don't mind having to fly wearing only a hospital johnny as long as they get the seat next to the cute redhead.

Re:Uh No (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584980)

Rather, people should be led into a waiting hall and put under with a sleeping gas, then loaded into explosion proof containers and loaded onto cargo planes for delivery

That's just about the only way I would fly at all, with or without the TSA. Flying is fucking hell.

Re:Uh No (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584990)

we'd all have to board planes naked ... or even restrained

Ah, sorry, don't think that will get you far. Most people can probably carry an amount of explosives rectally, and I wouldn't put it outside the realm of possibility that they could learn to trigger it with sphincter muscles. Better sedate them and flood them with muscle relaxants... which, of course, could work as a dead (relaxed) man's switch for a trigger as well.

except that it gives people a feeling of security.

Sometimes it's hard to tell the feeling of 'security' apart from the feeling of an ass-probe.

Personally I've quit travelling by air since a long time ago. Not because I care about the infinitesimal change of getting blown up by some terrorist ass (which is less than dying in a freak bathtub accident), but because security has made a not entirely pleasant experience utterly intolerable.

So I certainly agree with Schneier. Junk the whole worthless security apparatus and live with the fact that shit very, very, very rarely and unavoidably does happen. Generate enough incentive for blow-back and you'll get it. But even the most spectacular show any terrorist can accomplish is simply dwarfed by the sheer inertia of civilized society. Without society handing them the leverage, they can't accomplish anything large enough to be more than noise in the sea of random death and destruction that happens all around us every day. Deal with them like any other such happening; police and emergency services. And, perhaps, require agencies and corporations engaging in operations that tend to generate very angry people to set aside a certain amount of budget to pay the eventual victims of the blow-back.

Re:Uh No (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584574)

Do they think terrorists are retarded? Do they think that they can't figure this sort of stuff out? No, they'd rather just put on this "Security Theatre" and inconvenience millions upon millions of travelers for no damned reason.

On the contrary, lots of people working for the TSA and DHS have made tons of money off this scheme.

One of these days, when I have enough time before a plane flight, I'm going to follow the letter of the rules while showing off (in a non-threatening manner) how easily they can be worked around: by attempting to cook a full four-course meal onboard a plane during the flight from my coach seat ;) Electric or allowed-chemical heat (no flames), minimal cook times, liquids pre-stored in dehydrated food or reconstituted from powders and water-fountain water past the security checkpoint, etc.

Just make sure there are no Dutchmen on the plane with you :)

Re:Uh No (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584602)

One of these days, when I have enough time before a plane flight, I'm going to follow the letter of the rules while showing off how easily they can be worked around

In your case, "enough time before a plane flight" would be in the neighbourhood of five to ten years. Good luck with that, though, and enjoy your vacation in Cuba.

Re:Uh No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584614)

Do they think terrorists are retarded?

Actually, they know for a fact that some terrorists are retarded, as does anybody who has paid attention to the news ;-)

Re:Uh No (5, Insightful)

nodwick (716348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584750)

One of these days, when I have enough time before a plane flight, I'm going to follow the letter of the rules while showing off (in a non-threatening manner) how easily they can be worked around

You don't even have to work around the list of things you can't carry on board; items on the list get missed all the time. Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic had an article from last year [theatlantic.com] detailing all the things he's managed to sneak onto planes, including pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, bottles of Fiji Water, and box cutters. He's even brought two cans' worth of beer through security by wearing a Beerbelly [thebeerbelly.com] under his clothes and walking it through the metal detector. And this in spite of the fact that he was selected for secondary inspection at the time he was wearing it.

He's also tried forging and printing out his own boarding pass (with help from Bruce Schneier) and getting through security with it, with similar results:

I would try to pass through security with no ID, a fake boarding pass, and an Osama bin Laden T-shirt under my coat. I splashed water on my face to mimic sweat, put on a coat (it was a summer day), hid my driver's license, and approached security with a bogus boarding pass that Schneier had made for me. I told the document checker at security that I had lost my identification but was hoping I would still be able to make my flight. He said I'd have to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor arrived; he looked smart, unfortunately. I was starting to get genuinely nervous, which I hoped would generate incriminating micro-expressions. "I can't find my driver's license," I said. I showed him my fake boarding pass. "I need to get to Washington quickly," I added. He asked me if I had any other identification. I showed him a credit card with my name on it, a library card, and a health-insurance card. "Nothing else?" he asked.

"No," I said.

"You should really travel with a second picture ID, you know."

"Yes, sir," I said.

"All right, you can go," he said, pointing me to the X-ray line. "But let this be a lesson for you."

Re:Uh No (1)

jra (5600) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584978)

Yup, it's a lesson: they're profiling... in reverse.

Re:Uh No (1)

runyonave (1482739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584868)

Breaking News: Terrorist hijacks plane using only cooking utilities - Passengers relieved the terrorists was apprehended. When interviewed, one passenger stated, "I am glad he was caught, I don't know what he would have done, but it probably wouldn't have been as bad as his cooking".

Re:Uh No (2, Interesting)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584496)

I disagree. And Napolitano's "It's working" would be right if the "It's" she's referring to is the traveling public. Tim Lister put it better than I've ever heard. He said "The problem is that there was a fundamental flaw in our thinking. On September 10th, 2001, we assumed that everyone who got on an airplane, wanted to get off alive. Now we know better."

Re:Uh No (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584690)

On September 10, 2001, the intelligence agencies knew that Osama bin Laden's men were in the country, that they were going to participate in a major attack, and that they were planning to use airplanes in the attack. The people who could have done something about it were not assuming that everyone who got on an airplane wanted to get off of it alive; after decades of dealing with suicide bombers in the middle east, why would anyone assume that bin Laden's men were hoping to survive their own attack?

The only difference between then and now is that these days, the government pretends to be working to keep us safe, and the people expect that fantasy to be maintained for them. People who remain calm and think for a few moments see right through most of it, but most of the population does not bother to think and just go on assuming that when their government says "this will keep you safe" it will really keep them safe.

Re:Uh No (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584936)

On September 10, 2001, the intelligence agencies knew that Osama bin Laden's men were in the country,

[citation needed]

Re:Uh No (0, Troll)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584946)

On September 10, 2001, the intelligence agencies knew that Osama bin Laden's men were in the country, that they were going to participate in a major attack, and that they were planning to use airplanes in the attack. The people who could have done something about it were not assuming that everyone who got on an airplane wanted to get off of it alive; after decades of dealing with suicide bombers in the middle east, why would anyone assume that bin Laden's men were hoping to survive their own attack?

On the contrary... airplane hijackings, to that date, were primarily used as a negotiating tool.

My guess? The planes were hijacked, demands were made, and the hijackers were told to go to hell (I don't think GWB would have EVER negotiated with terrorists). So the hijackers did what they were told, and took thousands with them. Now, I'm no truther, but I also believe that a decision was made* to not shoot down the planes, and that the potential for the planes to hit the WTC (or other structure)and collapse it was either disregarded, discounted, or overlooked.

*Also possible that the decision was made via inaction, i.e., not escalating to the right people in time. But I believe it was a conscious decision at a high level.

Re:Uh No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584512)

When you have nothing you have nothing to loose.

So what does this mean? If you have nothing you run around naked?

Re:Uh No (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584552)

I can tell you care because you've got a screw too "loose".

Luckily, the best suicide bombers don't reproduce (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584560)

After a few generations, they will be defeated by mean words and harsh glances.

Re:Luckily, the best suicide bombers don't reprodu (1)

aaandre (526056) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584740)

For some insight on suicide bomber culture, see Syriana. Extensive training and brainwashing for months. Similar to Army training... very methodical and efficient. Another similarity, the suicide bombers are the poor and desperate of their own country, their innocence and faith taken advantage of by people with their own agenda and ulterior motives.

Re:Uh No (1)

nodwick (716348) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584568)

When you have nothing you have nothing to loose.

Except your extra vowels?

Re:Uh No (4, Insightful)

greenbird (859670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584810)

When you have nothing you have nothing to loose.

Ummm...especially given where he was from, the crotch bomber had pretty much everything.

Eh, right (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584852)

Have you followed the latest terrorist attempt? The guy comes from a rich family and was given the chance to study in the west with every western luxury and with every western freedom.

And yet, he did become a terrorist.

So what more do you want to give him?

And Osama? Member of one of the richest families in the world.

Let go of your racists ideas that everyone not living in the west is piss poor.

No starving child has ever committed a terrorist attack, they are to busy dying.

Check the red army brigade (german terrorist group) plenty of them coming from well to do families.

Check the US terrorists who blow up abortion clinics, lynched blacks or the guy that did Oklahoma. Is there a single piss-poor individual among them?

Re:Uh No (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584856)

Then how do you explain all the terrorists that come from wealthy affluent families and are well educated? This is not a "Well i don't have anything so I might as well go blow a bunch of people up" problem we're fighting. If that was the heart of the matter you'd see a lot more home grown American Terrorists from the Appalachian Mountains. It's an influential and drawing (distorted) religious ideology that causes people to do this. Usually due to spending time with friends of like mindedness and then radicalizing in a sort of feedback loop until they reach the point where they decide they want to act and they all think it's a good idea. These are not dumb people. We've been fighting this war for 8 years, most of the dumb ones are dead.

Nope (3, Insightful)

inviolet (797804) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584380)

Do you think that we can actually make air travel (and any other kind of travel, for that matter) truly secure?"

Nope. "Truly secure" means defended infinitely well from all risks, which implies infinite cost. The minority of us adults who are mentally adult understand that everything is a cost/benefit tradeoff and nothing justifies the effort to render it "truly secure".

To be sure, an individual's own life is worth very very much to him, and he is free to spend his money on protection, but that's not the context of this discussion. The context of this discussion is how much wealth should the tribe expend protecting its assets (including its members, none of whom are infinitely valuable).

Re:Nope (1)

weicco (645927) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584478)

Let's give every passenger combat shotgun where they enter the plane. Let's also give them permission to shoot everyone they think is a terrorist trying to blow up the plane. That way we'll be all safe in heaven.

If you get my meaning.

Re:Nope (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584722)

Instead of your dumb idea, lets give every passenger a 15" long, 1" diameter oak dowel. No one passenger (or 10) will be a credible threat compared to the entire rest of the plane full of folks ready to beat an exposed terrorist into a thin red paste. Bombs are still a problem, but this is an area where increased technology spending actually makes some sense.

Re:Nope (5, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584528)

The odds of airborne terror are so low it's ridiculous that we focus on it as much as we do. Here's an excellent post [fivethirtyeight.com] on the subject:

----------

Not going to do any editorializing here; just going to do some non-fancy math. James Joyner asks:

"There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft. All of them clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers. How many tens of thousands of flights have been incident free?"

Let's expand Joyner's scope out to the past decade. Over the past decade, there have been, by my count, six attempted terrorist incidents on board a commercial airliner than landed in or departed from the United States: the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11, the shoe bomber incident in December 2001, and the NWA flight 253 incident on Christmas.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics provides a wealth of statistical information on air traffic. For this exercise, I will look at both domestic flights within the US, and international flights whose origin or destination was within the United States. I will not look at flights that transported cargo and crew only. I will look at flights spanning the decade from October 1999 through September 2009 inclusive (the BTS does not yet have data available for the past couple of months).

Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.

These departures flew a collective 69,415,786,000 miles. That means there has been one terrorist incident per 11,569,297,667 miles flown. This distance is equivalent to 1,459,664 trips around the diameter of the Earth, 24,218 round trips to the Moon, or two round trips to Neptune.

Assuming an average airborne speed of 425 miles per hour, these airplanes were aloft for a total of 163,331,261 hours. Therefore, there has been one terrorist incident per 27,221,877 hours airborne. This can also be expressed as one incident per 1,134,245 days airborne, or one incident per 3,105 years airborne.

There were a total of 674 passengers, not counting crew or the terrorists themselves, on the flights on which these incidents occurred. By contrast, there have been 7,015,630,000 passenger enplanements over the past decade. Therefore, the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.

Again, no editorializing (for now). These are just the numbers.

That's just part of it. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584686)

Now look at how many people die every year from other causes.

If you are in the USofA, you are more likely to be killed by someone in your own family than by a terrorist.

But that is the problem.

Because terrorism is so rare, when it happens it is covered in the newspapers, on TV, on the radio, etc. Repeatedly. For weeks.

Re:That's just part of it. (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584942)

good call. Lets commit constant acts of terror until the US population becomes numb to it. Once the apathy towards airplane bombing sets in, we will be free to travel in peace!

I think my math may be off a bit here.

Re:Nope (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584846)

Again, no editorializing (for now). These are just the numbers.

Numbers are editorials in and of themselves. Speaking volumes where opinions would just add noise.

Now if we could only use this approach when dealing with other emotional issues, like every other "crisis" out there. Drugs, Poverty, Healthcare

Re:Nope (1)

greenbird (859670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584926)

The odds of airborne terror are so low it's ridiculous that we focus on it as much as we do.

Whats even more amazing is the complete lack of concern that ten of thousands (in the US alone) are killed and hundred of thousands injured and maimed on the roads every day. What is it about people that they have absolutely no concern for something that's fairly likely to injure or kill them while something that is only an extremely remote possibility causes them to freak out in fear.

The only way to fly safe! (2, Interesting)

spammeister (586331) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584390)

Is to either remove all people from flights, or somehow put them all into a coma for the duration of the flight.

Re:The only way to fly safe! (4, Funny)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584480)

somehow put them all into a coma for the duration of the flight.

DON'T GIVE THEM IDEAS!

Re:The only way to fly safe! (2, Funny)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584668)

somehow put them all into a coma for the duration of the flight.

DON'T GIVE THEM IDEAS!

Have you seen the movies they show on flights nowadays? If they aren't aiming for "comatose", they're at least hoping that the stomach pains will keep us from doing anything unexpected.

Re:The only way to fly safe! (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584894)

DON'T GIVE THEM IDEAS!

Unless they are using tequila to induce this coma, then I'm all for it. "I'm sorry sir this is a 10 drink minimum flight."

Re:The only way to fly safe! (1)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30585020)

Hey if they can figure that one out sign me up -- I hate sitting in those cramped seats listening to the little kids crying behind me -- if they could knock me out for the duration of the flight and wake me up on the other end without any problems I'd be all over it.

Re:The only way to fly safe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584484)

exactly, 5th element style !

Re:The only way to fly safe! (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584914)

Will we have Milla Jovovich waiting for us when we wake up?

Re:The only way to fly safe! (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584972)

Don't feel bad when you wake up and not find her next to you. She was gone before Corbin Dallas woke up also.

Still not safe! Re:The only way to fly safe! (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584848)

Is to either remove all people from flights, or somehow put them all into a coma for the duration of the flight.

Actually, the plane could still crash due to mechanical failure, pilot stupidity (including other pilots not looking where they're going), unexpected bad weather, or collision with large birds.

Nope... not even that... (1)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584880)

Stowaways, hidden explosives on board, sabotage, anti-aircraft systems, use of military aircraft to attack civilian ones...

The Terrorists are Winning (0)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584396)

I have another discussion on this very topic going here: The Terrorists Are Winning [the-brights.net] . Please steal anything from it for this discussion, because in the end I just want to see the situation fixed.

Re:The Terrorists are Winning (-1, Offtopic)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584520)

The only Terrorists we have are CIA/MI6/Mossad funded!

Detriot Flight "attack" - INSIDE JOB!!!! This was a FALSE FLAG!

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport (MLive.com exclusive)
http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2009/12/flight_253_passenger_says_at_l.html [mlive.com]

BOMBSHELL: Evidence Clearly Indicates Staged Attack on Detroit Flight
http://www.infowars.com/bombshell-evidence-clearly-indicates-staged-attack-on-detroit-flight/ [infowars.com]

Man Videotaped Underwear Bomber On Flight 253
http://www.infowars.com/man-videotaped-underwear-bomber-on-flight-253/ [infowars.com]

Bomber Had No Passport, Helped To Board Plane By Sharp-Dressed Man
http://www.prisonplanet.com/bomber-had-no-passport-helped-to-board-plane-by-sharp-dressed-man.html [prisonplanet.com]

Re:The Terrorists are Winning (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584604)

Is entirely possible considering the origin in the world of the flight, but you must keep in mind that information sources must be vetted: critical thinking skills are necessary without having the complete picture.

Re:The Terrorists are Winning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584940)

If you want to make yourself look batshit insane, linking to Alex Jones is a good way to do it.

Expert? (1, Insightful)

iamapizza (1312801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584420)

Given that he has several books on security, his opinion carries some weight.

I'm a developer, does that mean I can work in real estate?

Re:Expert? (1)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584494)

Given that he has several books on security, his opinion carries some weight.

I'm a developer, does that mean I can work in real estate?

As long as it virtual....sure, knock yourself out.

Quick, Silence The Dissenter! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584442)

Hurry, black bag him before he tells everyone the truth! Copyright Infringement! DMCA! Trade Secret! Terrorism! Something! Quick!

Can we make Air Travel Secure? (5, Insightful)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584448)

The answer: No.

The sooner most people grow and learn that "Shit Happens (tm)" and that no one can every prepare for every eventuality, the better. The "Security Theatre" is just a new opening for corrupt politicans and power-hungry individuals to remove more freedom from people.

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Re:Can we make Air Travel Secure? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584600)

The answer: No.

Yes we can, we already have. Though we can't protect against every contingency the odds [fivethirtyeight.com] of dying on a flight because of a terrorist attack are astronomical : "the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning."

Re:Can we make Air Travel Secure? (1, Informative)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584738)

Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Except Benjamin Franklin never said that.

A frequently-misquoted phrase commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Many misquotations simplify or generalise the sentence somewhat, or add parts not in the original quote, such as "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both", one of the more common variants.

The original quote is taken from, "A Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania," first published anonymously in London in 1759. The quote is an excerpt from a letter written in 1755 from the Assembly to the Governor of Pennsylvania.

Benjamin Franklin did publish the edition printed in Philadelphia, and most likely the original, but denied writing any part of it. The quote however may have originated from Franklin, but was excerpted for the book by the author.

Re:Can we make Air Travel Secure? (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584784)

AFAIK Franklin never flew in a plane. So I'd rather listen someone else. Besides, listening a long since decomposed body would not be fun anyway.

We can make flight safer - and I bet the cheapest way is to educate people and try to decrease unequality and unfairness in the world.

Re:Can we make Air Travel Secure? (3, Insightful)

Torodung (31985) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584874)

Actually, the quote is that anyone who would give up essential liberty to gain a little temporary security. You make it sound as if letting security search your bag when you enter a concert disqualifies one from the rights and privileges of citizenship. As always, the devil is in the details.

--
Toro

Yes I do Know (4, Insightful)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584452)

Terrorism is the smallest of security problems for air craft. The greatest issue is the rapid delivery of diseases from all corners of the world which threatens all of us all of the time. For example a common flu strain will easily kill far more people than we lost on 9/11. Rarer strains could wipe out millions.
                        The simple answer is to allow far less travel even inside our borders. International flights should be extremely limited. That will not only insure better health and safety but will also diminish the availability of air craft to terrorists as well.
                        Nations such as the old USSR that restricted travel were not totally wrong in that policy.

9/11 changed peoples' minds (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584454)

What are your thoughts? Do you think that we can actually make air travel (and any other kind of travel, for that matter) truly secure?"

No. There will never be a time when anything is "truly secure" only more secure. We can make air travel safer and indeed most people have already taken a few of the steps necessary by instinct. 9/11 changed peoples' mindset about hijackings in general and now it is far more dangerous for people who hijack a plane. If the passengers have even a suspicion that anything like what happened on 9/11 is taking place, they will act accordingly.

What a strange metric! (2, Insightful)

ifwm (687373) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584468)

"Given that he has several books on security, his opinion carries some weight"

I find that his credibility stems form something other than "volumes in his bibliography".

Is that anything like "Libraries of Congress"?

"That guy is really credible, look at that VIB number!"

Go Back to Allowing Passenger To be Armed (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584474)

Terrorists prefer easy targets. This is much less likely if they have to assume the plane (or bus.. or train) might be full of people carrying weapons.

No.. I'm not an NRA activist or a 'gun wacko'. I don't even own a firearm, but I do know that people used to carry guns on planes and that the stupidity with hijacking actually went up when passengers were required to disarm. I'd like to see terrorists run the risk of being shot dead in order to carry out their idiocy.

Mod Up (2, Interesting)

XanC (644172) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584696)

Finally the right idea. Why should we gift-wrap defenseless sheep for the bad guys?

Because bullets don't work like that. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584876)

The bad guy at the back of the plane will draw first. So that means probably one person dead no matter what.

Then the good guys in the front of the plane turn and see everyone behind the bad guy with their guns drawn. How are they supposed to identify the bad guy in that split second?

Meanwhile, the other bad guy at the front of the plane starts firing at the people at the back of the plane so they return fire, hitting the good guys at the front of the plane. And the good guys at the front of the plane return fire on the good guys at the back of the plane.

Everyone ends up dead and the bad guys only had to fire a few shots.

Easy... (1, Troll)

denzacar (181829) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584922)

How are they supposed to identify the bad guy in that split second?

He will be the brownish-blackish male speaking bad English or chanting/babbling in some foreign tongue.

Re:Because bullets don't work like that. (1)

zulater (635326) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584986)

People that carry firearms don't work like that. This is a red herring tactic that the anti-gun crowd and police departments use. In reality it's easy to tell who the bad guys are. They will be the ones with everyone's gun pointed at them.

Re:Mod Up (5, Interesting)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30585022)

I'm actually chair of the National Ninja Warrior's Advocacy Group; packing a gun is silly in most situations, mostly because you don't know how to use it or you don't know how to deal with situations where a gun is useless. For example, if I grab you in the alley, your gun is useless; I'm skilled enough to recognize your attempt at a weapon (assuming it's a knife) and block it (then find out it's a gun you're currently being forced to hold pointed at your foot...). However, if you're highly trained in Judo, my head is probably going into the nearest brick wall for trying.

A gun is a great self defense weapon. So are your fists. Your fists won't work from 30 feet away, and if you're being shot at you've got a slight problem. I believe we should train everyone to react in hostile situations. Anything, Judo, Boxing, Aikido, Ninjutsu, Kung Fu, it doesn't matter. If you hold a second level rank after 8 months, you're pretty dangerous; if you hold fifth Dan level after 17 years of training, you're carrying around one hell of a concealed weapon. If you're on a plane and some idiot pulls out a box cutter, he now has a plane full of ninjas to deal with; oops.

We should all learn to be some kind of martial artist, so we have a nation of ninja warriors. Nobody will fuck with anybody ever again. It's infeasible. On one point, everyone can kick your ass; on the other, everyone's reaction to being threatened is now to actively seek a way to destroy you. Maybe I'll stand here nice and quiet while you point a gun at some girl's head; but as soon as you glance behind you, and that thing slides just a bit up, angled away from her skull? I'm there, and your whole arm is gone, and neck snapped right in half. First chance I get.

This is the most stable form of society possible.

Weighing Opinions (5, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584510)

> Given that he has several books on security, his opinion carries some weight.

One would hope that experts be judged by quality rather than quantity.

Bruce Schneier has earned street cred in the industry over many years of work. He knows security top-to-bottom, cryptography to psychology to economy.

Once in a while some media outlets decide to air an actual competent professional instead of a fud-mongering buffoon, and people in the industry send them to Bruce.

Bruce is only pointing out the obvious. . . . (5, Insightful)

Salgak1 (20136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584518)

. . .simply, that as far as the TSA and similar efforts go, the Emperor not only has no clothes, nobody ever remotely NEAR him has a stitch on. About the only people doing airline security right are the Israelis, and their model only works because of the relatively limited scope of El Al's operations. The Christmas Day "panty bombing" showed cascade failures in the intelligence and investigation systems that are the only effective methods of defense against terrorism. In a RATIONAL world, **one** terrorism flag (i.e. one-way ticket, buying with cash, no luggage, watch list, etc) would yield pulling the passenger aside and "enhanced investigation": two flags, and the person is getting a very thorough body and luggage search, and three or more flags, it's grab the latex gloves, because it's a strip-search and fine-tooth comb search through luggage and posessions. But, alas, because some people don't bother checking, or reporting (assuming it's their job to do so. . .) in a timely matter, really obvious cases are allowed to pass, and the aftermath of Enhanced Security Theater does nothing but inconvenience the public, and potentially cause so much noise as to effectively mask any REAL events or dry-runs in progress. . .

Re:Bruce is only pointing out the obvious. . . . (-1, Flamebait)

gabrieltss (64078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584544)

Detriot Flight "attack" - INSIDE JOB!!!! This was a FALSE FLAG!

Flight 253 passenger: Sharp-dressed man aided terror suspect Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab onto plane without passport (MLive.com exclusive)
http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2009/12/flight_253_passenger_says_at_l.html [mlive.com]

BOMBSHELL: Evidence Clearly Indicates Staged Attack on Detroit Flight
http://www.infowars.com/bombshell-evidence-clearly-indicates-staged-attack-on-detroit-flight/ [infowars.com]

Man Videotaped Underwear Bomber On Flight 253
http://www.infowars.com/man-videotaped-underwear-bomber-on-flight-253/ [infowars.com]

Bomber Had No Passport, Helped To Board Plane By Sharp-Dressed Man
http://www.prisonplanet.com/bomber-had-no-passport-helped-to-board-plane-by-sharp-dressed-man.html [prisonplanet.com]

Yes, but... (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584534)

Yes, we can probably make air travel completely secure, or very nearly so. The problem is that the level of scrutiny that would require would make air travel too expensive for anyone to afford and so unpleasant that even those rich enough to afford it would be unwilling to undergo it.

That said, there's room for progress, but odds are we won't see any. We'll just see more nonsensical, ineffective rules and more numerous pissing contests with the semi-literate thugs they hire for airport security.

Our biggest problem (3, Insightful)

autocracy (192714) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584536)

“I feel better with the heightened security because I feel safe,” said Belisle, who was flying to Washington, D.C., to visit her son in Virginia.

Source: my local newspaper this morning. We call it security theatre. It's annoying, wasteful, ineffective in our minds. For much of the world, it's a teddy bear that keeps the closet monsters away. People just feel better.

Simple - stick everyone through an MRI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584542)

It should be possible to detect signatures of typical types of explosives. The same goes for luggage.

Then you just have to scorch the earth of areas surrounding airports to avoid SAM missile rockets.

Of course, only idiots try to blow up planes. The planning that goes into blowing up a plane could easily go into taking down a bridge or elevated footpath.

Just what I've always said (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584566)

"When somebody can commit an atrocity and no laws are changed as a result, only then will I agree that we have achieved maturity as a society."

Re:Just what I've always said (5, Funny)

Itninja (937614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584706)

Impressive. I can see you have said this hundreds of times [google.com] .

What about making other things more secure first? (5, Interesting)

Eadwacer (722852) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584608)

Roughly 16,000 people were killed by automobiles in the first six months of this year. Roughly 22,000 were killed by preventable medical errors. If we crashed two or three 747s per week, we still wouldn't be at that level of deaths. If the money we waste on TSA were spent elsewhere, we'd be ahead of the game.

What's the point in reporting that? (2)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584984)

Listen up, pal. I don't know who you've been talking to, but the media isn't here to report facts or put news in perspective. We're here to sell ads. If we don't blow everything out of proportion around the clock, what is going to keep you glued to our 24 hour news^W entertainment cycle?

Re:What about making other things more secure firs (1)

harl (84412) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584996)

The regular, non swine, flu kills 25K-32K a year according to the CDC.

Yu&o Fail It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584646)

world will have hot on the hhels of

Security is harder than safety (1)

drdrgivemethenews (1525877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584688)

The FAA has a pretty good record of making travel via commercial aircraft truly safe. But their adversaries are aircraft and flight control systems, and all the various ways those can malfunction.

The TSA has an equivalent job, but terrorists, as stupid as some of them are, are a good bit brighter than airplanes, and they're self-destructive to boot. So perfect security is unlikely to happen until terrorists go away.

We need to learn *as a country* what cost/benefit analysis means, and how to use it on the terrorism problem.

TSA works for Al Qaeda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584702)

The flight was never in any danger. The so-called "bomber" had the explosive equivalent of a box of matches, which he used to great effect to castrate himself in the most embarrassing, painful, and self-destructive manner possible. The proper response to seeing someone light his own underwear on fire is to laugh, not panic.

If there was a overarching strategy, it was to put "Al Qaeda" back on the front page as part of a new recruitment effort and to disrupt American commerce. With only the tiniest of nudges, Americans are once again demanding to have their civil liberties destroyed, freedom of travel curtailed, billions of dollars to be spent in self-defeating and paralytic "security" measures. Air travel in the US is now a self-inflicted nightmare. It does not need to be this way.

If there really is an "Al Qaeda," its most effective tool is the TSA. The American taxpayer has spent billions of dollars to build "Al Qaeda" from a rag-tag group of forty guys living in caves into a globe-spanning super-spy network more powerful than the CIA. All based on a one-time event that was solved nine years ago by simply locking the cockpit doors.

I wonder if this is what it was like to live through the McCarthy "Red Scare" era? We are far beyond that now.

Re:TSA works for Al Qaeda (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584850)

Wow, where can I get some of those matches?. He had almost twice as much PETN as the shoe bomber and was near the fuel supply (although over the ocean would have been a better time). Had he successfully detonated his crotch, there would have been a problem.

A better article about Schneier exploits (5, Informative)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584748)

The Atlantic published an article about Schneier exploiting airport security [theatlantic.com] by pointing out the fundamental flaw that airport scanners don't actually check the no fly list.

Bruce points out that the no fly list only gets checked when you purchase the ticket, and your ID isn't checked when you actually use it. For example, bad guy steals a credit card and buys a ticket under a fake name. That gets him a valid ticket and avoids the no fly list

Next, the bad guy takes a boarding pass and modifies it in photoshop to show his real name, and uses that fake boarding pass along with his real id to get through airport screening. Security checks if his id matches the name on the boarding pass, but they never check the computer to see if the name is on the no fly list or even if the boarding pass is valid.

Finally, the bad guy can rip up the fake boarding pass and use the real boarding pass purchased with the stolen credit card at the gate and gets on the plane. Notice throughout the whole process, nobody checked if the bad guy's id against the no fly list?

Why go to all the effort? (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584930)

If your name is on a no-fly list, you send a different guy who's name is not on the list.

If you cannot find someone who's name is not on the list, you buy guns and go on a shooting rampage inside the terminal where all the other travelers are standing in line, holding their shoes.

The terminal closes and all the flights are re-directed to other landing strips. If you pick the terminal right and the day right, you pretty much shut down all travel in that sector.

Change our clothes (1)

supradave (623574) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584758)

A simple way to accomplish the clothing aspect is to disallow us to wear clothes on an airplane. Of course, the flying naked idea wouldn't fly. So why not provide us with a flight uniform that is made from some easily scanned material so if you're wearing clothes, it would be easy to tell. That way, no naked scanners. No puff tests. No shoes. Then when we're off the flight, collect our luggage, change our clothes and get on our way. Not allowing bags or clothes and such on the plane would be best.

Just removing the ridiculous security checks and allowing us to continue living a life of liberty would be best, even if some people die.

it can be improved (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584792)

Replace the TSA with a bunch of Israeli screeners. They manage to do a good job without inconveniencing legitimate travelers.

Extra "security" makes people feel safe? (1)

russ_allegro (444120) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584834)

I find it odd that there are people who feel more safe when they take off their shoes. Whenever I've gone somewhere where they pat me down and check me with a metal detector wand, it makes me feel like someone is going to shoot me inside there. I feel more vulnerable.

I recently went to a rollerskating rink where I was wanded and patted down by a police officer. Of course he didn't even check my skates which has more than enough room for a hand gun. Metal detector and pat down at a skate rink, perhaps I shouldn't be here. Did I feel safe there? Not at all, it did the opposite.

Airport security is stupid. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584878)

Airport security is stupid. I fail to see the logic of having a guard search my rear end in case I am one of the 1 in 10 billion airport travelers that decides to carry a bomb, so that I can get run over by a girl talking on her cell phone on my way home from the airport.

Americans have no way of measuring or comparing risks, and honestly I think every interest group wants it that way.

About as much chance as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30584892)

Secure travel is about as likely as secure software.
Some idiot savant will poke a hole in whatever protection you put in place.
T

USA terrified: ergo, USA has lost War on Terror.. (3, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584970)

The USA has declared for several years a "War on Terror". The USA (and many other nations to be fair) is a state that fears visitors bringing their own nail scissors to its shores. The USA is seriously thinking of asking people to keep their hands in view and not visit the toilet 60 minutes before arriving as this is seen as a real threat to its national security.

These actions don't seem rational to me. The country with a military spend ten times greater than the next largest country, probably with a military the size of most of the rest of the world is scared of individuals approaching its shores bearing nail scissors? These seem to be the action of a terrified, irrational people and nation. Therefore, if the USA (and others) have declared a War on Terror*, then the USA being terrified means the emotion Terror has won. What happens now?

*I would note that I have a problem with the concept "War on Terror" as I don't see how you can declare a war on a human emotion. Is it possible to have a "War on Joy" for example? Perhaps you could declare a "War on preventing terror in Americans" and find ways of stopping Americans being terrified but I think this would be a tricky task. A lot of people are quite frightened of spiders in their bath tubs after all.

I think "War on Terror" is short for "War on people who use non-conventional forms of warfare against us that do not declare war on us as a sovereign nation" but I fear that this is difficult to bound in any way so actually means "permanent warfare against any individual or group that we, by our definitions, define as guilty of violent action against us and/or a threat to us at any time in the future". If it is not against another sovereign state, can war be declared, and can it be agreed to be ceased? References really welcomed to any well written definitions on what a "War on Terror" means. I'd really love to find some well argued definitions.

Video interview (1)

hey (83763) | more than 4 years ago | (#30584988)

Since the plane in this latest attack flew from outside the US I expect the next measure will be video interviews by US-based security personal before you are allowed into a plane heading to the US.

Can be done, but public won't like it. (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30585010)

No carry on at all and dressed only in disposable paper overalls.

Once you separate the people (i.e. their bodies) from everything else the chances of them doing anything that could threaten an airplane drop dramatically. Short of ingesting some sort of explosive, in large enough quantities to make a hole in a plane there aren't many other ways to do damage.

However, all that will happen then is that the baddies will find other ways to cause fear: such as targeting easier forms of transport, IEDs beside motorways for example.

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