Why no airplane terrorist post? December 27, 2009 2:41 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious about why nobody posted anything to the front page about the foiled terrorism attempt on the 25th.

I know that this site has a complicated relationship with newsfilter-type posts, but traditionally, huge national/world events override any distaste for that sort of thing. After the story broke I visited Metafilter expecting to find a 200-comment discussion, but there was nothing. I thought perhaps someone had made a single-link newsfilter post that had been deleted, but nope.

I checked the archives to see if previous, similarly noteworthy terrorism attempts were posted, and they were; in fact the shoebomber was so OMG! that the poster didn't even bother to include a link because it wasn't "on any of the websites yet." True, in those days we were younger and dumber and more lacking in impulse control, but it's odd that an almost identical event doesn't even merit a mention today.

Why didn't I post it, you ask. Well, I thought somebody else would. Also, I only had enough time to put together a single-link newsfilter thing and people around here get all mean about that, so I thought I'd wait for someone else to either do a better job or take one for the team. And then later, when I did have time, it had been long enough since the event that I started to worry that maybe there was some reason for its absence that I didn't know about. Which is why I'm posting this, instead of that. In short, I was afraid.

Anyway, basically, I was disappointed not to see it because this site has better discussions than anywhere else on the web and I've been spoiled. So, any thoughts as to why it wasn't posted?
posted by granted to MetaFilter-Related at 2:41 PM (213 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I couldn't say for sure, but probably nobody decided to post about it.
posted by Partial Law at 2:48 PM on December 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


I sincerely hope it's the end of reflexive newsfilter but I doubt it. I'm interested in whatever discussion will arise but I'm more than content to wait for a proper treatment of the subject.
posted by Skorgu at 2:51 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Weird. My only source of news is Reddit, Metafilter, and occasionally Google News, and I haven't heard about this ordeal until now.

Maybe I need to start listening to more NPR...
posted by Taft at 2:52 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done."
posted by iamkimiam at 2:53 PM on December 27, 2009 [78 favorites]


So, any thoughts as to why it wasn't posted?

It's the holidays and no one was killed. Had the plane exploded or some such, I'm pretty sure there would have been a thread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:08 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


If someone can incorporate it into a post that is the best of the web, then I assume it would appear on the front page.

That no one has yet should tell you something.
posted by armage at 3:09 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I think everybody has terror fatigue, and not every close call is interesting enough to warrant a post. I know this probably makes me a horrible person, but when I heard about the latest incident I didn't really feel anything except "meh."
posted by amyms at 3:09 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Also, not everything needs to be on MetaFilter.
posted by armage at 3:10 PM on December 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


I'd like to think that part of the reason is that the details of the event & the players are still emerging has something to do with it. It wasn't until last night that the nature of the bomb was released & I didn't see any interviews with the pasengers until this morning. So a quicky post just so we can discuss what happened would've been necessarily weak. At least I'd like to think that's why nobody did it; but probably the fact that many of us only read MeFi at work & are too stuffed with pie & sunk into our couches had something to do with it too.
posted by scalefree at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2009


Because then we would have to have a follow-up post about the poor guy who had diarrhea or something on the same flight a day later.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:13 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yay for security theater. Because of this dude now they're saying that on international flights for the final hour before landing all passengers must remain in their seats (no restroom) with nothing covering their lap and with absolutely no electronic devices.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:15 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


That's total bullshit.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:16 PM on December 27, 2009


FYI if anyone is working on a post the most in-depth coverage I've yet read was from The Independent.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:22 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd like to think that part of the reason is that the details of the event & the players are still emerging has something to do with it.

Nah, the Bombay attacks was covered in real time pretty much, even when nothing was known. It's holidays, no one was killed, thank God, and it all seems pretty meh.

There's no particular reason WHY there should be a post about it. Failed terrorist attacks aren't that big a deal and shouldn't be treated as such.

now they're saying that on international flights for the final hour before landing all passengers must remain in their seats (no restroom) with nothing covering their lap and with absolutely no electronic devices.

Idiots.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:23 PM on December 27, 2009


Weird. My only source of news is Reddit, Metafilter, and occasionally Google News

That's utterly horrifying.
posted by modernnomad at 3:24 PM on December 27, 2009 [17 favorites]


I think Brandon Blatcher has it perfectly.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:26 PM on December 27, 2009


He burned his groin area trying to sacrifice himself and kill innocents in Detroit Rock City with a syringe.

...




That's the baseline for any future post.
posted by Atreides at 3:27 PM on December 27, 2009


It until the Book Bomber tries his great idea out and all books and paper objects will be banned.

Seriously though, I think we are about 7 years away from not being allowed any carry-ons.
posted by yeti at 3:28 PM on December 27, 2009


I've heard very little about this event, on Metafilter or elsewhere, so I think the question isn't "why didn't mefi post this?" but "why didn't anyone else talk about it?"

Personally, I think Brandon Blatcher's reasons are dead on.
posted by lilac girl at 3:29 PM on December 27, 2009


Yeah, the new security theater rules are making me strongly reconsider heading home this March to visit my family. If the openly hostile TSA folk at O'hare* weren't bad enough, now we've got to rehash kindergarten and sit quietly with our hands on our desks? Of course, Japan was nice enough to put these rules into effect on all flights, not just the ones going to America, so I might just stay put this spring.

*To be fair, everyone at O'hare is openly hostile.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:31 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


A large segment of Metafilter is not checking in this weekend because they're off doing Christmas holiday things.

It's local news where I live, I'm just the other side of town from the hospital where the world's television media are camped, and believe me, there's been almost nothing more to report since Friday afternoon.

This attempt is not non-news, but there is so little substance to share, especially since the plane touched down, that Team Metafilter doesn't have to be called on to stitch together the myriad little facets of news aggregated from dozens of different outlets.

It's not something we need a post about.
posted by ardgedee at 3:31 PM on December 27, 2009


huge national/world events override any distaste for that sort of thing

this wasn't a huge national/world event
posted by pyramid termite at 3:34 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


As an aside, at lunch yesterday I was in a restaurant with CNN on both TVs, and CNN's willingness to cancel all the world's news coverage for a round-the clock news coverage on something for which nothing's happened for an entire day was appalling. I shudder to think what Fox News was like. I'm grateful that for once Metafilter hasn't been a part of this anxiety feedback loop.
posted by ardgedee at 3:35 PM on December 27, 2009 [9 favorites]


As Rhomboid mentions the real story is the (unfortunately predictable) over-reaction of the US security apparatus.

Only one bag carry on, no electronic devices, no in flight entertainment, no sky maps lest some nasty type know where they are, nothing on your lap (how about in your hands?) for the last hour??

I'm willing to bet as early as next week some bright bulb will get the idea to roll this safely programme out domestically. And what will the reaction of folks be then?

The longer I live outside America the more amazed I am at how utterly passive and easily distracted folks are. I couldn't believe all the grave warnings I was subject to about "taking away your freedom" when the health care bill was being debated, and yet crap like this goes over without even a roar from the public, let alone a whimper.

From Heathrow I can board a jet going to almost any other country in the world except the United States and the restrictions won't be as severe. And that includes most, if not all, Middle Eastern countries including more than one hot spot.

We've got to visit my Mother in Western New York Q1 of next year, and now we're not going anywhere near a US airport. We'll fly into Toronto then either drive or take the train down to Niagara Falls crossing the border there.

Fortunately I haven't booked yet. Almost did right before Christmas, but then I thought we'd wait and see just how desperate the carriers were after the holidays.

This is bogus.
posted by Mutant at 3:36 PM on December 27, 2009 [21 favorites]


Well depending on who you listen too, books and blankets are already part of the things you can't have in your lap during the last hour. I don't know if you're allowed to read if you hold it up in mid-air the whole time.
posted by Rhomboid at 3:38 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously though, I think we are about 7 years away from not being allowed any carry-ons.

And, of course, any electronics in checked luggage are pretty much forfeit to baggage "handlers." So, when that happens, no more electronics (laptops, cameras, games) on trips, I guess.
posted by blenderfish at 3:40 PM on December 27, 2009


So, any thoughts as to why it wasn't posted?

Well, FWIW, I didn't think it was worth posting because everyone would already have heard about it, and it didn't seem to raise very many issues that would have been conducive to a good discussion (U.S. still threatened by terrorists: no shit; colour-coded threat level useless: no shit; march of increasingly invasive screening continues: shit). Now, when the government announces that as a result of this incident everyone is going to have to undergo body scans that see right through not only your clothing but your body (explosives up some jihadi's ass is the next thing we'll see), I'll post about that if no one has already.
posted by Dasein at 3:42 PM on December 27, 2009


Which is why I'm posting this, instead of that. In short, I was afraid.

Way to let the terrorists win.
posted by Caduceus at 3:45 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm glad I took that Christmas-day Amtrak and avoided the airports altogether! Sure, it took 20 hours, but I met one of the members of the Slingshot collective, and played music with people in the lounge car until two in the morning. Kicked ass.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:51 PM on December 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


I'm flying Tuesday afternoon from the US to Canada. Is there any definitive information yet about the changes to the security screening process, especially how I'll have to pack? For example, can I still have my laptop with me in the overhead compartment?
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:55 PM on December 27, 2009


as a result of this incident everyone is going to have to undergo body scans

Oh, they're already going there. (Wouldn't you know Lieberman would be one.)
posted by Rhomboid at 3:58 PM on December 27, 2009


Getting excited about terrorism is September 10th-style thinking.
posted by DU at 4:01 PM on December 27, 2009


It isn't just the American media that is indifferent, whether it's AQ or not, nobody in Arab media cares.
posted by netbros at 4:03 PM on December 27, 2009


Re: Changes in the screening process. The latest news here in Canada is that people leaving for the US should arrive 3 hours before departure, and that for long flights no-one will be allowed to leave their seats for a half-hour after takeoff and for a full hour before landing. (The goal being, I guess, to ensure less time to assemble bomb-like material.) Security theatre, indeed. What an ineffective and harsh response.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 4:03 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Because it is the usual terror theater, a completely overrated threat, a lone crazy idiot with a dysfunctional bomb. And because the rest of the media can't seem to shut up repeating the same 9 facts and licking the nutsack of the guy who jumped the bomber on live TV all day and all night. Oh, and Reps. King and Hoekstra milking every last drop of whatever is left of post-9/11 Arab hate for political gain. Disgusting, pathetic, weak.

We have become a nation of wimps. We deserve fascism.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


all passengers must remain in their seats (no restroom) with nothing covering their lap

First they came for the people with sexual fetishes about airplane landings, and I didn't speak up...
posted by qvantamon at 4:20 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's sort of like the shoebomber thing - everyone knows Al Quaeda had exactly one bullet and they already shot it. Now it's kind of sad and borderline funny - I mean the dude actually lit his pants on fire to strike a blow against that gleaming beacon of American industrial power, Detroit. This approaching SNL levels of snurk - it's like the sketch where the news anchor is interviewing Squeaky Fromme.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:21 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Wow, that didn't take long at all. Scant days after the American war machine took the cloaking device off its direct military involvement in Yemen, we have an alleged attempted terrorist attack by an alleged attempted terrorist who, just scant hours after his capture, has allegedly confessed to getting his alleged attempted terrorist material from ... wait for it ... Yemen! - Chris Floyd
posted by Joe Beese at 4:29 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I shudder to think what Fox News was like.

Last night only CNN covered it. I was pretty surprised.
posted by jgirl at 4:31 PM on December 27, 2009


After the story broke I visited Metafilter expecting to find a 200-comment discussion

We were very busy being real people and discussing the events with our crazy Republican uncles instead. Anyways, we're not your dancing monkey.
posted by hermitosis at 4:32 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


He burned his groin area trying to sacrifice himself and kill innocents in Detroit Rock City with a syringe.

And here I thought Iggy had mellowed out a bit in his old age.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:43 PM on December 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


DHS downgraded from security theater to security muppetry.
posted by boo_radley at 4:48 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


We have become a nation of wimps. We deserve fascism.

Speak for yourself. I am not a wimp. I do not deserve fascism.

The whole point was that the story -- which was over before most people even knew about it, and with little other information in the way of actual facts surfacing thanks to holiday weekend and other reasons -- didn't make it to MetaFilter. Don't know why, don't care. I think breaking newsfilter posts are often weak posts otherwise and would be happy to see something on this once we know more about what was going on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


DHS downgraded from security theater to security muppetry.

[Sam the Eagle voice] Flagged as offensive [/StEv]
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:50 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm 20799 so it was my turn to post a newsfilter FPP and I completely forgot. Sorry. Since this event has already happened and my newspaper is completely blank, it falls to 20800, tallackn's. I sent him an email so keep a watch on the blue!
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:05 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wasn't really a terrorist attack, was it? More like... "Angry moron fails to ignite his own pants. On a plane."

Also, a lot of the facts haven't been released by the authorities yet.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:15 PM on December 27, 2009


Sources have not confirmed whether or not his willy was singed.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:17 PM on December 27, 2009


Actually, I kind of like how the president has been relatively low-key about this. I know he gets some deserved, and some purely knee jerk, shit about things, but to my mind this is a pretty big departure from the last president, which I suspect would have been all over the airwaves bleating about terror.

As to the "nothing in your lap, and no getting up" If that turns out to be a long term thing then I'll get pissed, if it is something short term-in-the-aftermath I can't be too upset, give it a day or two, and we can revisit.
posted by edgeways at 5:26 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


The longer I live outside America the more amazed I am at how utterly passive and easily distracted folks are.

Uh, like the rest of the world is any different? I mean, you are in the UK, right? Have you lived there long enough to remember what kinds of restrictions and impositions people in Europe accepted, in response to the IRA, ETA, and various other home-grown and imported terrorist attacks back in the day?

I mean, I get your central point about how problematic it is that people acquiesce to these inane restrictions on their civil liberties, and I agree with you. My issue is with labeling it as something particularly American. Back in the 1980s, the weirdness went the other way -- you'd get off the airplane in Europe, and think "How can these people find it normal to have police everywhere with machine guns? Doesn't it bother them to be asked for ID?"

I am not a wimp. I do not deserve fascism.

And, needless to say, even passive wimps don't deserve fascism.
posted by Forktine at 5:28 PM on December 27, 2009 [12 favorites]


Seriously though, I think we are about 7 years away from not being allowed any carry-ons.

We're also about a decade away from having to rethink air travel entirely because of Peak Oil and insane fuel prices.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:40 PM on December 27, 2009 [6 favorites]


A well-researched link-heavy post about the bomber's background (elite schools, fight with family, nicknamed "The Pope" in prep school) would be interesting.

Why not do that?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:45 PM on December 27, 2009


I'm a blimp and I deserve turkeyism.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:46 PM on December 27, 2009


It wasn't "foiled". It failed because of poor manufacturing quality control. The detonation mechanism didn't work properly, so the bomb burned instead of exploding.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:49 PM on December 27, 2009


To anyone that has flown after the incident: only one carry-on now? Really?
posted by starman at 5:56 PM on December 27, 2009


I was flying yesterday (domestically) and even then I wasn't concerned except that there might be more security theater.

It's yet another "nothing happened, but it looked like something might happen for a moment so PANIC!!!"
posted by Karmakaze at 6:03 PM on December 27, 2009


If that turns out to be a long term thing then I'll get pissed

You can thank the shoe bomber for having to take your shoes off still to this day eight years later, so I wouldn't be surprised if this policy sticks around too. They both used the same explosive (PETN), same MO, and same result (subdued by passengers before any real damage occurred.) Of course anyone with half a brain would notice that the taking the shoes off policy was a complete waste of time because a would-be terrorist would simply hide the PETN in a condom strapped to the inside of his thigh like this guy did. So you would think that this would be evidence that the "sit quietly with nothing on your lap during take off and landing" plan is a monumental waste of effort, but apparently all logic is absent from those that make these policies.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:05 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why is this restriction on things in your lap for the last 60 (90?) minutes of flight? I mean, then you just blow up your underpants bomb 5 hours into the 8 hour flight, right?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:13 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


To anyone that has flown after the incident: only one carry-on now? Really?

We flew today, out of Tampa to JFK, and didn't feel any changes regarding security. I think these changes are only for flights coming into the USA from other countries.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:15 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously, the best solution to this is an entirely clear glass-and-lucite lavatory.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:20 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I am suddenly happy I have a layover in Toronto before going to Paris.
posted by The Whelk at 6:23 PM on December 27, 2009


Why is this restriction on things in your lap for the last 60 (90?) minutes of flight?

As far as I can tell, the only tangible goal of security theater is to be able to confidently say "they won't be able to do that again" where that is the precise confluence of events in question. It doesn't seem to matter that the security theater is thwarted by altering any one of hundreds of minor variables (don't put it in your shoe, strap it to your leg; don't do it at your seat, do it in the lav; don't do it during landing, do it in the middle of the flight), because if you go down that road then you see that it's truly a pointless exercise of whack-a-mole. But no one seems to want to just come out and say, "hey, look, your chances of being hurt or killed when you step into an automobile is like five orders of magnitude larger than your chances of encountering any form of terrorism on an airplane, so let's not get all crazy and just keep doing what we've been doing."
posted by Rhomboid at 6:27 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]



Obviously, the best solution to this is

The 5th Element Solution. Just drop all the pretense - Modern air travel is largely semi-wasted long-form teleportation anyway (you sit in a room to go to another room which takes you another room where you wait until you go into the other room and then you're someplace else) just knock out all the passangers, stack them like folding chairs, and shake em awake on arrival. It would make more sense than the current system at any rate.
posted by The Whelk at 6:28 PM on December 27, 2009 [20 favorites]


I am suddenly happy I have a layover in Toronto before going to Paris.

Don't be. Apparently Pearson International is FUBAR, with delays measuring in the hours and flights being cancelled by the dozens upon dozens. We're talking a complete and utter hellhole of insanity. Avoid at all costs for at least the next week. Seriously.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:40 PM on December 27, 2009


I wasn't saying we were a "nation of wimps" because the story wasn't an fpp on mefi, but because of the relentless scaredy cat coverage everywhere else.

Obviously the bit about deserving fascism was Swiftian hyperbole. We don't deserve fascism. We earn it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:49 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]

To anyone that has flown after the incident: only one carry-on now? Really?
It was only one carry-on before the incident, when I flew out on the 19th. (Well, one carry-on and one "personal item" because they can't take away ladies' purses.)
posted by Karmakaze at 6:57 PM on December 27, 2009


Yeah, but the one 'personal item' can be as big as a large messenger bag or daypack, and 'carry on' extends as far as the usual rolly-businessman-type-bags. Shrug--not that flying isn't a nightmarish pain in the ass, but, as airline inefficiencies and indignities go, the number of bags they let you bring aboard isn't even on the radar.

(Also, remind me to start taking the train. Sure, it'll take a lot longer, but that just means I'll have time to watch that Norwegian video.)
posted by box at 7:13 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Apparently Pearson International is FUBAR, with delays measuring in the hours and flights being cancelled by the dozens upon dozens. We're talking a complete and utter hellhole of insanity.

Yeah, my neighbour got back from there a couple of hours ago and told us about multiple-hour lines at each of checkin, US customs and the gates and planes being cancelled several hours after all the check in and baggage check. She's almost hysterical with tiredness and frustration and needless to say won't be making it out (nor got any help from air canada). Apparently all the food and water in the snack stores was sold out too. We've cancelled our flights to NYC, will go back another time.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:15 PM on December 27, 2009


I just returned home from an unsuccessful attempt at getting on a flight for San Francisco. The Toronto airport is FUCKED. The 9:25 am flight to San Fran left at 6 pm. My 5:30 flight was cancelled. I'm booked for the same flight tomorrow. I'm pretty sure there's not a chance in hell. I tried to switch my departure city to Buffalo, but no partner US carrier would allow Air Canada to confirm seats on their airline?? Merry Christmas!
posted by gman at 7:22 PM on December 27, 2009


It's so very MetaFilter that there isn't a post about someone getting through security with a bomb, but there would of course be a post about reporters getting through security with a mock bomb.
posted by smackfu at 7:27 PM on December 27, 2009


mutant: The longer I live outside America the more amazed I am at how utterly passive and easily distracted folks are.

forktine: I mean, I get your central point about how problematic it is that people acquiesce to these inane restrictions on their civil liberties, and I agree with you. My issue is with labeling it as something particularly American.

...Yeah, what? Aren't you in London, city of hundreds of thousands of television cameras watching you everywhere you go?

I agree with forktine - I don't see how classifying this as an American problem is useful. It kind of suggests the conclusion "so the rest of the world can sit pretty and not worry about civil liberties."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:35 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now if I were to post it, I would use this link.
posted by smackfu at 7:52 PM on December 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Why is this restriction on things in your lap for the last 60 (90?) minutes of flight?

As far as I can tell, the only tangible goal of security theater is to be able to confidently say "they won't be able to do that again" where that is the precise confluence of events in question.


YES. Exactly. As if it could never occur to a terrorist to go to the washroom and assemble a bomb more than an hour before landing. Just how stupid are the people in charge of airline security? The whole thing reminded me of this unrelated column about how it's a bad idea to try to rush to legislate against a particular situation happening again.
posted by Dasein at 8:02 PM on December 27, 2009


In short, I was afraid.

The terrorists have won.
posted by wabbittwax at 8:05 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Only one bag carry on, no electronic devices, no in flight entertainment, no sky maps lest some nasty type know where they are

Okay, there's that pesky "pilots distracted by laptops fly to wrong state" all wrapped up...

What's all this about terrorism?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:09 PM on December 27, 2009


If we're going to post "would-be terrorist fails; government agencies react stupidly" on the Blue every time it happens, that would be pretty much every day. It's not a bigger deal just because it was in the US.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:27 PM on December 27, 2009


I can't tell you how many times I've caught my pants on fire and you don't see me making an FPP about it.
posted by Sailormom at 8:34 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Remember the good old days when crazy fucksticks could try to hijack or blow up planes without being labeled "terrorist"?

Also, thanks to TSA overreaction... my trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday is starting to look less relaxing. Flying these days is like riding in the back of the squad car.
posted by Netzapper at 8:35 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


The part of the story I thought was cool was the dude (not an American, natch) who hopped over a couple seats to stop the guy. Yay for taking things into your own hands!

Also, this new No Lap policy - how is this supposed to work for when you fly with an in-lap baby?
posted by serazin at 8:38 PM on December 27, 2009


Anyways, we're not your dancing monkey.

That was way harsh, Tai. And not at all what I meant, which I hope was clear.
posted by granted at 8:40 PM on December 27, 2009


So what happens if you get up to use the lavatory in the last hour of the flight? Do the stewardesses attempt to physically restrain you? Does the pilot turn the plane around? Do they arrest you when you land and place you on the No Fly list?
posted by Eideteker at 8:44 PM on December 27, 2009


Yeah, my neighbour got back from there a couple of hours ago and told us about multiple-hour lines at each of checkin, US customs and the gates and planes being cancelled several hours after all the check in and baggage check. She's almost hysterical with tiredness and frustration and needless to say won't be making it out (nor got any help from air canada). Apparently all the food and water in the snack stores was sold out too. We've cancelled our flights to NYC, will go back another time.

Sigh, okay fine - my next vacation is gonna be a couch fort in my living room with a case of champagne, a can of nitrous and lots of brightly colored lights.
posted by The Whelk at 8:51 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


So what happens if you get up to use the lavatory in the last hour of the flight? Do the stewardesses attempt to physically restrain you? Does the pilot turn the plane around? Do they arrest you when you land and place you on the No Fly list?

A phrase from the animal kingdom might be appropriate here and that phrase is "Submissive urination"
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on December 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


So what happens if you get up to use the lavatory in the last hour of the flight?

This is what I was thinking -- I give this statute a short lifespan, until a few Unfortunate Projectile Diahrrea Incidents will cause the TSA to rethink things.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 PM on December 27, 2009


"Ms Flight Attendant, if you do not let me get up right now, I will urinate on my seat. Can we make a deal here?"
posted by serazin at 8:58 PM on December 27, 2009


I'm actually planning on wearing pants I don't like, with nothing in the pockets, specifically so that I can piss and shit all over myself and the seat if they won't let me up. In a really perverse (non-sexual) way, I'm looking forward to it.
posted by Netzapper at 9:04 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some dude lit his balls on fire, which is an appropriate response to realizing you're landing in Detroit, as far as I'm concerned.

TSA gave my Captain a pat-down this morning, which should tell you how sharp they are. I mean, if dude wants to crash the plane HE JUST HAS TO AIM AT A FUCKING MOUNTAIN OR SOMETHING HE IS FLYING THE GODDAMN PLANE WHO CARES IF HIS SHOES BEEP?

It's like they think if they completely decimate people's desire to fly that there will be less people on planes and thus less terrorists? They're trying to annoy them so much throughout the flight that they forget how to build a bomb?

Whatever inane ideas they're tossing around, I'm not going to keep a 3 year old from using the damn lav. Because that's stupid. Passengers are not the enemy (even though I really fucking hate you guys sometimes). A passenger is the one who stopped dudes balls from engulfing others in flames. And if I lose my job for that then fine, because these assholes are costing me my job security anyway because they've made flying absolutely dreadful.
posted by jnaps at 9:07 PM on December 27, 2009 [36 favorites]


We've got to visit my Mother in Western New York Q1 of next year, and now we're not going anywhere near a US airport. We'll fly into Toronto then either drive or take the train down to Niagara Falls crossing the border there.

Tip: if you're planning to get out at Niagara Falls, New York, get out instead on the Ontario side and drive across. You can't get out on the New York side until CBP has cleared the train. This can take more than two hours if the train is full. (Also note that there's only one departure per day, so unless you will be getting in early in the morning, Toronto time, driving will be better.)

And while we're talking about Toronto—what on earth is the point of treating Toronto (or any other major Canadian airport) like it's an overseas destination? Presumably, requiring everyone to sit down for the last hour is designed to stop misconduct in U.S. airspace. What's the point of requiring everyone to sit down for the last hour of a YYZ–MIA flight when everyone's been able to stand up all the way from Pittsburgh to Valdosta?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:09 PM on December 27, 2009


You could have made a post instead of this Metatalk thread.
posted by floam at 9:09 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anyone have more recent info re: Toronto? I've got to fly in to there next weekend (from Denver). Given that the last time I flew into Toronto they lost my bags for 3 days (which was not-so-great given that I was there for a job interview)... I'm not exactly keen on giving them any of my luggage. Maybe I should just mail stuff.

Sigh, security theater. While I'm asking questions, has anyone got an idea whom I *can* complain to about nonefficacious crap? The TSA agent dealing with me isn't the right person, it's not like they make the rules. But somebody must be.
posted by nat at 9:30 PM on December 27, 2009


The local news (in Toronto) is reporting multi-hour boarding delays and enormous lines at the airport for flights headed to the USA, due to the additional security screening procedures now in effect, combined with it being the busiest travel day of the year.

It's the front page story on the Toronto Star website at the moment, just for example (www.thestar.com).
posted by FishBike at 9:44 PM on December 27, 2009


So what happens if you get up to use the lavatory in the last hour of the flight?.... Do they arrest you when you land and place you on the No Fly list?

Apparently the crew bangs on the door, busts the door open, and summons armed personnel to whisk you away for questioning. At least if you're Nigerian.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:46 PM on December 27, 2009


OMDTLP: You are thinking about these things as if there were logic involved. "What on earth is the point," you ask? There is no point. They have No. Fucking. Clue. what they are doing.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 PM on December 27, 2009


Maybe The Powers That Be don't want us to travel. It's to be restricted to those who can afford to blow off this bullshit that we call commercial airline travel. It's not like we're supposed to have any money anyway; Wall Street has been making sure of that.

There's gotta be a payoff here somewhere, and it's got to involve fucking the average American citizen over. That has been the modus operandi for the past decade or more.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:49 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps acts of terrorism are finally being seen as a possibility at any time, any place -- rather than the bugle call for mass hysteria. Perhaps we will have to accept that there are some things we just can't predict or prevent. Planes fall from the sky, sharks attack and terrorists blow things up.

I can remember being on an Air France flight in Thailand in the late 70's - it was held on the tarmac for four hours and then passengers - even my children - were body checked upon debarking. And, in the 70's my dad was a 'sky marshall' (remember them? guns on a plane, hijackers to Cuba?) In the 80's my sister in London avoided the tube and pubs (while much of the US still romanticized the IRA). The world has never been safe.

The ONLY thing I resent - having said all the above - is the absurd (and inept) Bush-era security restrictions at airports. I believe they are totally for effect. They keep the hysteria fresh and condition people into accepting more restrictions, more government control over their lives. And THAT is something we can predict -- and prevent.

I'm not an anti-government person; I just want a SMARTER government! And ... this is personal ... a flight from Hawai'i to the nearest continent takes 5 hours; we don't have a chunnel or train option.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:50 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's gotta be a payoff here somewhere


At this point I'm willing to believe these stunts are being financed by Cunard.
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 PM on December 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sailormom: "I can't tell you how many times I've caught my pants on fire"

Liar. Liar.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 10:04 PM on December 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Just want to point out that with the clusterfuck at Pearson, you really ought to fly into YTZ on Porter if you're coming from NY, Chicago, Boston or uh, Myrtle Beach until things settle down (if you haven't already bought your tickets).
posted by setanor at 10:09 PM on December 27, 2009


I hope we return to sea-based intercontinental travel. Long, contemplative transits; dinners with the ship's captain; intrigue and mystery as everyone reveals, or hides, their reason for travel during such times; and jihadist u-boats prowling the seas for infidel tonnage!

/agathachristie
posted by cowbellemoo at 10:13 PM on December 27, 2009 [17 favorites]


From the link Sidhedevil posted:

"Even if you're sick, you have to pay respect to what the flight crew is saying," said Robert Ficano, Wayne County chief executive.

Obviously, they don't care what bodily fluids are coming out of what orifices for whatever reason you WILL stay in your seat. I guess ... puke, poop, and piss to your heart's content during that last hour everybody!
posted by Orb at 10:27 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Obviously, they don't care what bodily fluids are coming out of what orifices for whatever reason you WILL stay in your seat. I guess ... puke, poop, and piss to your heart's content during that last hour everybody!

I see a new business opportunity for marketing in-flight diapers:

Your nation's security Depends on you!
posted by amyms at 11:12 PM on December 27, 2009 [13 favorites]


"Flyer, flyer, pants on fire!"

You can have that for free.
posted by Artw at 11:31 PM on December 27, 2009


[Quote:]
Two men thought to have been acting suspicious aboard a flight bound for Phoenix were detained and questioned by federal anti-terrorism authorities before they were released, the FBI said Sunday.
The definition of suspicious these days:
1. Two men were speaking a foreign language,
2. One man was watching “The Kingdom” on DVD,
3. And another man got out of his seat while the seatbelt sign was lit,

Feel safer yet?
posted by DreamerFi at 11:43 PM on December 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


for those of you thinking this will blow over soon, after the sarin attack in Tokyo in '95, Japan removed most public garbage cans. They were just starting to come back in 2001. Now, eight years later, there are usually garbage cans in train stations again, but sometimes on the platform, sometimes near the exit, with no seeming rhyme or reason. If you manage to find a garbage can on the street, most likely it will be overflowing, as it's the only one around.

The garbage cans were in response to an attack which had nothing to do with garbage cans. It took about 6 years to begin to relax the restrictions, and then the second something happened (no matter how unrelated or far away), bam, gone again. The only people who actually have to deal with it are regular people who take the trains, who walk around the city. The people who make the rules are likely to have to deal with the consequences. If they do nothing, people yell at them, so they do something, just for the sake of doing it, no matter how little it helps.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:03 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Love Obama's response: Figuring out what went wrong and fixing it. Fucking revolutionary. Beats the hell out of an impromptu statment from the golf course "calling on all nations to stop these terrorist killers and then telling the press "now watch this drive" while firing it down the fairway.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:35 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Some blogs seem to be circulating a copy of the official TSA security directive that was sent to the airlines. It's pretty hilarious -- patdowns and searches for everyone! It does say that it expires December 30 but I expect there will be a new directive at that time to replace it.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:15 AM on December 28, 2009


I still want to know how many people carrying any kind of explosive device have been caught by the security procedures: do this guy and the shoe bomber represent one in a hundred bombers successfully caught? Or a thousand? Or a million? Or if they've caught none, and the only way we find out about these attempts is when they try (and, let it be noted, invariably fail) to set off a bomb, surely that means that rather than security needing to be heightened, it simply proves that it doesn't work at all.
posted by Grangousier at 4:12 AM on December 28, 2009


Solon and thanks: ...Yeah, what? Aren't you in London, city of hundreds of thousands of television cameras watching you everywhere you go?


I can't speak for Mutant, but I've lived in London for six years and those cameras? They really don't have any effect on my life one way or the other. I don't like the fact that they exist, I don't like the thinking behind them, but they are basically totally ineffectual.

On the other hand, the US is undoubtably the worst country I've flown into, or through. (For example, if your flight stops over in LA or SF on the way to New Zealand or elsewhere, you have to clear security, be fingerprinted and photographed, and then turn around and go straight back airside. There's no point to this - you enter US territory for the few minutes it takes you to clear security then go back again and wait for your plane to refuel - you never enter the airport itself). Add to that the general air of unpleasantness and incompetence that characterizes a US airport, and I do my very best to ensure I never fly via the US).
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:23 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


All's I know is 2 years ago a 4 oz container of exquisite Italian sun lotion SPF 25, purchased a few months prior in Sicily by me, seal unbroken, and just waiting to jump into my beach tote once I arrived in Belize, was horribly and violently confiscated from me at Newark. I still have not recovered. Clearly, I should have strapped it to my inner thigh.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:27 AM on December 28, 2009


Does anyone know if it's just people trying to fly into the US, or if security is just as tight for flights out?
posted by Phire at 4:38 AM on December 28, 2009


Well, I've got an account (self-link, duh) of what it's like to try to fly into the US right now. That TSA directive is totally on the ball. I got TWO pat-downs!

(TL;DR - Prepare to be frisked. And bored. Don't bring a lot in your carry on because it ALL has to go in the overheads.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:16 AM on December 28, 2009


Yay for security theater. Because of this dude now they're saying that on international flights for the final hour before landing all passengers must remain in their seats (no restroom) with nothing covering their lap and with absolutely no electronic devices.

YUP. TOTALLY, TOTALLY TRUE. No nothing. No electronic devices. My partner was told to put his magazines away because they covered too much of his lap. I was allowed to keep my small paperback book, but it was a huge pain in the ass for everyone to put ALL of their carry ons in the overhead.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:20 AM on December 28, 2009


So what happens if you get up to use the lavatory in the last hour of the flight? Do the stewardesses attempt to physically restrain you?

They warn you far, far ahead of time that they'll be doing this. They tell you when you board that you will need to remain in your seat with the seatbelt fastened and no carry-on items for the last hour. And yes, if you try to get up, a stewardess directs you back to your seat and it's pretty obvious that they will arrest/detain you upon your arrival if you don't sit your ass back down.

(Yeah, I was already out of the country and had tickets to come back and had absolutely no choice about flying yesterday.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:27 AM on December 28, 2009


I'm not going to keep a 3 year old from using the damn lav. Because that's stupid.

Yeah, but the stewardess will. They literally took candy from babies. I saw it. They didn't enjoy doing it, obviously, and they were very apologetic, but there was absolutely no wiggle room on this "last hour you are in your seats" business, even for three year olds.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:30 AM on December 28, 2009


(Sorry for posting in chunks, I'm at work and there have been acts of terrorism involving Cheerios that keep me from being able to read anything in one sitting. I have already cleaned up a toxic waste spill and re-clothed a small child.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:31 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Love Obama's response: Figuring out what went wrong and fixing it. Fucking revolutionary.

Heh. The only difference between Obama's and Bush's response is that you believe Obama's statements.
posted by smackfu at 5:35 AM on December 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


So it's come to this. We're going to need a "right to shit" amendment to the U.S. constitution. The civil disobedience part of this er.. movement is going to be ugly, but I'm prepared to do my part. The good thing is that everyone is automatically an activist. Every day you can stand up to The Man and tell him, "you can have my poo when you pry it from my cold [something something]". Still working on the speeches. I think I'm more cut out for the poo-production side of things, not the speachification.
posted by Humanzee at 5:38 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


but there was absolutely no wiggle room on this "last hour you are in your seats" business, even for three year olds.

I bet there'll be a lot of wiggle room if you start wiggling the 3 year old's naked butt in the attendant's general direction.
posted by qvantamon at 5:39 AM on December 28, 2009


It's so very MetaFilter that there isn't a post about someone getting through security with a bomb

Pedantry ahoy: A bomb is a thing that can BLOW SHIT UP.
posted by cillit bang at 5:41 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]



Solon and Thanks -- "Yeah, what? Aren't you in London, city of hundreds of thousands of television cameras watching you everywhere you go?"

Well, hundreds of thousands of cameras is a gross exaggeration; there are only 10K publicly funded cameras in London. Even if we assume another 10K exist that are privately funded, we're still far, far short of even one hundred thousand cameras.

Regardless, cameras focused on the street don't bother me any more than a law enforcement official watching me from across the road does.

Still the point remains that the entire thirteen years I've lived abroad I've watched as America has drifted slowly to the right. And I don't think folks living there have much perspective, they don't realise just how far to the right America is these days, especially so when compared to other democratic nations.

Interesting story: in 2003 I was working a lot in The Middle East. I distinctly recall leaving an airport in Incirlik, Turkey, a few hundred klicks from one of the topical hot spots of the day. The boarding gate security inspection was almost non existent, they were only x-raying every third bag or so. A lot of their screening was driven initially by profiles and secondarily by your behaviour during a face to face interview. Get fidgety and they'd spend more time with you, and you'd probably be talking to more than one member of security staff. Act too damn nervous and you weren't flying that day, it was as simple as that.

Very similar procedures to those employed by the Israeli airline security staff.

Well you know about a week later I had to head to New York. Leaving JFK was reminiscent of the time I got locked up in Rikers Island (a misunderstanding, but still you're gonna get screened) for the invasiveness, nastiness and and all around poor attitudes of the security staff.

Every damn bag I had was opened and inspected, personal goods pawed (my toothbrush - are you serious?), phones had to be proven to work, I had to power cycle my Mac twice and let some worker drone "screen" the home dir (for what I have no idea and just how through a "screening" she could do in about three minutes while I watched her fumble about, well, you be the judge).

One would have been forgiven for thinking The United States was at war with our neighbour to the north, Canada.

I've had similar experiences when working in Sub Saharan Africa. Security screening was a very laid back affair, unless you happen to press the right (wrong) button. And then they're all over you.

No, I'd suggest this is an American problem.

I'm from the generation that was raised to believe America was supposed to be showing the rest of the world the way.

And this overreaction, this clear suspension of personal liberties isn't the way.
posted by Mutant at 5:44 AM on December 28, 2009 [7 favorites]


I bet there'll be a lot of wiggle room if you start wiggling the 3 year old's naked butt in the attendant's general direction.

Honestly? They'd just arrest and detain YOU at the gate. They are totally, totally serious about this shit. That can not be emphasized enough. I didn't dare take photos of the amount of security, but they wouldn't let us off the plane without checking passports. Maybe they'll calm down about this eventually, but right now?

There was a 19 mo. old baby sitting directly behind me. His parents asked if he could hold onto the toy he had been playing with - no. The flight attendant was very apologetic, but they would not bend the rule. Nor were the parents allowed to give him a bottle for landing. He was pretty miserable.

Again, the flight attendants weren't getting off on this. They were really stressed out and apologetic and pretty miserable about it. They very politely explained the circumstances to every passenger who asked "Well, WHY can't I have my stuff?!"

Also, the atmosphere was such that the passengers were pretty complacent, if grumpy. If you'd started trying to wave your kid's butt around, I think that your fellow passengers would get pretty insistent that you just sit down, shut up, and stop making a bad situation worse.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:44 AM on December 28, 2009


And I don't think folks living there have much perspective, they don't realise just how far to the right America is these days, especially so when compared to other democratic nations.

Politely disagree. I'm American and realize exactly how stupid our security procedures are and how stupidly terrified we are of everything. Of course, I spend a decent amount of time abroad - so perhaps I have more perspective of something, but I've noticed exactly how far to the right we've drifted over the past ten years.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:46 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Pedantry ahoy: A bomb is a thing that can BLOW SHIT UP.

Thanks for the warning. Pedant is right!
posted by smackfu at 5:47 AM on December 28, 2009


Also, should mention, at that last hour mark - you're totally allowed to get up, use the bathroom, etc. You're totally encouraged to do so. So, if you have a kid or a personal need, you are allowed to get yourself situated and back in your seat. You CAN get up and go to the bathroom when the flight attendant says "Ok, you need to get in your seats and put your carry on items away for the last hour of the flight." At that point, you CAN go to the bathroom. It is not like "Zomg! Last hour! You must FREEZE RIGHT NOW!"
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:48 AM on December 28, 2009


Don't worry, should the right to shit amendment pass they already have a template for how to handle it with the free speech zones. Imagine a boot stamping on a guy wearing his Flight Depends, forever.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:54 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Security restrictions literally drove me to drive the 1,000+ mile trip to my folks twice a year. I love that I can now get there in one day after only 12 1/2 to 13 hrs of straight driving. I enjoy this so much more than the crap that traveling on an airplane presents.
posted by Atreides at 6:18 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]



I'm not going to keep a 3 year old from using the damn lav. Because that's stupid.

Yeah, but the stewardess will.


Actually, jnaps IS a flight attendant...and I'd love to hear more from her.

Wondering if they'll start doing brisk sales in adult diapers at terminals now. And wondering at the wealthy, worldly Nigerian scion whose own father called him in as a threat (and who must be second-guessing ever sending him abroad)...and shaking my head at an alleged Al Quaeda groupie who chooses Detroit--one of the largest, most vibrant Muslim communities in America--as his target destination.
posted by availablelight at 6:18 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


This is so great. I have a thousand dollar deposit on a trip in March that I have to pay off before the new year, or eat. Now I'm having a hard time looking forward to my fucking vacation.

Thanks a lot, TSA.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:23 AM on December 28, 2009


Just another cudgel in the airlines' bottomless arsenal with which to whallop hapless travelers. Haven't flown in 4 years, as cascading failures and stunning incompetence at every level have me resorting to other means of transit. This knee-jerk, reactionary nonsense is a complete farce and does nothing to bolster security.

In terms of annoyance level, I'd much prefer to have a drill sergeant 6 inches away from my face shouting "asshole" over and over while I'm forced to watch Transformers 2 at top volume than deal with the inanity of the TSA and the airlines.
posted by porn in the woods at 6:39 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Love Obama's response: Figuring out what went wrong and fixing it."

I've noticed that when the government does something a person doesn't like - say: filing a legal brief that likens gay marriage to incest - we're quickly reminded of how the agencies are still full of Bush appointees, you can't change things overnight, ponies and unicorns, etc.

But when the government does something a person does like, they imagine Obama leaning back in his chair in the Oval Office, squinting critically at a piece of paper, making a reasoned but firm decision, then telling someone "Get it done."
posted by Joe Beese at 6:41 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've noticed

Confirmation bias.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:13 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


Still the point remains that the entire thirteen years I've lived abroad I've watched as America has drifted slowly to the right. And I don't think folks living there have much perspective, they don't realise just how far to the right America is these days, especially so when compared to other democratic nations.

I think your perspective is too short. I've lived overseas, on and off, for a bit over 20 years now. Trust me, back in the 1980s, it was us pointing fingers at security arrangements in Europe, not the other way around. And two or three decades previous to that, back when Europe was being forced to let its colonies go, things looked different still.

The rightward drift is somewhat real (though more nuanced than it might look); the inane security theater is exactly the same silliness that brought the UK its Big Brother cameras.
posted by Forktine at 7:13 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not to worried about air security. I'm taking a Conestoga wagon from Indiana to London next year. They can have my buggy whip when they pry it from my cold, dead hand. Horses can swim, right?

At least I won't have to wedge my fat ass into a seat designed for a petite 13 year old girl.

Why don't these terrorist wannabes set off their bombs in the lavatory?
posted by double block and bleed at 7:19 AM on December 28, 2009


soo this whole Meta was a way to avoid getting slammed for posting a crappy FPP in the blue right? "Cause we now have our terror newsfilterpost with over 100 comments, all without actually having to post anything... well... relevant.


And Joe, I hope you aren't excluding yourself with that observation.
posted by edgeways at 7:25 AM on December 28, 2009


There are some pretty good links posted in here. It's tempting to make a post about it.
posted by smackfu at 7:38 AM on December 28, 2009


Well, hundreds of thousands of cameras is a gross exaggeration; there are only 10K publicly funded cameras in London. Even if we assume another 10K exist that are privately funded, we're still far, far short of even one hundred thousand cameras.

My bad - that's what I get for getting my figure from wikipedia, which says 500,00 (cited to a sketchy organization.)

Regardless, cameras focused on the street don't bother me any more than a law enforcement official watching me from across the road does.

Okay, if you say so... but I don't really see how "this questionable violation of liberties doesn't make my life any harder on average, I don't care" means Londoners are more proactive and less passive about preventing this sort of thing than Americans.

Just because your security theater isn't inconvenient to you doesn't mean it's nonexistent.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:45 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


My dad told me once that he found it easier getting into North Korea as a foreigner than the US as a citizen.
posted by bettafish at 7:46 AM on December 28, 2009


edgeways: " Joe, I hope you aren't excluding yourself with that observation"

Obama said, "The buck stops with me."

So I have no complaint with Ironmouth giving Obama credit for the government's reaction to this incident - regardless of how little Obama may have had to do with it. [Even though it seems that most of the commenters in this thread think that reaction cynical and/or stupid.] I'm only pointing out that he can't have it both ways.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:49 AM on December 28, 2009


> Anyways, we're not your dancing monkey.

Speak for yourself. I am, in fact, granted's dancing monkey.
posted by languagehat at 7:58 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


My dad told me once that he found it easier getting into North Korea as a foreigner than the US as a citizen.

He also told you he didn't have sexual relations with that woman.
posted by gman at 8:09 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Why no airplane terrorist post? I assumed it was because Jessamyn et al got sick of deleting all the "dude tried to blow up his balls!" posts, myself.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 8:25 AM on December 28, 2009


Grapefruitmoon - any idea of mamas can breastfeed during the last hour? (The no bottle thing is so insanely inhumane considering the pressure increase in those little ears during landing!)
posted by serazin at 8:33 AM on December 28, 2009


I've noticed that when the government does something a person doesn't like - say: filing a legal brief that likens gay marriage to incest - we're quickly reminded of how the agencies are still full of Bush appointees, you can't change things overnight, ponies and unicorns, etc.But when the government does something a person does like, they imagine Obama leaning back in his chair in the Oval Office, squinting critically at a piece of paper, making a reasoned but firm decision, then telling someone "Get it done."

That's because the litigation positions of the US government are not policy decisions. I suggest you stop listening to Glenn Greenwald, who distorts the facts and refuses to answer my direct questions on the subject while sending ranty replies that avoid my question.

Here are the facts: The federal government is sued thousands and thousands of times per year. Obama and his staff cannot review every filing the government makes in these cases. Greenwald is fully aware of these facts but never divulges them to his readers.

These litigation decisions are made by lawyers and their supervisors whose job it is to win these cases and stop the government from paying out the money demanded. Attributing these decisions to Obama is like attributing the snap count called by the quarterback to the team's owner. In a sense the guy is responsible in that somebody three levels down picked the QB, but the owner really can't influence what the snap count is.

Greenwald never tells you this. He also fails to inform you that a neutral federal judge looks over every single assertion of privilege and reviews all the privileged material to determine if it is a valid assertion of priviledge according to the law. Greenwald calmly forgets to tell you that part.

So I called him out on it. We engage in an E-mail convo, lawyer to lawyer. And guess what! He refuses to even answer my criticisms. He rants and rants about unrelated things, exactly what a bad litigator does when caught being untruthful.

I'd stop listening to him.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:52 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Glad that no one posted this. I spent a half hour or so watching CNN coverage on Christmas day, while roasting pork and waiting for company, and I never saw so much nothing. There isn't much of a story there, and by now any post would have been in 'security theater/Israel/locked cockpit doors/lolcrazytsaamirite territory.
posted by fixedgear at 9:00 AM on December 28, 2009


Ironmouth: " I suggest you stop listening to Glenn Greenwald, who distorts the facts and refuses to answer my direct questions on the subject while sending ranty replies that avoid my question."

I was going to ask what Greenwald has to do with this - since, as best I can tell, you are the only person who has mentioned him in this thread. But then the second half of your sentence sort of cleared that up.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on December 28, 2009


Ok.

HEADLINE : Ineffective Watch-List Mechanism Known to Be Useless, Is Useless

Happy now?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:13 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Grapefruitmoon - any idea of mamas can breastfeed during the last hour?

I would certainly hope so, but I only saw the one little guy without his toy. (He may have actually had a bottle, I don't know, but there were issues about whether or not that was ok.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:14 AM on December 28, 2009


It's tempting to make a post about it

I know, right? I've been looking at Nigera and its ties to terrorism and the use oooh turkey pancakes, gotta go!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:14 AM on December 28, 2009


Also, WTF is it lately with people who think, "Well, it's all over the news, so it HAS to be on MeFi."

No. Wrong. Fail. Bad. Go away. MeFi is not your own personal newsreader. If you really want to talk about something THAT BADLY, and there's no discussion site where you can go and talk about it, WHY NOT GO OUT AND MAKE SOME GODDAMN FRIENDS. Stop relying on us to be your personal sounding board for mundane news items, jeez.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:15 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


These litigation decisions are made by lawyers and their supervisors whose job it is to win these cases and stop the government from paying out the money demanded. Attributing these decisions to Obama is like attributing the snap count called by the quarterback to the team's owner. In a sense the guy is responsible in that somebody three levels down picked the QB, but the owner really can't influence what the snap count is.
If that's their understanding of what their job is, they should be fired. The job of the Justice Department is not to automatically defend every action of the present or past administrations, nor individual members. Taken from their website:
  To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States
  according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign
  and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and
  controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful
  behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice
  for all Americans.
It's further a dishonest statement, because you're pretending that a handful of lawsuits where past prisoners are suing high-ranking members of the Bush administration for torture somehow blends into the background of other cases. The president himself gets asked about these cases by reporters. The attorney general must personally approve of the use of States Secrets in a case. So these decisions are being made at a high level.

And frankly, you need to get over your Glenn Greenwald obsession. You're constantly bringing him up when he hasn't been mentioned.
posted by Humanzee at 9:15 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


I will feel bad for everyone affected, but I hope that within the next couple days the "no toilets during the last hour" rule is met with a case of airline food poisoning that results in a shit-storm of nasty. It is a stupid, useless rule and it'll take an incident like that to get rid of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


WHY NOT GO OUT AND MAKE SOME GODDAMN FRIENDS. Stop relying on us to be your personal sounding board for mundane news items, jeez.

Wow. I thought SF was supposed to be mellow.
posted by smackfu at 9:17 AM on December 28, 2009


Yeah, you know, I guess I've already blown my karma in this thread with my usual over-the-top bombast, but I really would like it if one of the mods were to weigh in on this. I always thought that reflexive newsfilter posting fell under the category of "unavoidable, but tolerated" and not "should be encouraged."
posted by Afroblanco at 9:20 AM on December 28, 2009


Just because your security theater isn't inconvenient to you doesn't mean it's nonexistent.

The Orwellian traffic cameras don't really seem to impact anyone negatively at all though, except for a few people upset about the congestion charge. If the ineffective security crap at airports was as ignorable as that I'd have no problem with it.
posted by Artw at 9:21 AM on December 28, 2009


five fresh fish: "... I hope that within the next couple days the "no toilets during the last hour" rule is met with a case of airline food poisoning that results in a shit-storm of nasty. It is a stupid, useless rule and it'll take an incident like that to get rid of it"

Now that we've progressed from figurative to literal pants-shitting, I'd say the War on Terror is being lost.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:22 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Stop relying on us to be your personal sounding board for mundane news items, jeez

Does this blog post make my head look fat?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


The Orwellian traffic cameras don't really seem to impact anyone negatively at all though, except for a few people upset about the congestion charge. If the ineffective security crap at airports was as ignorable as that I'd have no problem with it.

Yeah, I totally understand and agree with "this is so stupid it makes everything so much more difficult and doesn't HELP anything!"

I don't understand the "fascism! american fascism!" calls. Fascism is fascism regardless of how inconvenient (or easy) it makes life for you.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:48 AM on December 28, 2009


The fascism aspect usually comes from giving some dim witted twerp a hint of power, a badge and a gun and telling them they are something more than a glorified mall cop.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on December 28, 2009


FWIW, yeah, it was unusual that this event did not attract a post.
posted by Artw at 9:50 AM on December 28, 2009


I really would like it if one of the mods were to weigh in on this.

I think every single one of us doesn't really enjoy the "hey something big and newsy happened, here's a post about it!" part of MeFi. That said, it is not our site. Many people seem to like these sorts of posts and unless they're single link op-ed or single link outragefilter, they usually get to stay.

This is one of those situations where MeFi-at-it-actually-is varies possibly the most from MeFi-as-I-would-want-it-if-I-ran-the-world. I dislike newsfilter posts personally, think they bring out the worst aspects of the site, think they're often lazy and/or fighty posts to begin with and I rarely read them. Again, however, it's not my site. That said, we may see a sort of backlash effect where we leave those posts more often than delete them because we know we all have a sort of mild dislike for them generally and so try to compensate for our own personal biases.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:54 AM on December 28, 2009


I'm so happy for people who can chose not to travel in and out of the US and that will never do it again because of the TSA security theatre crap. Meanwhile, there are some of us that have to travel in and out of the US for both business and personal reasons. I can't speak for everyone else, but for me every attempted terrorist strike (for want of a much better term) means more bullshit for me every few months, and there's nothing I can do about it. I sigh and move on. I'm sure it'll get worse and worse, but what annoys me more than the TSA bullshit is people who hardly ever fly in/out of the US bitching about security theater forcing them to draw a line in the sand and how they'll never do it again.
posted by ob at 9:55 AM on December 28, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm so happy for people who can chose not to travel in and out of the US and that will never do it again because of the TSA security theatre crap. Meanwhile, there are some of us that have to travel in and out of the US for both business and personal reasons. I can't speak for everyone else, but for me every attempted terrorist strike (for want of a much better term) means more bullshit for me every few months, and there's nothing I can do about it. I sigh and move on. I'm sure it'll get worse and worse, but what annoys me more than the TSA bullshit is people who hardly ever fly in/out of the US bitching about security theater forcing them to draw a line in the sand and how they'll never do it again.

WORD. QFMFT.

My partner is Portuguese. Save for moving each and every one of his family members into our bathroom, we're going to have to keep flying. Or get a bigger bathroom. Hell, his best friend is getting married in June, and unless we can convince all of them that they'd really rather do that in the US and make THEM go through security theatre, we're going to have to fly again in a mere six months.

And I'm actually thrilled that we are lucky and privileged enough to have first world problems such as "Wahhh, I don't like that TSA is rifling through my luggage" as opposed to problems such as not being able to afford to see our families or not being able to take time off of work to travel.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:01 AM on December 28, 2009 [3 favorites]


Who knows, maybe someone at TSA has been reading Bruce Schneier's writing and will realize that instituting yet another Thing™ isn't really the best idea and this madness will only be temporary.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:07 AM on December 28, 2009


I will feel bad for everyone affected, but I hope that within the next couple days the "no toilets during the last hour" rule is met with a case of airline food poisoning that results in a shit-storm of nasty.

airplane 3 - the enema strikes back!
posted by pyramid termite at 10:13 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assuming a functional pair of exploding underpants what actually would be a workable security precaution against it?
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on December 28, 2009


If that's their understanding of what their job is, they should be fired. The job of the Justice Department is not to automatically defend every action of the present or past administrations, nor individual members. Taken from their website:

To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States
according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign
and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and
controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful
behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice
for all Americans.

It's further a dishonest statement, because you're pretending that a handful of lawsuits where past prisoners are suing high-ranking members of the Bush administration for torture somehow blends into the background of other cases. The president himself gets asked about these cases by reporters. The attorney general must personally approve of the use of States Secrets in a case. So these decisions are being made at a high level.


The government never bends over and just takes it in civil suits. I have never seen it. Ever. I do some work in a related field. They settle, but they never just hand over the money. Should they? Why?

The job of the Justice Department is not to automatically defend every action of the present or past administrations, nor individual members. Taken from their website:

To enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States
according to the law


Those two statements are incompatable. It is the job of the Justice Department to automatically defend every action of the government if it is sued. It rarely declines to represent an individual government employee in these cases. Almost never--only when it is also bringing criminal charges.

The attorney general must personally approve of the use of States Secrets in a case.

Yes. A good thing, no? Who instituted that policy? Why Barack Obama did.

Having said that, if the government has got a super duper phone listening device which it is using in foreign intelligence operations, should that be revealed to help one litigant who wants $1 in damages in a suit designed merely to embarass the government. Assuming a hypothetical of Bush having used it against US citizens and Obama having stopped it, doesn't it still make sense to keep the machine a secret, especially when there are no damages?

It's further a dishonest statement, because you're pretending that a handful of lawsuits where past prisoners are suing high-ranking members of the Bush administration for torture somehow blends into the background of other cases.

Actually, I'm not at all pretending those are at all different. They aren't. I can tell you with certainty (can't tell you why), that the Administration isn't involved in everyday calls in those cases. It can't be. How could the lawyers get their jobs done.

You have to look at the jurisprudence on these issues to understand. These lawsuits are known as Bivens suits after a case granting a limited implied right of action in situations where constitutional rights have been violated. There are plenty of scenarios where it can be found that no constitutional rights existed for the parties in question, even if they were mistreated. The government has a strong interest in defending those cases because its long-term interest, above and beyond the few individuals here, requires that the position be defended. Should enemy soldiers in a conventional war be granted constitutional rights? Is being shot by a US soldier a situation where a party has constitutional rights? The decisions in these cases directly affect those types of things.

Second, there is a powerful principle that the government must defend. It is called qualified immunity. Every law enforcement officer, indeed, every government employee is covered by this principle. It says that if you are doing your job correctly and you can prove it, you are protected. It also says that if the situation is unclear on whether or not there is a vested constitutional right, the officer of the government is immune from suit.

Why is this important? Because these government officials are themselves personally on the line in these situations. They can't do their jobs constantly concerned about guessing whether or not the fact pattern they are in means they can get sued or not. Can you imagine doing your everyday job like that? Not fun and causes people to not do their job right.

So they work to defend those suits.

As for the high-level part, we don't know who ordered what. Under our law (Again, I've done these types of cases before), there is no negligent supervision for Bivens actions. So we have to have a direct order on the torture. No direct order, no responsibility. That's what the law says--I've done these types of cases. (Section 1983 does have those, but only applies to local and state authorities and is a positive enactment, not an implied right of action.)

I'm not saying these decisions by the government are right or wrong, I haven't seen the fact patterns and I don't know. What I am saying is that our evaluation of what is going on has to take into account that there are competing interests here. Which you are not doing at all.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I dislike newsfilter posts personally, think they bring out the worst aspects of the site, think they're often lazy and/or fighty posts to begin with and I rarely read them.

I think a thread about this event would have had value. I think newsfilter threads often have value. I was happy to read grapefruitmoon's comments in this thread; my social circle didn't happen to include anyone travelling internationally by air this weekend, and I was happy to learn what it was like. I also really enjoyed smackfu's link, with testimony from the passenger. These comments would likely have been part of a thread.

I guess that I don't see classes of posts are problematic-some people don't like youtube posts, some people don't like newsfilter, some people don't like obits. I didn't join for a long while after, but Metafilter's 9/11 thread is what first brought me to the site. In my opinion, it's some of the best of what Metafilter has had to offer. It's also the newsiest of newsfilter. Bad newsfilter posts are bad; good ones are good. Bad x posts are bad; good ones are good.
posted by Kwine at 10:27 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Look, nobody's saying that every news story is inherently worthless. I just don't think that "it's being talked about everywhere else, why isn't it on Metafilter?" is good logic; in fact I think it's antithetical to the mission of the site, if it can be said to have one.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:42 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I say we do away with airport screening altogether.

Terrorism works at least in part because the terrorists want to remind us that no matter what fancy new security measures we put in place, they will find a way around it and strike fear into our hearts.

If they are determined to blow up planes, then they'll find a way to do it. Then we all go crazy and make flying wearing clothes illegal and then they blow up planes with bombs in their anal cavities and suddenly we all have to have an enema in the Delta waiting lounge. Our lives get miserable and they keep blowing up planes.

So why not just thrown in the towel? The first two or three planes will suck, but then we'll get used to it. They may even stop bothering when we stop caring.
posted by jefficator at 11:01 AM on December 28, 2009


Assuming a functional pair of exploding underpants what actually would be a workable security precaution against it?

You could make everyone remove their pants when they go through security screening. At this rate, that wouldn't entirely surprise me. I'm done flying, sort of absolutely having to make an international trip for some reason.
posted by EarBucket at 11:04 AM on December 28, 2009


grapefruitmoon, I cannot believe there was a section of seating on the plane marked "Under Repair".

Please tell me you are joking.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 11:29 AM on December 28, 2009


You could make everyone remove their pants when they go through security screening. At this rate, that wouldn't entirely surprise me.

The fact that they are not doing this, and that they are doing random periods of sitting down as their arbitrary security response, probably indicates that it's a non-starter. It's like the terrorists called the TSA's bluff on that one.

TBH short of T-ray scanners I'm scratching my head on this one.
posted by Artw at 11:39 AM on December 28, 2009


jnaps writes "TSA gave my Captain a pat-down this morning, which should tell you how sharp they are. I mean, if dude wants to crash the plane HE JUST HAS TO AIM AT A FUCKING MOUNTAIN OR SOMETHING HE IS FLYING THE GODDAMN PLANE WHO CARES IF HIS SHOES BEEP?"

Or he could leave a bomb on the plane and set it to explode three flights later when he is well away from the effected area.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't believe the "interests of the United States" and the "interests of the U.S. government" are identical. The Justice Department is supposed to represent the former, not the latter. Canada managed to settle with Arar, while we dismissed his case outright due to state secrets.

The attorney general must personally approve of the use of States Secrets in a case.
Yes. A good thing, no? Who instituted that policy? Why Barack Obama did.

No. Using State Secrets to dismiss a case outright is always a bad thing.

Having said that, if the government has got a super duper phone listening device which it is using in foreign intelligence operations, should that be revealed to help one litigant who wants $1 in damages in a suit designed merely to embarass the government. Assuming a hypothetical of Bush having used it against US citizens and Obama having stopped it, doesn't it still make sense to keep the machine a secret, especially when there are no damages?
No, it makes no sense. If it worked and was legal, Obama wouldn't stop it. If it's not an ongoing program, there's no real reason to deny its existence or refuse to acknowledge the victims. You're assuming there are no damages. Yet this is not clear. For instance, in the past, the FBI spied on Martin Luther King and tried to blackmail him into ceasing anti-war activity. In a republic, state power must be circumscribed and the state must be subject to law. That is precisely why federal spying was reigned in, and why violations of the law must not be kept secret.

To defend yourself you're imagining hypothetical $1 damage cases. There are plenty of specific cases that are far more compelling than your imaginary ones. e.g. Binyam Mohamed, who credibly claims to have been tortured. Yet Justice moved to dismiss the whole case due to state secrets. And this is a case where the interests of the American people are surely served by shedding light on abusive practices approved by the highest members of government. Your silly example of a $1 case is dishonest, because that's not what anyone's complaining about.

Your reading of qualified immunity seems functionally identical to blanket immunity. I don't believe that government officials should have a legal pass to commit atrocities, just because some lawyer said it was legal. I'm perfectly content to say that I wouldn't torture or authorize it, regardless of what some lawyer said. Anyone who doesn't have that minimal level of moral clarity doesn't belong in government. Certainly we hold war criminals from other nations to a higher standard.

What I am saying is that our evaluation of what is going on has to take into account that there are competing interests here. Which you are not doing at all.
I've considered the competing interests and rejected them as either not compelling or outright harmful to democratic government.
posted by Humanzee at 11:43 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


fwiw, reports are now according to QuantumMeruit:

TSA has apparently already modified SD 1544-09-06 as of Monday 28 Dec 2009, and is reportedly (reliably, I might add,) airline crews are being told now by TSA passengers CAN access the lav, and IFE [in-flight-entertainment] is OK, within an hour of landing in the US from international points of departure.

so, uh, continue on.
posted by edgeways at 11:44 AM on December 28, 2009


Maybe they could make people hop on one leg whilst traveling up and down the aisle?
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on December 28, 2009


grapefruitmoon, I cannot believe there was a section of seating on the plane marked "Under Repair".

Please tell me you are joking.


I ONLY WISH. That flight (Alitalia from Boston to Rome) was a nightmare in oh so many ways. The seating was really the least of my concerns, which should give you a hint as to how many concerns I had.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:52 AM on December 28, 2009


TSA has apparently already modified SD 1544-09-06 as of Monday 28 Dec 2009, and is reportedly (reliably, I might add,) airline crews are being told now by TSA passengers CAN access the lav

Very glad to hear it. I know that yesterday, this was not true. Glad to hear that it's been amended.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:55 AM on December 28, 2009


You know, if I had no electronic devices and wasn't allowed to read a book for a sizeable portion of a flight i think I'd welcome having a fight with a terrorist as a way to alleviate the boredom.
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


(I can't promise that I would';t press for the Terrorist being "airlocked" just to "make sure".)
posted by Artw at 11:57 AM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, if I had no electronic devices and wasn't allowed to read a book for a sizeable portion of a flight i think I'd welcome having a fight with a terrorist as a way to alleviate the boredom.

Yes. I wanted (and still do) want to write a letter to the citizen who did this about the boredom he is inflicting on innocent travelers. MAN. That last hour seemed to last almost as long as the previous seven.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:04 PM on December 28, 2009


I don't see why they don't just give us free ambien with every flight. Would probably satisfy all of their security concerns and cure our boredom in one fell swoop.

Sure, there's always pesky problems like ambien hallucinations and sleepfucking, but what are a few conversations with the ambien walrus when HUMAN LIVES ARE AT STAKE?
posted by Afroblanco at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I feel for my fellow passengers as they have to hear my (under five year old) kids screaming and such. I mean, I'm used to it and it doesn't bother me all that much. I'll be trying to quiet them down, but in this kind of strange environment it's quite likely that they'll be uncomfortably loud. Normally part of my plan is to distract them with a book or toy or food. But I can't do that now.

Sorry, guys. I'll do the best I can, but a lot of options have been taken from me.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2009


grapefruitmoon : I'm at work and there have been acts of terrorism involving Cheerios

1.) great album name.

2.) I'm totally picturing suicide bombers with stereotypical British butler mannerisms, just before they press the button, they bid farewell in the most appropriate manner.
posted by quin at 1:08 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]



Or he could leave a bomb on the plane and set it to explode three flights later when he is well away from the effected area.
posted by Mitheral at 2:41 PM on December 28 [1 favorite +] [!]


...TSA, is that you?

Seriously, though, how many times has this happened? Now, how many times has a pilot killed people due, at least partially, to fatigue?

I haven't seen the new rest requirements the FAA proposed months ago pass, or even any coverage in the press. Now, maybe there are some pilots that endured hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, FBI level background checks, furloughs, paycuts, and generally at least one divorce in order to one day plant a remote bomb on a plane.

But most of them just really love to fly, and I'm betting if they kill you it's going to be because some airline exec wants to save money by flying minimally staffed and gave pilots who just flew 16 hours an overnght of 8 (which starts when the plane parks, btw. That generally equals, if you're lucky, 5 hours of actual sleep), and then another long duty day. Add poor weather conditions or a mechanical to that, and you have something just as deadly as a bomb.

That's what worries me the most, when I'm nodding off in the hotel van before we go through security, chugging down my coffee.

And yes, IAAFA; IANYFA.
posted by jnaps at 2:11 PM on December 28, 2009 [9 favorites]

Yes. I wanted (and still do) want to write a letter to the citizen who did this about the boredom he is inflicting on innocent travelers. MAN. That last hour seemed to last almost as long as the previous seven.
Hm. What's the airplane equivalent of leading everyone in a round of "Wheels on the Bus..."?
posted by Karmakaze at 2:16 PM on December 28, 2009


RikiTikiTavi, it'll kind of be like the time Delta took away my dachshund (when dachshunds are outlawed, only terrorists will have dachshunds...etc) in 1998 despite her having a ticket so she could be in the cabin all the way from Munich to Cleveland. A ticket, I should add, that was not cheap.

So, for my fellow travelers on that NYC-Cleveland flight, I apologize again for the fact those evil bastards put her, a tiny wee 6-wk-old puppy, in the hold at the rear of the puddlejumper, where she proceeded to HOWL in the way only a dachshund can for the entire 2 hr flight. So loudly, in fact, that you could hear her over all the engines and over me crying at the front of the plane.

(At least I knew she was still alive as long as she was howling. I STILL won't fly Delta. Asshats).

(Boy, were my parents surprised when I stopped by on my way home from the airport. I went to see my old roommate in Prague and came home with a puppy. I can't even IMAGINE the sort of nonsense you'd have to go through to get her into the country now).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:16 PM on December 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


jnaps writes "I haven't seen the new rest requirements the FAA proposed months ago pass, or even any coverage in the press. Now, maybe there are some pilots that endured hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, FBI level background checks, furloughs, paycuts, and generally at least one divorce in order to one day plant a remote bomb on a plane. "

The recent incident at a US military base shows us that anyone can flip out and start killing people. If you're going to bother screening people for random acts of insanity you should screen everyone.
posted by Mitheral at 2:32 PM on December 28, 2009


To anyone that has flown after the incident: only one carry-on now? Really?
It seems unfair that you can choose to take either your laptop or your bomb with you, but not both.
posted by dg at 3:46 PM on December 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Photojournalist and flying enthusiast Steven Frischling's blog, Flying with Fish has been one of the best resources I've found regarding the recent incident.
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:03 PM on December 28, 2009


you know the terrorists are sitting in their caves just laughing at us right? because they haven't exactly created terror and they haven't killed anyone, but they have created chaos (of a minor variety).

they've made an entire mode of travel absolutely fucking absurd. nothing in your lap? i can't get up to use the bathroom? this is even more fucking ridiculous than not being able to have more than 3oz of liquid on me and having to take off my shoes and shirt before going through the metal detector.

i know it's just airplanes and airports, but like someone upthread said, we're the ones with armed guards in our airports now and it's because the terrorists have won (a minor victory).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 5:15 PM on December 28, 2009


Via the linked Flying With Fish:

As of today, passengers may use the in-flight entertainment, their laptop, a blanket, the lavatory and access their carry-on bags within one hour of arrival.

Seems I flew ONE DAY TOO EARLY. Also seems copy-cat terrorists only act the next day. Whatever.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:00 PM on December 28, 2009


It's been posted now for those who care.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:24 PM on December 28, 2009


And it's going even worse than I would have thought. And worse than this thread went. Might as well kill it.
posted by smackfu at 8:08 PM on December 28, 2009


Trying the clean-it-up thing instead. Here's hoping. Wish it hadn't happened during nominal dinner time, would have been a bit more on it out of the gate.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:18 PM on December 28, 2009


That first comment seems like a classic should-be-deleted threadshit and I am really surprised it is still there, what with the new order and all that.
posted by Rumple at 8:31 PM on December 28, 2009


Whoops, I thought I nixed that one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:49 PM on December 28, 2009


There were some really stupid comments there by people who I thought might know better. Maybe it was just some kind of pressure valve for teh st00pid that has been welling up since the incident.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:51 PM on December 28, 2009


Thanks cortex. Get back to to carving your festivus donuts now.
posted by Rumple at 9:00 PM on December 28, 2009


Why no airplane terrorist post?

Never mind that, what I wanna know is why is there no post on scat singer and musical personality Cab Calloway's older sister Blanche, who was a singer and bandleader herself. Well, I'll tell you: it's because I ain't made it yet. But I'll get around to it.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:23 AM on December 29, 2009 [3 favorites]


newsfilter makes sense when a story matters but isn't widely reported. everyone already knew about this and there was nothing to add.
posted by krautland at 5:17 AM on December 29, 2009


Hey, atomicmedia, please don't go around posting random bottlerocketroll videos in threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 AM on December 29, 2009


TSA gave my Captain a pat-down this morning, which should tell you how sharp they are. I mean, if dude wants to crash the plane HE JUST HAS TO AIM AT A FUCKING MOUNTAIN OR SOMETHING HE IS FLYING THE GODDAMN PLANE WHO CARES IF HIS SHOES BEEP? - jnaps

now I dunno the exact circumstances of this patdown, but do the TSA folks know he's a pilot, or just that he's some guy wearing a pilot's uniform? building exceptions ("pilots don't get a patdown but everyone else does") into a security protocol just makes more places where that protocol can be subverted.

not saying that current airport security is good or useful, just that making exceptions because of what someone is wearing is definitely a bad idea
posted by russm at 9:18 PM on December 29, 2009


TSA gave my Captain a pat-down this morning, which should tell you how sharp they are

Salon's Ask the Pilot covers the same thing where the pilot had his butter knife confiscated. Common sense clearly doesn't enter into this, which is just totally ridiculous.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:19 AM on December 30, 2009


Common sense rarely results in good security. If you've decided, for whatever reason, that a butter knife is a threat to the security of the airplane then you have two choices. Prevent the pilots from bringing the knife on board or track the knife to make sure it is removed with the pilot. The first option is obviously easier as a system is already in place to do so.
posted by Mitheral at 9:07 AM on December 30, 2009


Mitheral, I don't know if you read the Salon post, but the butter knife in question was from the meal kits already on board the plane. Many such knives were ALREADY on the plane, whether or not the pilot added an additional identical knife to their ranks.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 9:29 AM on December 30, 2009


Common sense rarely results in good security.

Pish. What we have here is no sense. We certainly do not have "good security." Let's say we give common sense a try: it sure as hell can't be worse.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on December 30, 2009


Pish. What we have here is no sense. We certainly do not have "good security." Let's say we give common sense a try: it sure as hell can't be worse.

Easier said than done. "Common sense" is a very broad shotgun blast of a term. In a way, "common sense" was used in reaction to the trouser bomb guy. The seemingly kneejerk draconian and ridiculous measure of (temporarily) making everyone remain seated with uncovered laps for the last hour was borne of "common sense". TSA authorities had no real way of knowing if AbdulMutallab was acting alone or in concert with a group of similarly-tasked jihadists. If it was the latter, then that measure was properly aimed at preventing a certain kind of MO rather than just being a hysterical reaction.

But yes, real reform to the screening process needs to be undertaken. It may need to be spurred by a big name outside of government, heading up some kind of populist movement. It's a pretty tangled bowl of knots. What do you suggest?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:00 AM on December 30, 2009


I worry this might go badly, but, the Toronto Star has an article this afternoon about how Israel manages to have high security with low inconvenience. It discusses some differences in procedures, but the main difference seems to be the attitude you can't make a mess out of the travel process in the name of security.
posted by FishBike at 10:25 AM on December 30, 2009


I always sorta assumed TSA were especially resentful towards pilots and probably give them extra hassle, just because they could.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 11:09 AM on December 30, 2009


grapefruitmoon writes "the butter knife in question was from the meal kits already on board the plane. Many such knives were ALREADY on the plane, whether or not the pilot added an additional identical knife to their ranks."

I have no love for the security theatre currently being preformed. But the pilot is expecting the security agent to make a judgment call on the truth of that and set policy (because the pilot would use the pass to brow beat every screener he came across in the future who didn't make the exception) that airline cutlery is OK to pass through. How is the agent supposed to a) determine the truth of that and b) decide when to make an exception. The agent already has a combination of training and policy specifying things not allowed through his station. An exception that will be sure to have the agent pilloried in the press if the pilot is a reporter writing a story. It's a security nightmare for the TSA agents to be making judgment calls like that. And it's annoying for passengers who don't know what will pass any given security agent.

As an aside the pilot comes across in that op-ed as the kind of twit customer service people hate to deal with with a special snowflake entitlement complex to boot. Like the jackasses who argue with gas station attendants over the price of gas or the guy arguing with a meter maid about a parking ticket with the "I pay your salary" line (which he actually uses later on in the piece) his little debate will never do anything because the people he's arguing with have zip, zero, nada power to enact change. What possible gain could there be in getting the screener to admit that the rule makes no sense?

Finally even if the policy makes no sense on strict security analysis it could be considered valid from a training perspective. If you have two rules:
  1. No knives with serrations
  2. No knives with serrations except if they look like one of these hundred or more airline cutlery sets (the pilot states there is enough variation for him to collect them).
#2 is a lot harder to train for than #1 and considering I'm guessing significantly less than one in a thousand people are being inconvenienced by #1 than #2 the choice which way to go is easy.

These Premises Are Alarmed: "I always sorta assumed TSA were especially resentful towards pilots and probably give them extra hassle, just because they could"

If they all have an attitude like this guy when dealing with TSA screeners I imagine that's true in a lot of cases. We loved towing guys with this kind of attitude who would park in snow routes.
posted by Mitheral at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2009


The agent already has a combination of training and policy specifying things not allowed through his station. An exception that will be sure to have the agent pilloried in the press if the pilot is a reporter writing a story.

FFS, where is the reporter (unless the pilot also writes a column in Salon, in which case the agent gets pilloried for not making a common sense exception) going to get PILOT CREDENTIALS? It's not like he get can just put on a pilot uniform and be all "Yeah, I fly a plane."

I know enough about security at airports to know that you do actually have to provide some kind of PROOF that you're actually part of the flight crew and not just well-dressed and wearing a sort of silly hat. If you are a pilot, and you can prove it, it seems pretty reasonable that if you want to kill everyone - as previously mentioned - you're not going to require the aid of a butter knife.

For anybody? Yeah, providing exceptions is a problem. But for an EFFIN PILOT? I really agree with the sentiment that it shouldn't matter if his shoes beep. He's allowed to have a GUN but not a BUTTER KNIFE? No one else can have a gun - but the pilot has one. I think that common sense would indicate that therefore he can also have OTHER things that us plebes don't get. Like butter knives.

Also, I've got no issue with the pilot's tone in his blog. It's his blog. I'm a really chill person in person, but in text boxes? It's LICENSE TO BITCH AND MOAN. Blogger's license, I think it's called. All situations may appear bitchy than they actually are.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2009


grapefruitmoon writes "FFS, where is the reporter (unless the pilot also writes a column in Salon, in which case the agent gets pilloried for not making a common sense exception) going to get PILOT CREDENTIALS? It's not like he get can just put on a pilot uniform and be all 'Yeah, I fly a plane.' "

Pilot and reporter are not mutually exclusive professions. And any pilots with a grievance are free to talk to reporters. Despite common belief investigative journalism isn't solely about reporters in embedded sting operations.

grapefruitmoon writes "If you are a pilot, and you can prove it, it seems pretty reasonable that if you want to kill everyone - as previously mentioned - you're not going to require the aid of a butter knife. "

Security measures aren't just about the pilot taking direct action to kill everyone on the plane. From the point of view that the pilot can kill everyone at any time why bother screening pilots at all? Or any of the flight crew for that matter? But of course the pilot being able to kill everybody on a whim isn't actually the case. The pilot always has a co pilot right beside him. Same with the rest of the crew. Someone I'd think would take measures preventing him from going kamikaze, if only in self defence.

I don't know anything about the details of airport security. I've never read through any meeting minutes to see why procedures are in place and the people in charge seem to be operating under the delusion of effective security via obscurity so the though process isn't very clear to me at all. I do know that in IT we erect security road blocks that user wail and moan about and actively try to circumvent (I'm looking at you mister I'll just change my password 25 times in a row to get past the requirement for not reusing the same password pair over and over). The reasons for certain controls often only make sense as either a tiny cog of a big machine or as one of several layers of controls. Or as a reaction to a past event. Or as an over reaction to a past event. Maybe the latter is what the no serrated knives policy is but, and this is the key part, arguing with the minimum wage low level worker about the implementation of that policy and attempting to get them to make statements that disagree with that policy make you a jerk. Playing the "these people should do what I want because I pay their salary" card shows your entitlement. Honestly I'm surprised the author didn't try to publicly shame the screener and the supervisor by printing their names so I guess we should be thankful for that restraint (or the restraint of his editor).

grapefruitmoon writes "Also, I've got no issue with the pilot's tone in his blog. It's his blog. I'm a really chill person in person, but in text boxes? It's LICENSE TO BITCH AND MOAN. Blogger's license, I think it's called. All situations may appear bitchy than they actually are."

I can see that. An article in an on going column in Salon is a bit different from a live journal page though.
posted by Mitheral at 8:12 AM on December 31, 2009


Pilot and reporter are not mutually exclusive professions. And any pilots with a grievance are free to talk to reporters.

Right. And this pilot was also a reporter reporting on the total lack of common sense on the part of TSA. Your "Oh, he had to keep the butter knife in case there was a reporter saying AHA! you let a butter knife through!" statement is completely bogus because he was a reporter. Reporting on how keeping an object that is already on the plane off of the plane is precisely like trying to teach a pig to sing - wastes your time and annoys the pig.

I'm not saying pilots should be able to do whatever they want. What I'm trying to advocate is that TSA agents be given the leeway necessary to make actual informed decisions instead of following robotic mandates. Like letting pilots carry butter knives. And letting small children hold on to the toys they had in their hands 62 minutes before landing. Things like that. Blind compliance isn't helping, and I know that part of that is that the screeners and flight attendants need to do their jobs - I think that their jobs should allow for a teeny wee bit more flexibility because the "EVERYONE IS A TERRORIST" stance isn't actually stopping actual terrorists.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:52 AM on December 31, 2009


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