Green Means Fly


Airline passengers will soon be color-coded to improve security.

"This system is going to be replete with errors. You could be falsely arrested. You could be delayed. You could lose your ability to travel," Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program, tells The Washington Post.

Wheels up!

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  1. Not to mention that it's yet another incentive for identity theft.

  2. First, as Eric pointed out, nobody will ever succeed in hijacking another flight in this country. So none of this matters anyway.

    Prior to the Challenger disaster, NASA insisted that their safety precautions were fine, and that there was nothing wrong with the shuttle's booster rockets. Their proof? None of the shuttles had ever blown up. "It hasn't happened, ergo it won't" is the single stupidest approach to safety/security issues that you can possibly take.

    The passengers on flight 93 fought back because they knew they were going to die -- they knew about the World Trade Center, and according to some reports the hijackers told them they were all going to die. If a group of hijackers assured the passengers that they would be released safely, that they only wanted (for example) to demand that the United States agree to new peace talks in the Middle East -- would enough of the passengers be brave enough to fight back? Past events suggest the answer to that question is an almost-definite "no". Most, if not all, of those who fight back -- especially the first few -- are going to wind up seriously injured or dead. Would you make the almost-certain sacrifice of your own life to save a planeload of strangers if you weren't virtually certain you were doomed anyway? I don't think that I would; I think that, like most humans, I would cling to the hope that the terrorists were telling the truth. Look at WW2 German death camps -- most of the prisoners would have had a better chance of if they had all fought back. The guards were, after all, significantly outnumbered, guns or no. Yet this never successfully happened.

    so we stop the intensive searches.

    Even assuming that you were correct -- and you're not -- about hijacking planes being impossible now, you've conveniently forgotten that they can still be easily crashed or blown up by a determined, armed passenger. Heavy security is necessary, and I'd rather it be intelligent, targetted security than blind, dumb security.

  3. It seems to me that what we need to be focusing on is, what form any subsequent attacks may take. I hope that somewhere there is a think tank that is evaluating this. The majority of the money used to pay rude security inspectors should be diverted to figuring out likely modes of future attacks. It doesn't do us any good to screen passengers on airlines while Osama is loading a freighter full of fertilizer and ball bearings.

    Has anyone ever heard of any part of the government "brainstorming" how to attack us most affectively? First step is to be smarter than your enemy.

    Although I think the likelihood of future attacks taking the hijack form is not very high I still think we need security. Saying that it will never happen again is to leave an opening. Keep in mind that the plane that went down in Pennsylvania went down. The terrorists didn't succeed in their mission due to some very brave and heroic people. However they don't get to sign a movie deal.

    As far as the security on flights why can't we look at non-lethal technology that we could apply more broadly due to its non-lethal nature? For instance, a fire extinguisher sized can of pepper spray in the cockpit. How about some of these electrical discharge devices? Hell hook em up to a net that when fired, zaps all of first class. ( I'm a little envious of the leg room, can you tell?) I would much rather get gassed or zapped than be dodging stray bullets back in economy.

  4. Dan-

    First, my understanding is that there are non-invasive means for detecting the presence of explosives. If so, then our current security measures could be rendered unnecessary at some point in the future. I look forward to that day.

    Second, it is true that passengers didn't fight back when they thought that they could survive the hijacking. But will anybody ever again believe such an assertion? Judging from the way that passengers have assisted flight crews in subduing anybody who puts up a struggle in the past two years, I'm confident in the will of passengers to fight back.

    Third, in principle I have no objection to intelligent searches based on prior knowledge. Such measures are clearly superior to the blunt instrument of random searches, and also superior to the blunt instrument of profiling based solely on demographics (for the reasons listed above). In practice, I have real concerns about a government blacklist. The devil will be in the details. I won't unequivocally oppose this screening system YET, but I maintain extreme skepticism for now.

    Finally, given how much effort we pour into securing aviation, I wonder if terrorists will just give up and pursue other targets. It wouldn't be hard to bring a very large bomb into a shopping mall or hotel.

  5. All I know is the current "profiling" system is bolloxed. I typically fly to 3-5 different North American cities per week. (For example, wake up in NY, fly to Chicago, wake up the next day, fly to Denver, wake, on to San Fran - you get the idea).
    I am a late 20's white male. Registered gun owner, former US Marine, never been arrested. I try to fly American Airlines exclusively. As such, whenever I fly AA, I breeze through security.
    However, when I fly "off airline" - ANY airline - I get (what I call) the "black spot" (the little "SSS", "***", choose your code), and am subject to the EDU (Elbows deep in underwear) treatment.
    As far as I can tell, this is because EVERY ticket I buy is one-way. Every day. Every week. But I can't prove that. The process is random.
    I fear I will be now labeled yellow or red. Try to imagine ths happening to you EVERY SINGLE DAY. Welcome to my life.
    The only solace is that at the end of the week they get to paw through my dirty workout clothes...

  6. If you merely wish to kill large amounts of people, there is no limit to the number of methods. It simply requires the will to do so.

    Simple to understand?

  7. Kevin, you're a victim of the knee-jerk idiocy that the media latched on to when it was discovered that some (if not all) of the hijackers had one-way tickets.

    Now the system alerts all one-way travelers. Therefore, all future suicide hijackers will have round-trip tickets. So all filtering for one-way travel is pretty much a waste.

  8. Recently I flew out of LAX on a Sunday morning. I proceeded from a long line to check in, to a longer line to drop my bags off to be screened, then to the longest line that stretched outside the terminal and down the sidewalk to await my personal screening. There were easily 5,000 people packed into the terminal and on the sidewalks out front. You could have driven up to the front glass with a couple of OKC-type bombs in Ryder trucks, and brought down the whole structure, doubling at the least the 9/11 body count.

    Thoreau is right on in saying that we won't see another 9/11-style hijacking. Such an undertaking is now too risky, and why even attempt it when America presents such a "target-rich environment"?

  9. If a group of hijackers assured the passengers that they would be released safely, that they only wanted (for example) to demand that the United States agree to new peace talks in the Middle East -- would enough of the passengers be brave enough to fight back?

    Dan, I can damn near guarantee you that if you speak with an accent, are bearded, are swarthy, are nervous, are sweating, are whispering to a companion, are reading a book who's title isn't in English, or are reaching for you shoes on the same flight as me you're getting dropped. If you match any of the above, you pretty much better empty your bladder before the flight and eat your meal with chopsticks because if you get out of your seat or if I see anything that vaguely can be described as sharp in your hands, you're getting dropped. How many people would fight back Dan? Thanks to the example set by our President, the world may never know. I won't need to fight back, because I reserve the right to get preemptive on your ass.

  10. Tom-

    How ironic would it be if they took your advice and actually set off a bomb that killed all the people standing in security lines?

    The response would be to bar all vehicles from a radius around LAX and force everybody to take trams from a remote parking site. So large numbers of people would congregrate at remote sites, and some guy could strap a bomb to his chest and blow himself up at one of those remote sites at a peak departure time.

    No matter what happens, bad people will find ways to kill Americans. The only way to stop them is to infiltrate their networks in advance, since the brute force approach of trying to secure every square inch of American soil is hopeless.

  11. "when America presents such a "target-rich environment"?"

    Exactly. I've been trying to figure out why we haven't seen the suicide bombings like Israel. As an American it seems that it would be terribly easy to pull off.

    Movie theaters, supermarket, etc. I read somewhere that israeli stores have metal detectors to keep people out rather than to watch for stolen goods.

    nice points, thoreau

  12. What's the point of racially profiling Arabs?

    The next Arab highjackers will board planes with Matriculas Consulares that say their names are Juan Ramirez & Juan Gomez. They will have bought these documents from Mexican consulates for $50 each and a bottle of Cuervo.

  13. Hah hah

    Se habla espanol?

    Yo querro dinero!

    Sure, but add spanish to the terrorist training handbook - something that'll take at least half a year of dedicated study 😉


  14. "I've been trying to figure out why we haven't seen the suicide bombings like Israel."

    Yes because as everyone here KNOWS, the state serves no purpose at all. And the "War on Terror" is merely a pretense so that John Ashcroft can look at your Border's receipts.

  15. The idiocy of the sheeple these days astounds me. First, why was CAPPS II programmed to "...match the passenger's name and information against databases of private companies that collect information on people for commercial reasons, such as their shopping habits."? What in the HELL will my credit report tell them about my desires for disaster? This entire thing seems like a scrim of massive proportions. Rather than scanning for "dangerous types" perhaps it is a grand way of scanning for ANY type. They seem fond of finding money launderers...people who prefer cash to more visible assets...people who elect to not pay taxes...child support...mmm?

    No, this is meant for much more than we know or can guess at.

    As for a target rich environment - is there anyone with half a mind who is comfy at, say, an NFL game these days? No, it's madness. All madness. Tragedy will come. Disaster. And nothing we will have done will stop it. Because it was already too late about 15 years ago.

  16. If airport security gets you down, just bypass it.

    I wonder how the cost compares.

  17. LauraN,

    Puts me in mind of the Saturday night DUI roadblocks a local police department used to run when I lived in Missouri a few years back. One weekend they stopped more than 200 cars and only handed out a couple of tickets for open containers (no actual DUI arrests made), but still managed to issue more than 100 citations for no seatbelts, expired/missing registrations/inspections/licenses, bald tires, damaged headlights, too many people in the vehicle, unrstrained children, etc. All cash-producing citations.

  18. It seems to me that what we need to be focusing on is, what form any subsequent attacks may take. I hope that somewhere there is a think tank that is evaluating this . . .
    Has anyone ever heard of any part of the government ?brainstorming? how to attack us most affectively? First step is to be smarter than your enemy.

    Given the response of Congress to the "terrorism futures market" idea, what do you think the answer to this question is?

  19. Well, if a terrorist shipped himself in a crate he'd have a hard time hijacking the plane, that's for sure!

    Maybe we should do what space travelers on long missions do in sci-fi movies: Put every passenger on the plane into a deep sleep until they reach their destination. It's the only logical conclusion of our nation's security obsession.

    "Hello, this is your anesthesiologist speaking. I'll be monitoring your vital signs for the trip from Los Angeles to Miami. Have a plenty sleep, and thank-you for choosing Paranoia AirLines (PAL), your PAL in the sky!"

  20. I meant to say "Have a pleasant sleep", not "Have a plenty sleep". Brain fart.

  21. thoreau--

    I've wanted to be anesthetized on long flights for quite some time anyway.

  22. Tom's point about bombing the check-in area is 100% spot-on. Every time I fly and see the giant line at the security screening area, I can't help but be reminded of Abu Nidal's simultaneous attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports in 1985: Terrorists with submachineguns under their coats simply walked into the airports and opened fire on people waiting to check in. Total of 18 passengers killed, 120 wounded and all the metal detectors, x-ray machines and strip searches at the concourses didn't matter one bit. Nor would CAPPS II.

  23. Well, Jack, that just means we need to have the searches before you enter the airport! Yeah, that's it!

    Oh, wait, they could shoot people waiting to be searched.

    OK, then maybe the police should be empowered to search anyone leaving his house and confiscate any sharp metal objects they find. Yeah, that's it!

    And before anybody whines about civil liberties, remember that this is for the children!

  24. For us in the America's great white north there is no choice - fly or don't go anywhere (unless you have a week or two to drive).

    I have an alternative to the arm everybody option - how about making clothes illegal on airplanes - Fly Naked!!! - and no carry-on crap either!

  25. Hmm, Hooters' Air might be willing to adopt a fly-naked policy for its flight attendants...

    (Yes, there really is such an airline!)

  26. First off, the coding idea is ridiculous in terms of any alleged increase in security. My 7 year old could get around that nonsense in about a minute. As a matter of fact she would be the perfect tool to do precisely that. Secondly, I am not getting on any airliner if I believe that a bunch of untrained (by this I mean professionals like cops or the military) yahoos are bring their Colts and Rugers on board. Never mind taking my chances with rapid depressurization, I just don't want to be in the same steel tube when the shooting starts.

  27. Super. A little under half the time I fly I get pulled aside for a "random" search. (5 out of 12 times since 9/11). Must be the turban. No, actually, I'm a nondescript white dude. I figure it must be some age/sex profile. Anyway, I look forward to my happy meals in Gitmo.

  28. Hey now, it's a bit unfair for those of us who complain about indiscriminate searches of elderly white women to complain about a system that actually applies relevant criteria to determining airline searches. If you don't like it, no one's forcing you to fly.

  29. why dont we just stop doing stuff that makes people want to attack us? problem solved.

  30. Steve:

    Yeah, and when they start doing constant roadblocks, with ID check, on all major highways, no one's forcing you to drive or ride a bus. And when they start putting surveillance cameras on every streetcorner, no one's forcing you to leave your house. And when they start requiring mandatory ID check against a federal database every time you make a purchase, no one's forcing you to spend money. Just because putting the police in charge of the most commonly-used means of long distance transportation RESEMBLES an internal passport system, doesn't mean it IS.

    And remember, the argument that trumps them all: "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about."

  31. Most people will be coded green and sail through. But up to 8 percent of passengers who board the nation's 26,000 daily flights will be coded "yellow" and will undergo additional screening at the checkpoint, according to people familiar with the program. An estimated 1 to 2 percent will be labeled "red" and will be prohibited from boarding. These passengers also will face police questioning and may be arrested.

    These numbers don't add up
    How many people fly each day. If you average 50 per flight than that's 1.25 million. 1 to 2% of that is 12-25,000 people being interviewed by police and possibly arrested. Every day. They can't all be terrorists can they. Are they going to be looking for everyone who has an old bench warrant for smoking dope.

    On another note my wife was flying out of San Jose, where the TSA guy invested a lot of time in trying to pick her up, (She fits another kind of profile: blonde and thin) while waving on scads of other fliers.

  32. Mojo,

    That comment makes me want to attack you, in fact any comment you make, makes me want to attack you. Stop it. Or else.

  33. Steve -- of course, no one is forcing me to fly. I could quit my line of work, stop visiting my relatives, and go only places that I can drive to.

    This is more invasion of privacy from the Bush administration -- let's hope the next president has the cojones and wherewithal to undo all the damage W. is doing.

  34. I'm just worried that whatever I'm doing to win all these "random" searches is now going to have teeth and I'll be getting body cavity searches anytime I want to fly. Wonder if you can declare "I've changed my mind, I don't want to fly today" as the guy is putting on his rubber gloves?

  35. It's called a roust. The authorities can't do anything so they disturb as many people as possible instead so as to prove their value.

    The entire idea was wrong from the first day. There should be a large hunting knife at every seat. If you try anything, there are 300 armed angry passengers to fix it. They search you at the gate, and if you don't have a weapon, they give you one.

    The knives would also work on airline food, if they served food.

  36. If you don't like it, no one's forcing you to fly.

    That's pretzel logic at its finest. The right to fly never has been, and never should be, a privilege granted to you by the government. One could use that line of reasoning to defend virtually any intrusion on the part of the government. Don't like the thought of the government keeping tabs on where you go with your car? Then don't drive! Don't like the idea of the feds having the right to monitor your web browsing activity? Then don't use the Internet!

    That said, you have a point about supporters of passenger profiling needing to explain why they oppose this system. Personally, I've never thought that a lack of profiling is the main problem with airport security today. It's the inability (or perhaps unwillingness) of the TSA to figure out that no one is ever going to succeed in hijacking a commercial airliner in this country again, regardless of what weapons a would-be hijacker brings on board. This screening system does nothing to fix that enormous tactical error. And given the amount of funding the TSA would lose if it was ordered to focus primarily on bomb-detection activities, as it should, I don't think it'll be fixed anytime soon.

  37. So, Timmy McVeigh was a turban-wearing camel jockey?
    News flash - not every security threat comes from Saudi Arabia.

  38. The alternatives are:

    (a) screen everyone equally
    (b) racial profiling
    (c) intelligent profiling

    If all you want to do is complain, fine. Otherwise, come up with a better alternative. Meanwhile, (c) is the least problematic.

    I agree that 8 percent yellow and 1 percent red is way too high, but right now, 100% of us are being treated as yellow/red, so this would be an improvement.

  39. The TSA program is ill-conceived and makes no sense, since there would have to be at least 30 hijackers on any given plane to sucessfully defend against alert people like Tom from Texas, who would be feeding would-be hijackers the beverage cart as an appetizer.

  40. I wouldn't worry about it. After all, this is the same TSA that's being starved of funds (but we're not supposed to know about, on pain of the TSA source being labelled an "enemy combatant"). If the gub'mint can't afford to pay a few dozen air marshals to ride flights, how do we think they'll find the money for a multi-million dollar scanning system designed to give them 12,000 new headaches a day???

  41. I don't fly anymore. In fact I called the TSA and complained and did a report on my college radio show about how bad their service was (I got extra screening with a side of rudeness and not paying attention). I think the best thing anyone can do is just NEVER fly. Under any circumstances. I understand some people need to fly but I really don't. I'm in school. I have time to waste (4 month breaks). There is no place I travel to where I can't drive.

    Yes its naieve, but I'm sick of getting treated like a criminal when I am a fat white guy from the suburbs.

  42. Right now what we have is reverse profiling - the bureaucrats (and this includes the gate guards) are so afraid of being accused of profiling the middle eastern-looking folks that they avoid them and concentrate on the white folks in line.

  43. The other alternative is to take your fucking chances.

    Let's see... we had one major terrorist act regarding airplanes in forty years, 4000 dead... that's roughly 40 dead a year IF WE DO NOTHING. Or else we can spend multi-billions of dollars per year to save, on average, 40 lives a year.

    Sounds like overdoing it to me. But that's what modern government is all about.

  44. Oops. Bad math. 100 dead a year. Still a pittance.

  45. Don't they already have this? My little brother has has been searched every one of the 5 or 10 times he's flown after an incident where he got into with the woman behind the check in counter.

  46. Mr. Hardin has the right idea. Arm EVERYONE and no one will take a chance on hijacking a plane in the US.

  47. Tom from Texas,

    Yeah, but a smart Al Queda would look for an elderly, white dispensationalist nutjob who wanted to bring on Armageddon, or an elderly, white identity Christian who wanted to blow up a big building, and use them for a patsy.

    And I'll say it so even you Red State sheeple can understand it: It was bad when Meese, North and Giuffrida did it. It was bad when the Butcher of Waco did it. And it's just as bad when Asscrap does it. You can't trust the jbt's EVER--regardless of who's in office.

  48. Good post, Kevin Carson, but Ron Hardin is on the right track. Substitute concealed firearms for knives (or hell, add concealed firearms) and you've got a plan.

    Anonymous says we should "take our fucking chances". Yeah, you're right that it beats being color-coded and full-body-cavity searched, but you're missing something here. If the pilots and/or a few passengers on those 4 infamous flights 2 years back had been armed, THE WHOLE DAMN THING WOULD. NOT. HAVE. HAPPENED! 3000 to 4000 dead and 5-10 times that many wounded for THE SAKE OF POLITICAL CORRECTNESS!

    The blood is on your hands too, gun controllers, not just the 19 Moslems. Yeah, I realize, only a contributing factor, not the cause. Still instead of washing your hands, how about support a real armed pilots program at least, instead of the sham we have going.

    Maybe 100 people have gotten through the program that costs like 6 grand, is held out in New Mexico ONLY, has the pilot taking a chance on getting burned on a psych test that he would otherwise not have to take, and you got to lock up the gun in a box and all sorts of bullshit.

    On a lighter note, I thought color coding was all about "OK no more of this back-of-the-bus for blacks and front for whites. Let's just all get along - pretend we are all green, OK? Good, that's better, now light green in the front, dark green in the back" *

    * Bill Cosby, back when he was funny.

  49. Sorry, Kevin, didn't see your last one - good posts both.

  50. My opinion is not coloured in any way by the fact that I don't know when, if ever, my fianc? will be able to meet my parents, as he was blacklisted from entering the US from Qu?bec. Of course I am not biased after my father and my best friend were convinced that he must be some kind of criminal because of it. That is, until my aunt was refused entry into the US from Qu?bec to attend her own son's wedding. I guess I'll have to wait until "those kind of people" clean up their act. Unfortunately, you all will have to be on your guard, since Qu?b?cois don't look different from any 'merican. Perhaps they should wear a Fleur de Lis on their lapels? It's so nice knowing that if I EVER complain, I can kiss MY flying privileges goodbye.

    Kind of reminds me - my friend Andrew is Iranian and before I knew his last name, I thought he was a Jew. Perhaps people who "look like Jews" should keep their mouths shut until the Semetic Peoples "clean up their act." Sounds like some good ol' Texas logic to me.

  51. Let's separate wheat from chaff:

    First, as Eric pointed out, nobody will ever succeed in hijacking another flight in this country. So none of this matters anyway.

    Second, in principle it makes more sense to have a screening system based on prior knowledge of an individual rather than "profiles" taken at the airport (age, race, etc.). But of course it isn't necessary since nobody will ever succeed in hijacking another plane in the US. And the idea of a permanent blacklist has all sorts of other bad ramifications that I think most people here are already sympathetic about.

    Third, profiling based on demographic variables (age, race, etc.) is a bad idea from a security standpoint. Say we only subject Middle Easterners to extensive searches. The Islamic terrorist groups will start recruiting John Walker Lindh types, not to mention whatever wackos they can find in Africa, East Asia, and former Soviet republics with paler complexions. I'm not suggesting that there are many wackos in any of those ethnic groups, but it only takes a handful to cause trouble.

    OK, so we then recognize that young men of any age could be hijackers. Well, the terrorist groups can try to recruit women, and in the meantime individual terrorists can force their brain-washed and abused girlfriends to smuggle the weapons in because they aren't searched as thoroughly.

    OK, so now we recognize that any young person could be a terrorist. Elderly people with senile tendencies are already preyed upon by all manner of scam artists. (There's a reason why an identity theft bill recently passed in California was endorsed by a major senior citizens' organization.) So "those nice young boys from the apartment down the hall" befriend a sweet old lady whose relatives live in another city. She's lonely and confused. They do chores for her, they keep her company, they walk her dog, and at Christmas they drive her to the airport. They say that they're going to fly to the Middle East to visit their families for Ramadan. They just ask if she could carry something in her purse at the airport because they don't want it to get lost. They'll get it from her when they board the flight. And since they attend pilot school she trusts them on any airport-related matters.

    So now we ahve to search everyone, because the terrorists are cunning criminals who will find a way to exploit any group that isn't subject to search. So then we go back to my original observation that nobody will ever succeed in hijacking another plane in the US anyway, so we stop the intensive searches.

  52. arjay,

    Jack-booted Thugs.

  53. nm156: How bout you fly your airline where they strip you nekked, check every cavity twice (first 2 fingers in each orifice, then another TSA guy's like "hey, I want a second opinion", so then it's 3 fingers ;-} and so on.

    I'll gladly fly the one that allows passengers to carry firearms, knives, leathermans (or is it "leathermen"??), etc.

    What a novel concept --> free choice as opposed to an industry which is nothing but the whipping boy of the FAA presently.

  54. Free choice is not the issue I'm opposing. I'm against the idea of allowing people who barely know which end of a firearm to point at the bad guy to get on board a thin-skinned, pressurized container that spends the vast majority of it's time at heights from which I would not survive the fall. I would rather see armed pilots and a random scattering of armed Sky-marshals who would at least have the proper training and, more importantly, the proper equipment (i.e. low grain munitions which will lodge inside a body rather than go through) to deal with these bastards.

  55. Nice, anon. I guess "government should stick to its core mission, defense" is just something you people say to win an argument.

  56. Hey nm,

    Well it should be a matter of choice while (although I agree with you on armed pilots and have no problem with sky marshals), you want to specify how it should be.

    In a free country, the airlines would be responsible for their own security. Whether the allow stun guns or 44 magnums, whether the strip search you or not, should be up to management. You don't think management of United Airlines wants to see a triple-7, crew, and 250 PAX lost, do you? Believe me, the people working there care a whole lot more than the FAA. Right now the FAA runs the whole damn show.

    The pressure vessel (i.e., the skin) of a modern jetliner has lots of crack stopping features, built in to stop crack that start out undetectable of course. These same structural features would stop bullet holes from being catastropic. Your points are well taken though.
    Use of firearms would be a LAST resort, as most people who own them know already, nm. What we need is simply good gun control (as in hit what you shoot at).

    Good morning.

  57. Bolos!

    Bolos under every seat!

  58. "and no carry-on crap either!"

    That means every passenger gets a pre-flight enema.

  59. Kevin Carson

    Sorry to be dense, "jbt's"? Please explain.

  60. Mojo jojo: Shut up.

  61. Jimmy A,

    I freely choose not to have buildings toppled by planes piloted by hijackers.


    You mean like letting women have jobs?

  62. Joe, since they aren't "your" buildings nor "your" planes, your choice is irrelevant.

  63. Second, it is true that passengers didn't fight back when they thought that they could survive the hijacking. But will anybody ever again believe such an assertion?

    That depends on what you mean by "believe". The passengers will certainly suspect that they're being lied to -- but they'll know that they'll die if they fight back. Given a choice between "maybe death" and "probably death", people go with "maybe". The Flight 93 folks faced a choice between "definite death" and "almost-certain death"; that's why they fought.

    Judging from the way that passengers have assisted flight crews in subduing anybody who puts up a struggle in the past two years, I'm confident in the will of passengers to fight back.

    The only incidents thus far have been lone unarmed nuts on crowded flights. The 9/11 hijackers showed up, in force (4 or 5 per flight), on lightly-populated flights -- apples and oranges. One man with a knife could stand at the cockpit door and hold off vastly superior numbers semi-indefinitely -- they have to come at him one at a time, and each new corpse helps form a "blockade" against further attacks.

    And if the hijackers take extra hostages -- for example, if they grab some little kid and state that they'll slit the kid's throat if anyone resists -- that's another thing to consider, isn't it? Then it becomes "maybe death, if we cooperate" versus "if I resist, that kid dies, and I probably die too, and it might all be for nothing".

    Five hijackers -- one in the cockpit, one holding a hostage, three on guard duty. Taking them down is going to require at least six or seven adult men (or strong women) acting together, and most of them are going to be critically injured or killed. That is not going to happen, not if those people think they have a chance of living if they don't resist.

    "Fight back, no matter what" has ALWAYS been the best possible response to armed threat. Have humans learned this lesson, in 6000+ years of armed brutality? No, they haven't, and 9/11 didn't change that. We still play the odds.

  64. Joe,

    I've said it before and I'll say it again:

    You're an idiot.

    Oh, this is re:
    "Jimmy A,

    I freely choose not to have buildings toppled by planes piloted by hijackers."

  65. Wow. I don't know what impresses me more: the courage it takes to call someone a insulting name over the internet, or the intellectual depth required to come up with "idiot." It would have been so easy to go with poopyhead, but no. Truly accomplished thinker and wordsmiths like Jimmy simply do not sleep well at night knowing that they let an opportunity like this go by.

    Touche, sir. I am embarrassed and chagrined.

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