Knives on a Plane

Several weeks ago, the TSA decided to revise its position and allow knives, among a few other things, to be carried onto an airplane.  These knives couldn’t be more than what would be described as a common pocket knife.

Since then, quite a few people have weighed in on this decision publicly and I had decided to leave it alone because I felt the decision was really immaterial to any debate on security.

But I read Bob Greene’s opinion piece on CNN and I’ve changed my mind.  I want to weigh in.

Bob Greene is an idiot.

I say that because Bob Greene essentially calls Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security and the TSA idiots.   Let’s be clear here:  Bob Greene, a journalist and columnist with many years of experience, has decided that he has better judgement than the experts who have exposure to all the facts.

Here is an example of Bob Greene’s good judgement:  Bob Greene Wiki

He also makes a specious argument in his piece when he says that the tragedies of September 11, 2001 were caused by knives.

Well, they weren’t.  Knives were the instrument used by terrorists to take over multiple aircraft and were used to assault and kill flight crew.

Curiously, those terrorists didn’t succeed because they had knives.  In fact, if the tragedy wasn’t so tragic, the reason for their success is nearly comical.  They succeeded because we had spent more than 3 decades telling people to cooperate with hijackers.

Globally, we had told people that their best chances for survival when their transportation was hijacked was to cooperate.  More specifically, to shut up, do as told and to not try to interfere with the hijackers.  We, as a global community, couldn’t have been more of one voice on the subject.

Every airline (with the exception of El Al) told its crews to cooperate fully, get the aircraft on the ground and do your best to provide an opportunity for someone outside the aircraft to solve the problem.

And it was an incredibly successful strategy.  Few people got hurt, there were very few violent episodes and it worked very, very well in getting innocents away from danger.

The terrorists used our policies against us.  It wasn’t the box cutters they carried that killed people on those aircraft.  It was the “cooperate” policies that did this.

It’s actually extremely difficult to kill someone with a box cutter who actively resists.

When we found out what the hijackers did on those aircraft, I made the statement to several friends the first night that we’ll never see another successful hijacking in all likelihood.  I speculated that we may well see aircraft bombed or hit with missiles but that I didn’t think we would see one successfully hijacked.

And so far, we really haven’t.

Passengers immediately began actively responding to threats in the cabin and restraining people who intend harm on an aircraft.  It works, too.  In fact, those passengers have never gotten seriously injured either.

Our cockpits are now guarded with very strong doors that can withstand human force very well.  Our pilots won’t be acting passively either.  In fact, I fully agree with the idea of pilots being allowed to carry weapons in the cockpit and I think it should be encouraged.  Pilots should be trained to use them as a defense if that door is penetrated.

Knives aren’t a threat on aircraft.  No more so than many items that are already on that aircraft.  There are countless items that exist on airplane that could be turned into cutting weapons that are at least as good as a pocket knife.

Now, in a rare exhibition of sanity, the TSA has rightly realized that it needs to focus on real threats in security lines and eliminate some aspects of the security theater that have been going on.  And for their trouble, they get the likes of Bob Greene attacking them.

I have not approved of most of our security theater for the past several years in this blog.  There have been a number of steps taken to drive the perception of security while not providing any enhanced security at all.  I have vocally criticized those moves many times.

If you think you’re safer flying on an airplane in which pocket knives are banned, I have request:

Don’t fly.  You’re really too ignorant to be allowed on an aircraft and, frankly, I cannot trust you to do the right thing should there be a real emergency.  Take a car, please.  Or a train.

And if you think Bob Greene is qualified to call a entire security department of the United States idiots, then I would ask that you definitely not travel at all.  You’re a risk to too many people.

Personally, I would like to urge Bob Greene to go back to what he arguably does extremely well:  Personal interest stories about real people.

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One Response to “Knives on a Plane”

  1. One good call re: knives does not make Janet Napolitano, the Dept of Homeland Insecurity and the TSA any less the paranoid idiots than they are. They are not, as you put it, “the entire security department of the United States;” they are the entire PARANOIA department. And they should be radically reconfigured, or disbanded entirely.

    Now then… Do you also think *I* am too great a risk to traveling America?

    -R
    (bring it)

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