Time To Get Rid Of No Fly List Altogether?

from the from-the-mainstream-press? dept

We recently noted that some members of the "no fly" list are suing the US government, questioning why they're "too scary to fly, but not scary enough to arrest," and complaining that there's simply no way for them to even find out why they're on the list or to get off the list. That's resulted in a Chicago Tribune editorial suggesting we dump the "no fly" list altogether. In fact, the editorial goes even further, saying we should go back to letting people fly without having to show a government-issued identity. The argument is that this is really security theater, and there are lots of other things in place that would likely stop a terrorist attack:
What no one seems to notice is that other improvements in security have made this one a needless burden.

The government required airlines to install reinforced cockpit doors to keep hijackers from taking the controls. It tightened security rules -- banning penknives, lighters, ski poles, snow globes, and liquids except in tiny bottles.

It initiated random pat-downs of travelers and gave extra scrutiny to those who did suspicious things. It deployed thousands of armed air marshals.

Equally important, travelers changed their mindset, meaning that terrorists can no longer count on passive victims. On several occasions -- starting with United Flight 93 on 9/11 -- passengers have acted to foil attacks.

With all these layers of protection in place, the rationale for the no-fly list has crumbled. Even if someone on the list can get on a plane, his chance of taking it over or bringing it down is very close to zero. And you know the other good thing? The same holds for an aspiring terrorist who doesn't make the list.

The government's tedious insistence on identifying all travelers and grounding some may convey an illusion of security. But we could live -- and I do mean live -- without it.
I have to admit I'm surprised to see an editorial like this in a mainstream publication like the Chicago Tribune. And while I agree that the no fly list is a joke, it should be admitted that many of those other "improvements in security" are equally as ridiculous, so citing them as the argument alone isn't very convincing.

Filed Under: civil rights, no fly


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  • icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 8:55am

    True Security

    You only get real security when every citizen takes his/her security personally. Arm the populace, and make sure they know how to use their guns.

    This one action fundamentally changes the equation. The "terrorists" cannot possibly watch every American on the airplane at every moment--and it'll be the one they don't see which puts a bullet into them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:08am

      Re: True Security

      Yeah, herding hundreds of morons with guns into an enclosed space is a real way to safeguard security, especially when many of the are racist morons who consider anyone with brown skin to be a terrorist suspect :rolls eyes:

      Besides, if you're frightened enough of terrorists to make that kind of move, then they've already won. They're not called terrorists because they blow things up, they're called terrorists because their entire aim is to induce the constant state of fear Americans seem to have lived in every day since 9/11.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Dark Helmet (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:14am

        Re: Re: True Security

        Yeah, sorry Lobo, but I kind of agree. I'm very pro gun rights and have no problem with general carry and conceal allowances, but there are some avenues in which restriction should be enforced, and on an airplane is one of them.

        On the other hand, having folks who qualified for higher levels of carry and conceal (by passing marksmanship tests and background checks) would be okay in a limited fashion....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        :Lobo Santo (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:15am

        Re: Re: True Security

        Fear is when you're a helpless sheep dependent upon your largely apathetic indecipherable government to safeguard your wretchedly pathetic existence.

        And besides, if you were in that crowd of "hundreds of morons with guns in an enclosed space" (your fellow Americans) I'm betting you'd be all kinds of civil, polite, and well-mannered. How is that a bad thing?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          TtfnJohn (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:37am

          Re: Re: Re: True Security

          Without turning this into a pro or anti gun thing (in general) I'll chime in that a pressurized air cabin and a gun is a really, really bad combination even should the gun discharge accidentally.

          What you're ignoring here is that "the terrorists" who acted on 9/11 weren't the least bit interested in preserving their own lives so the idea that the plane he/she/them are getting on may have a few armed passengers isn't likely to deter them at all. Nor was the shoe bomber deterred by the fact that he'd die along with everyone else and on and on and on.

          Firearms aren't magic for those that carry or anyone else.

          And keep in mind that "the terrorists" are almost always highly trained and motivated which reduces even more the notion that a plane load of people carrying guns is likely to deter them.

          Sadly, armed passengers blow up as well as unarmed passengers.

          Nor, given everything Mike outlines since 9/11 make a aircraft hijacking far less likely as "the terrorist" like other military and paramilitary operatives prefer soft targets to hardened ones.

          I'm sure that there are equally high value targets that can be attacked more easily and more successfully than a passenger aircraft these days. Far more easily and with as great or greater effect.

          As has been pointed out, it appears that the terrorists have, in one case, already won.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

            ""the terrorists" are almost always highly trained and motivated"

            Fortunately for us, they're actually not. There have been very few successful terrorist attacks in the Western world since 9/11, and most unsuccessful ones were pathetic attempts that wouldn't have worked even if they weren't uncovered before they could act. Motivated? Sure, but most of them are amateurs and incompetent - even the 9/11 guys left stupid and blatant clues that could have led to the act being prevented (learning to fly a plane but specifically refusing the landing portion, for example).

            "I'm sure that there are equally high value targets that can be attacked more easily and more successfully than a passenger aircraft these days. Far more easily and with as great or greater effect."

            There are, which is why subways, buses, etc. have been targeted in other attacks around the world. It just happens that planes make more headlines when they're targeted, and so the "keeping people afraid" aim of terrorism is easier to achieve.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:27am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

            "he/she/them are getting on may have a few armed passengers isn't likely to deter them at all"

            Did anyone else see how silly this comment was? It doesn't matter if the terrorist doesn't care that people can shoot him, it only matters that people can shoot him. Fear doesn't need to solve this particular problem.

            And a hole in an airplane isn't as bad as you think. The air will leak out slowly enough that they can land before it becomes a problem.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Colg, 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:44pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

            "a pressurized air cabin and a gun is a really, really bad combination even should the gun discharge accidentally."

            The dangers of explosive decompression are way overblown. (pardon the pun)

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:41am

          Re: Re: Re: True Security

          I'm not American, and while I find many individual Americans to be civil, polite and well-mannered, there's always a lot of people who aren't.

          "Fear is when you're a helpless sheep dependent upon your largely apathetic indecipherable government to safeguard your wretchedly pathetic existence."

          Funny thing about that. I'm not afraid - of terrorists, especially (more people die in road accidents every year than have *ever* been killed by terrorists). I would, however, be very afraid if I was surrounded by idiots with deadly weapons every time I flew.

          I feel pretty sorry for your world view if you think that the only way for people to resolve their differences is under threat of random deadly force. Your world must be a very scary place, and I certainly wouldn't want to live there.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            :Lobo Santo (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

            "I feel pretty sorry for your world view if you think that the only way for people to resolve their differences is under threat of random deadly force. Your world must be a very scary place, and I certainly wouldn't want to live there."
            I believe in deadly force that is neither random nor required. I also believe violence is the last resort of the unimaginative, and lots of people have sadly atrophied imaginations. However, I don't believe in terrorists (except the black flag government-sponsored kind). Never met one, never seen one. Have only heard about them from mass media.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              btr1701, 22 Jul 2010 @ 10:53am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

              > I don't believe in terrorists. Never met one,
              > never seen one.

              You only believe people exists whom you've met or seen? You've never met or seen me. Maybe I'm a ghost?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:38am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

                You're not a ghost but you are inconsequential to our lives. YOu can (and will) be safely ignored, for the most part.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:48pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

              "However, I don't believe in terrorists (except the black flag government-sponsored kind). Never met one, never seen one. Have only heard about them from mass media."

              So... you're saying that you support the idea of allowing random people to carry deadly weapons in an enclosed, cramped, potentially volatile environment to address a danger you don't even believe exists in the first place?

              Wow.

              I, on the other hand, have lived most of my life in countries (UK, Ireland, Spain - my whole life apart from approx. 1 year in the US) where actual terrorist attacks have taken place on a relatively regular basis (not just AQ but IRA, ETA, etc.). Again, if the population around me is armed, I think I'd be in far more danger from a random idiot having a bad day / mental issues than I am now from terrorists.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Jay (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: True Security

          "And besides, if you were in that crowd of "hundreds of morons with guns in an enclosed space" (your fellow Americans) I'm betting you'd be all kinds of civil, polite, and well-mannered. How is that a bad thing?"

          Ben Franklin said it best:

          ""Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety deserve neither Liberty nor Safety"

          First, there's the problem of a pressurized cabin. Second is the fact that humans are irrational. This could lead to complications that you really, really, REALLY don't need.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 1:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: True Security

            The 'problem' of a pressurized cabin is only in the loss of oxygen that could cause problems for people with medical issues. Funny thing, there are these great little masks that drop from the ceiling to give you oxygen. How cool is that?!

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Jay (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:17am

        Just a thought

        I'd like to remind people that guns in a pressurized cabin is NOT a good combination...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D'Oliveiro, 22 Jul 2010 @ 6:12pm

      Re: True Security

      :Lobo Santo claimed:

      Arm the populace, and make sure they know how to use their guns.

      Unfortunately, a populace with easy access to guns tends to suffer from more gun crime. Classic examples are the US and Switzerland.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:03am

    really? a couple hundred of us discharging firearms on an airplane sounds fun and all, but no.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chris-Mouse (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:14am

    Re: True Security

    Have the passengers able to carry guns on board an aircraft? Let me know which flight that will be so I can take a different flight!

    Two problems come to mind right off the top of my head.
    One: passenger digs through carry-on bag looking for a snack, passenger in the next seat sees the gun in the carry-on and assumes terrorist.
    Two: A terrorist does try to hijack the plane, A passenger pulls out a gun and starts shooting. Result, one dead hijacker, and half a dozen dead passengers hit by the bullets that missed.

    There is NO need for anyone on board a plane to be armed. Even with a gun, the hijacker can't harm the aircraft if he can't get into the cockpit, and if he's trapped in the cabin with a couple of hundred angry passengers, he's not going to be a threat for long.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:20am

    The key point

    is

    travelers changed their mindset, meaning that terrorists can no longer count on passive victims. On several occasions -- starting with United Flight 93 on 9/11 -- passengers have acted to foil attacks.

    9/11, by its very nature could happen only once.

    not much of the rest is of any use.

    btw guns are not required for this. Allowing guns on aircraft would simply result in extra crashes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:32am

      Guns not required

      Because what we want to do is to increase the advantage conveyed by numbers. One person with a gun can easily hold off twenty with guns if he is holding it to a child's head. One unarmed person has no chance against twenty unarmed people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:31am

    OHHH THE TERRRRRROORRRRRISSTS!!!!

    "They" already won. The shit we have sunk to as a nation since 911 has already proved that "they" won. Patriot act I&II, warrant-less wire tapping, wholesale collection of internet data, rendition, and on and on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Richard (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:37am

      Re: OHHH THE TERRRRRROORRRRRISSTS!!!!

      and if we had done absolutely nothing .... then we would have won and they would have lost.

      (The change in passenger attitudes happened anyway, within an hour, without gov't action).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Some AC, 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:10am

        Re: Re: OHHH THE TERRRRRROORRRRRISSTS!!!!

        Exactly. People seem to forget that in a pre-9/11 world, no one assumed a terrorist was hijacking a plane to fly it into a damn building. Most Likely the hijackers had some money demands, prisoners they wanted freed, etc. The people on the plane were hostages for their demands. As such, the best way to survive was to do nothing! Wait for the authorities! The first two 9/11 attacks succeeded because it preyed upon this assumption.

        Now? There's no way in hell it'd work. Three guys with box cutters would stand zero chance against a plane full of people thinking they are going to die if they don't do something. And as Richard pointed out... that mindset changed within the hour... as evidenced by United 93

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          TDR, 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:46am

          Re: Re: Re: OHHH THE TERRRRRROORRRRRISSTS!!!!

          At least, if you think United 93 actually happened the way the media said it did and wasn't actually shot down by order of Cheney. Better to make up a heroic story of passenger action instead. But that's another topic entirely.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 9:35am

    "Even if someone on the list can get on a plane, his chance of taking it over or bringing it down is very close to zero."

    I would buy that line if the chance of someone getting contraband items on an airplane was actually very close to zero. It is not. TSA is a mixture of hardworking well trained people who care about security and idiots just like any other group/org/company out there.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 10:02am

      Re:

      The chance of bringing a plane down depends on more factors than just contraband items. The person would have to smuggle something in, overpower a couple of hundred fellow passengers who would be fighting quite hard not to become part of the next 9/11 and keep all of those people at bay while flying the plane accurately to a pre-chosen spot - all while authorities work to bring the plane down safely (or in extreme circumstances, not).

      Factor all of this in, and the chances of a successful attack is pretty much zero. 9/11 worked mainly because of a lack of terrorism awareness among passengers and the trust that - as in every other plane hijack that had ever taken place - the terrorists' intention was to land the plane. These factors will not exist in the next attempt.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 10:23am

        Re: Re:

        Why on earth would I need to 'overpower a couple of hundred passengers' if I am detonating the bomb i smuggled onto the plane? I do not argue that the chance of someone taking control of an airplane is close to zero now. The chance of taking down a plane is a different story though.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          crade (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah, bringing down a plane just requires blowing yourself (and part of the plane) up sometime shortly before landing. There is no fighting or anything required.
          Taking control of an airplane might require an inside man, or another unexpected activity. All they really did was change it so they can't use the same plan again.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:40pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          If you manage to smuggle something onto the plane nowadays, it's unlikely to be a complete device. It will almost certainly needs to be assembled (as per the attempted liquid bombs) or activated (as per the shoe bomber) while on the plane. It's unlikely that in today's heightened environment that such attempts will go unnoticed, and as soon as a terrorist is confronted, they'll have every able bodied person on the plane to deal with.

          It might be more likely to blow up a plane than take control of it with a box cutter in today's environment, but you're still more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than in an actual terrorist attempt.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            nasch (profile), 23 Jul 2010 @ 12:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I'm not sure that's true. Security teams have managed to get bomb components through security and into the airport bathroom. Seems like it would be easy to assemble it in the stall and carry it onto the plane from there.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jul 2010 @ 7:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I still agree it is unlikely though, though not because of the fact that the passengers are all terrorized now and they visibly have ramped up security at airports.

              Most of the real security regarding terrorism should come from your intelligence agency before the plane is ever a factor. Making a political game out of something like a no-fly list is a huge mistake I think.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 22 Jul 2010 @ 10:12am

    The "no-fly list" is more dangerous than "terrorists".

    It's the beginning of gov't *permission* to travel, and of all other sorts of permissions rather than liberties. The TSA has been putting people on it almost at random, and at last known point, was approaching a million names. -- Senator Kennedy was on it! I know some find that amusing, but it *proves* that the purpose of the list is political intimidation, *not* anything to do with "security".

    Anyway, as in that piece linked to this week: Where *are* the terrorists? -- The only possible reason for their *absence* is that they don't *dare* stage another attack, and since "Al-Qaeda" is supposedly already being attacked as much as possible, that points most surely to gov't STAGING.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jay (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:29pm

      Re: The "no-fly list" is more dangerous than "terrorists".

      Hmmm...

      So it's McCarthyism all over again... Interesting...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Beta (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 3:19pm

      Re: The "no-fly list" is more dangerous than "terrorists".

      'Senator Kennedy was on it! [That] *proves* that the purpose of the list is political intimidation, *not* anything to do with "security".'

      No, "T. Kennedy" was on the list. Remember, it is a list of names, and sometimes some other bits of information, not of people. (If that distinction doesn't seem important, you don't understand it.) The addition of that name to the list does not seem to have been politically motivated.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jul 2010 @ 11:33am

    Why are you surprised? The editorialist isn't up for reelection. No politician will commit suicide by rolling back security "features," period.

    This goes for: increasing taxes, say for an expensive war.
    or reducing sentences/consequences for sexting/"underage" dating. Etc.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jungle6, 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:19pm

    Best Idea Yet

    Give everyone in the US a gun then send out a news broadcast that everyone to your left is a Terrorist that needs to be taken care of.

    US population drops to about 100m terrified morons who were alone at the time of the culling.

    Over the next few days those brave survivors, carefully step out side and happily discover that they all have about 2 more guns each.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    derek, 22 Jul 2010 @ 12:26pm

    charade

    The No-Fly List isn't about security.

    "Security" is just the sales pitch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bradley Stewart, 22 Jul 2010 @ 1:55pm

    Just The Other Day

    I went clothes shopping. When I finished I stood in the check out line waiting to pay. As the sales girl was checking me out I noticed that there was something wrong with the pair of pants that I had picked out. I said to her just a minute. Where is the zipper? She responded to me. Oh sorry I just noticed on my computer that you are on the no fly list.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DanVan (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 2:27pm

    No, keep it but for god's sakes, make it smaller by just putting KNOWN terrorists on there and not this laughably big list with who we THINK may be

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Beta (profile), 22 Jul 2010 @ 3:40pm

    still has some catching up to do

    This is a new idea? Bruce Schneier has been saying this for years (as have others *cough*).

    This piece seemed like a sloppy argument for a good idea. This sentence in particular caught my eye:

    "Even if someone on the list can get on a plane, his chance of taking it over or bringing it down is very close to zero."

    *sigh* If someone whose name is on the list gets on a plane, the likelihood of his wanting to take it over or crash it is very close to zero.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Jul 2010 @ 12:03am

      Re: still has some catching up to do

      This is a new idea? Bruce Schneier has been saying this for years (as have others *cough*).


      Never said it was a new idea. Just pointing out that it's in a mainstream pub which surprised me.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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