more air security opinion
On the heels of the "trusted traveler" program story, I read that government lawyers are urging a district judge to limit the discovery process for wrongful-death lawsuits filed against the airlines whose planes were hijacked on Sept. 11, citing security concerns. (The documents could become part of the public record as part of the trial.)
I hate to break it to you, but al Qaeda already sussed out the security flaws in the US passenger airline system. I see two basic implications of this request, neither one particularly assuring. One is that this request is merely an attrempt to shield the airlines from liability; if the plaintiffs can't examine the airline's security system or lack thereof, they can't prove the procedures were inadequate or were not followed.
The other possibility is more disturbing to contemplate: Whatever flaws existed in the pre-Sept. 11 system, weren't those supposed to have been fixed? I don't see any more harm in examining the pre-Sept. 11 security apparatus as studying WWII coastal defense procedures--they just wouldn't be operational today. Indeed, it'd be beneficial if any terrorist was dumb enough to try to exploit a perceived flaw, when such a hole didn't really exist; such a foolish endeavor would likely result in the terrorist's capture.
I'm on about this because of a post at Cut on the Bias that cited another blog post speculating that the administration is assuming that al Qaeda's next attack won't use hijacking as its MO. I have no way at all if knowing if that speculation is true, but if it is, that'd be a monumentally dumb assumption. I'm operating from a few assumptions of my own; for example, I take it for granted that al Qaeda would love to get its bloody hands on a weapon of mass destruction, but that if they had one they'd have used it. That leads me to postulate that WMDs are relatively hard for terrorists to obtain, and given that, it seems that an airliner packs as much destructive potential in terms of the kinetic energy it represents as just about anything this side of a liquified gas tanker (and those are slow and can only attack coastal cities). Given all that, I'd hope airport security is tighter than the stories I've cited in these two posts seem to indicate.