Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Random Airport Thoughts

I'm on my way to Bosnia again, on family business - though, being a workaholic, I fully intend to do some investigative analysis once there.

Right this moment, I'm sitting on the floor in the corner of the departure lounge of the Vienna Airport, the only place where one can find a free electrical outlet. Most people toting laptops keep them on for an hour or so at most. I have a three-hour layover. I'll be damned if I spend it watching the battery indicator.

I would have been outraged at this obvious oversight on part of the airport management, had I not learned better on my frequent trips to the Old Continent; thanks to their advanced cell phone networks, Europeans tend to use their mobile phones the way Americans use laptops. Besides, at least they do have free Wi-Fi. At the Dulles Airport in Washington, I was barely able to register a signal - for a pay-per-use T-Mobile network, ironically operated by Germans.

Flying in this day and age includes a set of humiliating "security" rituals one has to subject himself to in order to enter a departure concourse. Ever since the idiotic Richard Reed tried to set his shoes on fire, people are made to pad through the security checkpoints barefoot. We never did find out whether Reed's shoes were actually explosive or not. The shoeless requirement has recently been joined by the liquids restriction (3 oz. in the U.S., 100 ml in the E.U.), resulting from an alleged terror plot from this summer.

A thought occurred to me, seeing all the signs and warnings about the danger of toiletries. In order to keep winning, the jihadists don't have to carry out a single successful terrorist attack. Or even bother to try. All it takes is to feed some misinformation about theoretical plots using far-fetched and, frankly, ludicrous methods. Obsessed with "security," the Empire would obligingly react in the predictably paranoid fashion.

I can just imagine some two-bit jihadist "confessing" under torture the existence of "underwear bombs," and the resulting strip-searches of air travelers. Maybe the government "security" bureaucracies would start requiring all passengers to change into hospital gowns and disposable slippers, duly stocked at specialized concessions stores at airports (provided by Halliburton on a no-bid contract, perhaps?). Opportunities for humiliation are endless. The jihadist scum can just sit back and cackle at the stupid, gullible kuffar. Which they probably do already, come to think of it.

I'm all for actual security, but government bureaucracies are institutionally incapable of providing it. The sorry sight of shoeless travelers and baggies filled with toothpaste, lotions and perfume is demonstration enough.