In August 2001, one terrorist to another:Has anyone figured out that the terrorists not only want to cause spectacular loss of life to get noticed and forward their cause but also all of the inconvenience they cause gets them in the news just as well? Today's latest scare has us now banning all liquids from airplanes,because some bombs can be made from liquids that are explosive. The electronic devices are banned because they can be used to detonate these liquid explosives. Everything must be checked into baggage, so you can take them, but the business traveler who was savvy enough to avoid bag check is now thwarted.
T1 - I bet you I can get boxcutters, letter openers, pocket knives and even nail clippers banned from all flights in the US. Think of all of those aggravated passengers with annoying hangnails.
T2 - OK, you're on.
T1 - If I win the bet I want the money to go to my surviving relatives.
In November 2001, Richard Reid to his terrorist cell controller:
Rich - I bet you I can make everyone have to take their shoes off to fly in an airplane.
Terrorist - OK, you're on.
Richard - If I win the bet and survive I want my winnings in cigarettes, since they are the only fungible currency in prison, otherwise just give it to my surviving relatives.
In August 2006, Overheard at the terrorist water cooler.
Terrorist A - I bet you I can get airline passengers even crankier than that show bomber guy by getting all water and soda (they'll get thirsty), perfumes and deodorants (they'll get smelly), toothpaste (their breath will smell), suntan lotion (sunburned in August!) and every other liquid and gel banned on airplanes.
Terrorist B - Oh, yeah. I'll do you one better by also getting every electronic device larger than a watch banned also. Without laptops and iPods they will go insane on those long flights.
Terrorist A - OK, you're on, but if they allow breastmilk and baby formula I'm only paying you or your surviving relations half the bet.
I understand that loss of life is incalculable, but hypothetically speaking, how would one balance prevention of an attack against all of the cost, time lost and inconvenience of security measures that are intended to catch highly unlikely, rare events. Some econometrician somewhere is doing this calculation and I would love to see their results.
tags: terrorism, travel, security screening