Sunday, December 27, 2009

Passengers leave seats to thwart terrorists; Government reacts by keeping passengers in their seats

I am not making any of this up. I've double-checked all of it for accuracy as best I can.

Ever wonder how regulations are born? Ever wonder where all the red tape comes from? Have you ever wondered why it takes a day's worth of paperwork to ship a clock from overseas on Federal Express?

Here's Mark Steyn, on the recently thwarted terrorist attack on an airliner:

On September 11th 2001, the government's (1970s) security procedures all failed, and the only good news of the day came from self-reliant citizens (on Flight 93) using their own wits and a willingness to act.

On December 25th 2009, the government's (post-9/11) security procedures all failed, and the only good news came once again from alert individuals:

From an interview of one of the heroes, quoted by the New York Post:

"Suddenly, we hear a bang. It sounded like a firecracker went off," said Jasper Schuringa, a film director who was traveling to the US to visit friends.

"When [it] went off, everybody panicked ... Then someone screamed, ‘Fire! Fire!’"

Schuringa, sitting in seat 20J, in the right-most section of the Airbus 330, looked to his left. "I saw smoke rising from a seat ... I didn’t hesitate. I just jumped," he said.

Schuringa dove over four passengers to reach Abdul Mutallab’s seat. The suspect had a blanket on his lap. "It was smoking and there were flames coming from beneath his legs."

"I searched on his body parts and he had his pants open. He had something strapped to his legs."
The unassuming hero ripped the flaming, molten object — which resembled a small, white shampoo bottle — off Abdul Mutallab’s left leg, near his crotch. He said he put out the fire with his bare hands.

Schuringa yelled for water, and members of the flight crew soon appeared with fire extinguishers. Then, he said, he hauled the suspect out of the seat.

Ok, so some wide-awake passengers rose from their seats to prevent a disaster in a situation where the regulators failed.

How have the government regulators responded? Here's Joan Lowy, writing for the Associated Press:

Some airlines were telling passengers on Saturday that new government security regulations prohibit them from leaving their seats beginning an hour before landing.

....Flight attendants on some domestic flights are informing passengers of similar rules. Passengers on a flight from New York to Tampa Saturday morning were also told they must remain in their seats and couldn't have items in their laps, including laptops and pillows.

The TSA issued a security directive for U.S.-bound flights from overseas, according to a transportation security official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly.

Here's Rand Simberg, with Pajamas Media: usual, the new measures, hastily put into place because something happened, will be measures that would likely have had no effect on what happened. But since they already had measures in place, and something happened anyway, they have to do something new to keep the curtains open in the theater.

Yep. The new regulations will be pointless, but we must be given the impression that our government is doing something. The show must go on.

Pics came from here and here and here and here. (The last one in the series is the one you're looking for.)
Also, I'm particularly proud of the labels for this post. Almost all of them reward further reading.

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