Travel checks just offer false sense of security
Published 02/11/2010 | 05:00
A novelist would regard it as too crudely ironic, yet these are the facts: the very day after the chairman of British Airways broke cover to denounce the "completely redundant" security checks to which his passengers are subjected, the security services discover ink cartridges rigged with explosives on board a cargo plane at East Midlands airport, en route to the US from Yemen.
Despite the fact that the booby-trapped cartridges were addressed to two synagogues in Chicago, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the intention was for the devices to be set off while in mid-air, allowing newspapers to declare that this would have been "another Lockerbie". In such an atmosphere of fear, the BA chairman's demand that we stop "kowtowing to America" in imposing "redundant" security checks (such as those involving the scrutiny of passengers' footwear) seems doomed to be dismissed, even though it is objectively as reasonable a remark now as when he uttered it.
I wouldn't dream of suggesting that the people denounced yesterday by Ryanair's Michael O'Leary as "the securocracy" are actually pleased by this development; no, the happier crew will be the bomb-makers, because the disruption of Western lives and businesses through the implementation of ferocious security measures is a principal objective. Even their failures can be judged a success, as long as we, in the West, react hysterically.