Thursday, August 10, 2006

Liquid Bomb Plot Foiled

The U.S. Homeland Security terror alert system has gone to the red level for the first time since the system was put in place, indicating that the risk of a terror attack is severe. Canada's National Post reports British counter-terrorism efforts have foiled a huge terrorist plot, once again aimed at using airplanes to spread death and destruction. As before, the targets were U.S. cities--New York, Washington, and some Californian Metropoli, although this time the origin was Heathrow airport in London. The plan was to smuggle chemicals on board disguised as common liquids--i.e. the shampoo that we all stow in our carry-on luggage so that it won't swell and dump all over our clothes when the baggage compartment decompresses with altitude. Once airborne, these chemicals were to be combined to explode the planes, no doubt at strategic points chosen to maximize the damage the planes would cause upon impact. The triggers would be hidden as common electronic equipment.

The plan, apparently, came very close to succeeding, and now there are a whole list of new restrictions aimed at preventing the possibility of any similar plot making it past the layers of security that stopped this one. No more carrying spillables into the cabin with you. No more bringing along extra water bottles so that you don't have to pay four dollars for something to drink on long layovers. Cell phones, laptops, and other portable electronic devices we all carry, rather than check, are also on the not-any-more list. It looks like the bans are going to be sticking around for a while, too. One more strike against flying over driving. Of course, these new standards are completely reasonable given the risk. Inconvenient as all get out, but completely reasonable. Makes me want to invest in that flying car I wrote about a while ago.

I have friends who are flying from Portland to New York tomorrow, with two layovers, and thirteen hours from start to finish travel time. Yuck. Now add to that the fact that they can't take water for the trip, or an iPod or laptop to pass the time, and their vacation is not going to start off particularly comfortably. One of my friends also has strep throat, which just basically sucks, especially without lots of water to stay hydrated. On the other hand, the trip can only get better from there, so maybe the travel part will just enhance the being there part by comparison. I hope so, for their sake.

I, like all of you I'm sure, am simply infuriated by this. STOP TRYING TO KILL US, YOU STUPID JERKS!! Even when they fail, the loonies manage to make our lives more hassle-ridden, which obviously suits them just fine. The stupid terrorists had already ruined air travel for just about everybody. Remember the days when loved ones could actually see you off at the gate, and meet you with balloons and smiles when you came home? Now it's "call on the cell phone when you get there and I'll pick you up outside." Oh, wait, we can't take cell phones on the plane anymore. Now we get to wait till we retrieve our bags and all dig around in our luggage in order to make that call. That, or stand in line for the pay phone. Yippee.

Okay, vent over. I do have to say one really positive thing in the midst of all this. It's absolutely astounding to me that British authorities managed to discover, and halt, this whole scheme. Homeland Security, and it's foreign equivalents around the globe have been absolutely amazing for the last five years. I know the plot was on the verge of being carried out, but it didn't happen, thanks to the efforts of the people who are always working to protect us. Color me completely impressed.

Hat tip: Instapundit for the link, the entire blogosphere for the topic. Once again, you can go to Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and Pajamas Media for the latest links and info.

Update: Lara Jakes Jordan of The Associated Press is reporting that the terrorists were planning a dry run of their scheme within a couple of days, and the attack to follow hard on its heels--with as many as ten planes targeted. Scary.

Update II: Again from Instapundit--ABC News has more details of the plot, and info on those terrorists who thus far have evaded capture. As of yesterday, British authorities had captured 21 suspects, but they believe at least five are still at large, some of whom might be the leaders.

Update III: There's a useful comment (from the comments section shockingly enough) that links a Detroit Free Press article saying that laptops and cell phones will be allowed as part of your carry-on luggage. That will be a relief to all those business commuters looking to get something done in flight.