More ways to fight air terrorism

From: Nathan Woods Currier (
Date: Thu Sep 20 2001 - 17:41:56 MDT

> Think about the implications: since it is therefore impossible to
> prevent all passengers from being armed unless we choose to live in a
> big brother police state, we MUST have armed people on every flight.

I completely agree. Terrorists will always find ways to get weapons on a
plane, or use seemingly harmless objects as weapons. Imagine two pens,
held between the knuckles, and rammed through the pilot's eyeballs with a
Three Stooges punch. Or better yet, the terrorists could be trained in
martial-arts neck-snapping, which is invisible to all detectors. Sky
Marshalls would be a minimal deterrent, since there will always be a
sneaky way to disable them.

A grenade-proof, airtight cockpit would help. So would ground control
overrides, which could be made much more secure than the plane itself.
There could be many bunkers, each using a different encryption algorithm.
They could collectively take control of a plane after a suspicious course
change, a signal from the pilot, etc. Maybe the ground stations could be
in control by default, with each plane's controls in a locked box and the
pilots riding incognito with the passengers. The pilots could have ways
of instantly making themselves and the lock-boxes useless to terrorists.
Since many crashes are caused by pilot error, computer control might
actually be safer. Computers could also work 24-7 without being crank
addicts. For a rapid emergency response, passengers could have terrorism
buttons which also activate cameras throughout the plane. A short-term
fix might be a FEMA number written on every seat back, so those with cell
phones can call in directly. No time wasted with agency-hopping goose
chases by phone.

These methods could work, but for sheer robustness, it is hard to beat
armed passengers. Maybe AK-47s should be disallowed, since you don't want
much hull-piercing ability in the hands of the drunken baboons who
sometimes go berserk on flights. I would feel most safe if all
passengers could borrow stun guns and swords at the gate. Unfortunately,
this is politically impossible.

For those out there collecting useful ideas to send to the government,
consider this one:

Beneath each seat, there is a locked box containing a stun gun, pepper
spray, a gas mask, and daggers. Each passenger also has a button. If 50%
of the passengers press their buttons, then all weapons caches pop open.
Ground control can also open the boxes remotely. Tampering with the boxes
or pressing the buttons alone causes alarms and flashing lights to go off
above the respective seats, for all the other passengers to see. With
these constraints the boxes will always open with terrorists on board,
but they will never open at other times. People used to think that
hijackers would fly the plane to Lebanon and ransom the passengers for
an equal number of Palestinian prisoners, so it was best for passengers
not to resist. After last Tuesday's atrocities, passengers will think
they have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attacking highjackers.
Even so, when you subtract all the grannies, kids, wussies, etc. you might
only have 15% of the passengers physically and mentally capable of
challenging the highjackers. 5 tough, armed highjackers might be able to
hold off all the passengers, if the passengers are unarmed. However, if
the passengers are armed then the highjackers don't stand a chance unless
they're a significant portion of the passengers, which is clearly an
impractical waste of precious kamikaze psychos.

When considered in terms of game theory, it seems this system would
surely prevent terrorists from using passenger jets as cruise missiles.
If combined with highly effective explosives sniffing, terrorists wouldn't
even be able to crash a plane into the ground, because passengers could
always do talk-down landings if the pilots are killed. Air terrorism
would become pointless, since the terrorists could get a higher body
counts by shooting into a crowded city street. Our government would be
wise to consider game theory and creative solutions, instead of the
ineffective or counterproductive knee-jerk freedom-squashing "solutions"
it deploys in most matters.

A handful of other quick thoughts...

- For 2015-2020: AI pilots (just be sure to keep them away from holy
books and other insanity-inducing memes!).

- Call your representatives in support of H.R. 2896, which would allow
armed pilots. Urge that it be extended to flight crew.

- The terrorists attacked us because of our short-sighted and selfish
meddling with other nations. I'm surprised airliner attacks didn't happen
earlier, and I'm surprised Latin America hasn't terrorized us yet.
However, if we continue with our policy of installing and supporting
brutal dictatorships (including Israel), we will probably see a nuclear
or biological attack within the decade.

- If a tanker ship comes out of the Middle East carrying oil+fertilizer
instead of just oil, it could have the explosive power of a tactical nuke.

- It is rather disturbing that the terrorists didn't wait until Bush
eventually returned to the White House. They could have killed him
easily, while the nation was unwary. Why didn't they do it? What else
do they have up their sleeves? A government-decapitating attack on
Washington these days would also be a severe psychological blow,
because it would show that we are vulnerable even with security at a
maximum. If the terrorists are smart, they won't use the same method

- I support surgical bombing of Afghanistan (not much to destroy) and
commando raids to seize/kill Bin Laden, his sidekicks, and his Taliban

- Note to you spooks who read my keyword-stuffed mail: You don't have a
warrant, so piss off. You Big Brother types have caused more misery than
the terrorists. You would burn the Bill of Rights if given half a
chance. You've already gutted the 4th and 5th amendments, and you're
working hard on the 1st and 2nd. Now that you have an excuse to finish
the job, I can only hope that freedom-loving Americans won't be stupid
or complacent enough to let you do it. It's a slim hope.

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