The TSA's plan for tricking terrorists

Scissors and screwdrivers are welcome, but you'll never know if you're going to have to take off your shoes.

By Tim Grieve
Published December 2, 2005 2:49PM (EST)

The Bush administration can't seem to catch the man responsible for the attacks of 9/11, but the Transportation Security Administration thinks it has figured out a way to outsmart him. As TSA Chief Kip Hawley announced today that passengers will now be free to take small scissors and screwdrivers on planes -- we can't tell you how often we've wanted to work on home-improvement projects while circling O'Hare -- he said that the TSA has come up with some clever ways to befuddle the evildoers.

"It is paramount to the security of our aviation system that terrorists not be able to know with certainty what screening procedures they will encounter at airports around the nation," Hawley said. "By incorporating unpredictability into our procedures and eliminating low-threat items, we can better focus our efforts on stopping individuals who wish to do us harm."

We always thought that the "unpredicability" of our encounters with airport screeners was simply the result of incompetence and the arbitrary abuse of power. But it turns out that it's all part of the grand plan, the -- dare we say it? -- "National Strategy for Victory." And the Associated Press says we're going to see even more of it in the future. Airline passengers "can expect more randomness at security gates so would-be terrorists won't know for sure what they will see," the AP writes. "For example, an airport might require all passengers to remove their shoes one day but not the next."

Somewhere in the caves of Pakistan, Osama bin Laden is laughing.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Osama Bin Laden Transportation Security Administration War Room