Today’s Opinion Journal runs a piece with the subhead “What Britain can teach America about counterterrorism”. The answer is “Nothing!” – the Brits have managed this threat with world-class incompetence.
It’s possible that MI5 did a good job, but if so it’s an island in a sea of Brit incompetence, control freakery, and moral decay. The handling of the terror alert illustrates all of these.
The Incompetently Overblown Threat
The deputy chief Brit cop characterized this as “A plan to commit unimaginable mass murder”.
This is hysteria. First, the liquid explosive threat is overblown (no pun):
Liquid explosives have been around for a long time. But these explosives share two bad traits. They are either very unstable (like nitroglycerin), or subject to deterioration as the different elements suspended in the liquid settle, and become less explosive.
Second, it’s very hard to bring down an airliner because – surprise – the designers build them to survive bombs! That means triple redundancy in all systems, routing them to avoid single points of failure, and designing the airframe to withstand massive damage.
For example, I once flew to Japan on UA811 in a sister plane of one that the day before suffered a cargo door blowout. This led to a passenger still strapped in his seat being sucked out and through the engine – I particularly remember it because I was sitting in the same seat. The huge hole (follow link above, scroll down) did not take the plane down – it lost pressure, everybody grabbed an oxygen mask, the pilot dived below 6,000 feet, and then limped home.
So this terror threat was never going to be a repeat of 9/11, and even making small holes would have required nitroglycerine, which would likely have detonated on the ride to the airport.
The Control Freak Response
The Brit Government responded with gross incompetence by deciding to search everybody going everywhere for everything. That meant that – immediately – they needed 4 times more screeners. No organization can quadruple its output overnight – think of the logistics of finding that many security screened people to do reliable hand searches!
Any competent manager would have focused finite resources on the biggest threat. That threat was to flights to the US and he would have concentrated on them and left unmolested the families flying to vacation in Europe.
But the Blair team’s control freakery overcame them, so they dumped on very Brit they could find – I wonder who had the bright idea of forcing harassed mothers to carry their unwrapped tampons in transparent bags? One thing’s for sure, they won’t be flying again.
Then there was the steal my laptop ruling, which shut down business travel. After I suspect some severe kicking from Brit financial companies, they just grudgingly rescinded this. But they’ll switch back as soon as there’s an excuse, so we’re not flying to the UK.
The Incompetent Implementation
British Airports Authority runs most Brit airports. It’s one of Mrs. Thatcher’s less successful privatizations since it was given a monopoly and so runs at Microsoft-level profitability and gives lousy service. It’s so profitable that Goldman Sachs tried to buy it, and these guys only get out of bed for gold plated assets. Sadly they lost out to a dubious Spanish outfit.
So the implementation of the ridiculous government security measures was left to a Spanish owned fat-cat managed monopoly, which reacted with predictable contempt for its customers:
Yesterday was another day of airport misery, with passengers stranded in the rain outside terminal buildings because tents erected as makeshift holding pens were full.
Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of Ryanair, accused airport security officers of treating travelers “like terrorists”. He said: “I came through Gatwick this morning. Most of the people in queues were families traveling with young children or with elderly parents.
“These are not a terrorist threat, these are not extremists.
These folks won’t be flying again for a few years.
The Morally Blind Refusal To Profile
The Brit establishment inflicted all this pain and loss on ordinary people because it won’t acknowledge the only threat is only from Muslims. So, as soon as the raids took place:
Muslim community leaders were contacted by the police and Government officials early this morning as the first statements were released to the press.
This is ridiculous – how could the cops know these Muslim leaders wouldn’t warn the bad guys?
Most of the Brit Muslim community is deranged: 56% of Brit Muslims don’t think Arabs did 9/11, and 81% think of themselves as Muslim first (only 7% think they’re Brit first).
The Brit elite’s pandering to the Muslim community is so extreme that, although I hope the following is a Reuters fabrication, I fear it isn’t:
A five-year-old girl’s passport application was rejected because it shows her bare shoulders and might offend Muslims.
So, Americans should believe nothing they read about the superiority of the Brit government. The US government – even with its leakers, flaky INS, and officious TSA – doesn’t come close to the awfulness of the elites governing the suffering Brits.