I’m sitting in transit in Auckland International Airport (can anyone think of another city that ends in “land”?). I just had my toothpaste confiscated. Now, I’m not that annoyed that my toothpaste got confiscated, it was nearly empty and I’m sure my teeth will survive the 4 hour flight to Melbourne. What annoys me is that this whole new airport security thing is just about the most utterly useless, unecessary and annoying product of bureaucracy that I can think of (and I can think of a few). The regulation goes something like this: All containers of liquids or gels of over 100ml are not permitted and any which are under 100ml must be placed in a clear plastic bag whose capacity must not exceed 1 litre.
Now, I have no formal qualifications in the field of security, but I fail to see what this could possibly achieve. The introduction of tighter measures such as removal of shoes (which is still niether widely carried out nor strictly enforced) makes sense as it is a well-known fact that it is easy to hide a bladed weapon in the soles of one’s shoes where it won’t get picked up by the metal detectors. The liquids thing is really very daft. I imagine that the concern is that people may be able to take the seperate ingredients of an explosive device onto a plane in liquid containers and then manufacture their bomb while onboard. This is a legitimate concern. The regulations, however, do nothing to stop this possibility from happening. Liquids, being liquid, can easily be divided into many small containers (each smaller than 100ml) and therefore the new regulation does little more than cause inconvenience to the vast majority of passengers who are not terrorists.
If all of this is a response to the 9/11 attacks, then this is all even stupider. The terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks were armed with small knives, not bombs. I believe that they also told passengers that there was a bomb on the plane (which was a half-lie – the bomb was the plane itself) and thus gained control of the aircraft. Now, I think that tighter security on flights is a good thing. The fact that it has resulted as an inaccurate response to the 9/11 attacks doesn’t really bother me. Tighter security needs to be effective though, and this is not. At best, it is a minor inconvenience to everyone who is not a terrorist and, at worst, it is a minor victory for “enemies of freedom” as we so like to call these terrorists.