MSNBC reports,

Travelers may encounter longer lines at airports as screeners focus extra attention on CD players, cameras, laptops and other electronic gadgets that terrorists might try to use to conceal weapons or bombs. The Homeland Security Department on Tuesday sent an advisory to law enforcement personnel nationwide alerting them to the possibility al-Qaida could use electronics to carry out attacks.

“AL-QAIDA OPERATIVES have shown a special interest in converting a camera flash attachment into a stun gun type of weapon or improvised explosive device,” the advisory said.

David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, said longer lines will be a small price to pay for extra security. “There’s one thing worse than being slightly inconvenienced–it’s being permanently inconvenienced,” he said.

This is certainly a tough one. Obviously, we want to maximize our safety and minimize our inconvenience. But by the Redhead standard, the possibility of security precautions becoming even more idiotic is unbounded.

Further, absent some scanning technology of which I’m unaware, this seems worthless to me. Surely, they’re not going to have security guards taking apart our gear to look inside for a bomb (or, notes with the word “bomb” in them)? Indeed, it seems like it would make more sense to simply ban carry-on luggage consisting of more than some light reading material. It’d be a lot easier to get people through security if we’d quit letting people bring on mini suitcases that barely fit into those tiny overhead bins (or the front of your seat).

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology, Terrorism, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Paul says:

    But the reality is the airlines can’t live without carry ons.

    It is self service baggage handling. They don’t have the staff to move all those bags.

    And the belly of the plane is not big enough to hold it all. We would require a whole new civil fleet to make that a reality.

    Further they would just have to spend more time looking at checked baggage that can be controlled with timers and remote controls meaning the same if not longer delays. You would just be required to get your bags there earlier.

    Lastly from a tactical point of view we want carry ons. If the bad guys are required to put nefarious devices in checked bags they will be harder to find.

    I don’t know the magic solution but this proposal is just not practical.