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[P]
Practical Security

By Dlugar in Op-Ed
Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 06:57:07 PM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

Many have said that the biggest breakdown in security happened at the airports and the airlines, and I agree. Stringent security checks are being implemented in airports all over this country. But will this help?


No more curb-side checks, I've heard. No more easily getting through security checkpoints with pocketknives or metal implants. More in-depth checks and scans of checked baggages. The one question I have is simple: would any of this have stopped the September 11th hijacking?

If not, as apparently seems to be the answer, how can we prevent these sorts of attacks from happening again? It would be an utter disgrace to this country if, after all these "stringent security measures" were implemented, some people taped plastic knives to their bodies and repeated this sickening and tragic event.

An obvious solution is strip searches or machines that "see through clothes", but that would likely be prohibitively expensive even if the public were to subject themselves to it. And it is possible that something that could be hypothetically be used as a weapon might still be gotten through airport security.

A solution I have seen several times (which I think is a very good one) is to provide a barrier between the pilot and the cabin. Something at least much thicker than is currently there is necessary; some even have suggested an impassable barrier, forcing the pilots to enter and exit the plane from entirely separate doors.

That is a solution that does not remove any of our preciously-guarded freedoms, and yet solves quite handily the problem of hijacking to crash into buildings. Hostages still might be taken, but no pilot would ever willingly down his plane in such a heavily populated area.

Another solution might be to place armed guards on flights. There are many variants on this: armed guards only on long flights, or simply on random flights so as to discourage hijacking in general. Again, few freedoms are compromised and yet the benefits are great.

What solutions do you all see as having the greatest trade-off between keeping as many freedoms as possible and actually solving the problem of hijacking? And what "solutions" do you see being implemented that do not solve these problems?

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Display: Sort:
Practical Security | 48 comments (46 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Decent pay (4.90 / 11) (#1)
by wiredog on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 02:56:39 PM EST

From the LA Times

"Security screening employees at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport make about as much as the airport's janitors. Scratch that. The janitors do better. They both earn $16,700 a year, but the employees who sweep the floors also get sick pay, health insurance and a pension. Not so for those responsible for detecting guns, knives and bombs in passenger luggage."

The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.
Phage

High pay, and keep them on their toes (4.66 / 3) (#23)
by codemonkey_uk on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 08:21:18 AM EST

With random tests. That is, people payed to test the security at random intervals. Instant dismissal if they fail the test.
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]
Catch 22 Situation... (2.50 / 2) (#39)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:40:07 PM EST

If you treat a wealthy businessman as a suspected terrorist, he'll phone your superiours and get you fired. On the other hand, if you don't, you could be fired for not adhering to the zero tolerance protocol.

Well, that's just a risk you have to take, I guess.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

See, that requires the assumption (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by ZanThrax on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:41:20 AM EST

that the superiour doesn't just listen politely, thank self-important wealthy person for informing the company, and then simply ignore it. Its not just a matter of paying the security sufficiently to avoid corruption and only hire competent security personel; administration must not be pressuring them to keep things moving at the expense of security. Its not the minimum wage guys on the floor that are to blame for people getting waved through with the simple "did you pack the bag yourself? Is there anything dangerous hidden in your steel-toed boots?" questions - its their supervisors telling them to do so.

Reasons are not excuses and retaliation is not justice.


[ Parent ]
That's not a catch 22 situation (none / 0) (#48)
by codemonkey_uk on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 07:41:55 AM EST

"I'm sorry sir, but its airport policy."

Why would the guard be fired for doing his job?
---
Thad
"The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

That's a turn up for the books! (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by greenrd on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 05:36:14 PM EST

An American arguing for decent pay?!?! I must be dreaming. Whatever happened to the old "the market rate is a fair rate" theory?

(Sorry, couldn't resist! ;)


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

fighting the last battle (3.77 / 9) (#2)
by adamba on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 03:53:47 PM EST

It is easy to suggest measures that would have prevented *this* attack. The issue is finding things that will prevent the next attack.

Separate doors for pilots...that requires retrofitting every plane. How do they go to the bathroom? What if the pilots become incapacitated and a pilot who happens to be sitting in the passenger seats can't get to the cockpit? What if the pilots need medical aid?

I don't think you can prevent terrorism without subjecting people to more inconvenience than they will tolerate -- they would tolerate it now, but not in six months.

Keep in mind that the airport security system, as far as can be told, functioned as it was designed -- no weapon currently deemed illegal was brought on board, the pilots acted as they were trained to do in such a situation, and so on. Will people tolerate being told they have to leave their shaving kits at the checkin? No way.

Look they say 4000 dead from this...by coincidence, that is about the number of Americans who have died from smoking cigarettes in the time since the attack happened. In the end people agree to trade risk for lifestyle and money savings, in hundreds of ways.

- adam

You haven't thought this through very well. (3.75 / 4) (#9)
by hjones on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 09:26:07 PM EST

First, why not give the pilots their own toilet? Considering what's at stake, that doesn't seem too much to ask. Why even raise this objection?

Second, if you really think Americans are stupid enough to value convenience over personal safety, then you must have a very low opinion of the average Americans' intelligence. I do hope your estimate is wrong.

And to equate the deaths of those poor people in the airplanes with the deaths of smokers borders on the monstrous.


"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
[ Parent ]

He's a typical Microsoft supporter. (2.00 / 5) (#13)
by marlowe on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 10:44:06 PM EST

He thinks that most people don't care about safety, and that's an excuse for him not to care, and to spew his scorn on anyone who has the gumption to care. This is precisely the sort of attitude that is sending our country to Hell in a handbasket.

Safety matters, folks. Seat belts aren't too much trouble. Nor are air bags, crumple zones, baby seats, crash cages, meaningful airport security and radically redesigning our commercial passenger aircraft. And firewalls and security patches for servers. And getting Microsoft products and their viruses and Code Reds off of the friggin' Internet. Do what it takes. That's just plain survival.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Actually he's basically right (4.25 / 4) (#24)
by thejeff on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 08:24:32 AM EST

First, why not give the pilots their own toilet? Considering what's at stake, that doesn't seem too much to ask. Why even raise this objection?

Because it would involve replacing or retrofitting every plane in service. I doubt adding a separate outside door for pilots to existing craft is feasable. You can't just cut a hole in a plane and slap in a door. It changes the aerodynamics and probably would drastically weaken the structural integrity of the airframe.

Replacing the fleet would take several years before new designs could be approved, more than a decade before enough could be built and bankrupt most airlines replacing the planes.

Second, if you really think Americans are stupid enough to value convenience over personal safety, then you must have a very low opinion of the average Americans' intelligence. I do hope your estimate is wrong.

I am an American, I do not always do things to maximise my personal safety. I drive for example and my car does not have rollbars, five point restraints, a crash cage etc. My new car does have airbags, my previous one did not. I sometimes drive a fairly high speeds or when I am tired enough that I know my reflexes are not at 100%. I doubt I am unusual in this, either in America or in the rest of the world. Safety is not the highest value.

And to equate the deaths of those poor people in the airplanes with the deaths of smokers borders on the monstrous.

Perhaps the intent was not to equate the deaths, but merely to point out that anyone who smokes is definately valuing their safety over whatever pleasure smoking gives them.

thejeff

[ Parent ]

That's what annoys me... (4.77 / 9) (#3)
by Scandal on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 04:31:17 PM EST

If any of these knee-jerk reactions which the various governmental agencies are coming up with would actually have prevented the problem, then I could agree to them.

But it wasn't the terrorists' curb-side checked-in luggage which contained their weapons, was it? The only thing the FAA is doing now is trying to "look responsible", by "being tough" with "remedies" which don't address the real problems. In the process, by making everyone's lives more difficult, they're doing EXACTLY what the terrorists were hoping would happen.

The terrorists WANT America to change. The terrorists WANT Americans to lose their freedoms. And the terrorists are getting exactly what they wanted. Right now, every governmental organization is falling all over itself to institute the very kinds of changes that the terrorists wanted to inspire.

The terrorists have already won. No matter what our response to them is, our response to ourselves has already given them all the victory they need.

*Scandal*


Can you prevent? (4.40 / 5) (#6)
by mmcc on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 08:30:37 PM EST

Basically, you can't. No matter how much you tighten security, the attacker always has the advantage. Tightening security will only turn your own country into a police state.

Either you alter the policies that led others to despise you, or accept some "colateral damage" is a result of those policies.

The more you try to fight, the more you will get hurt, even if you win the fight. It's got nothing to do with who's right or wrong.



Complacency and freedom (3.33 / 3) (#20)
by Scrymarch on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:23:51 AM EST

The bus-level security on US domestic flights wasn't freedom, it was complacency. Is using international grade-tech on domestic flights a loss of freedom. Granted it may not have stopped this attack, which tragically played on hostage expectations from other attacks.

[ Parent ]
What solutions? Random thoughts (3.50 / 4) (#7)
by fink on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 08:37:24 PM EST

To be perfectly honest, I don't see a "good" solution being implemented, at all. Sorry for being so pessimistic... I believe that a physical barrier between flight crew and the passenger cabin is a good idea, but I can't see any aircraft manufacturer (either The Boeing Company or Airbus Industrie, as the two major widebody players) implementing it.

Why do I say this? Firstly, it will cost a truckload to modify/retrofit existing aircraft designs, so I doubt you will see it in existing aircraft lines. Certainly, the cost of doing this is far outweighed by the cost of the accident, but I imagine that a cost/benefit analysis would find it more expensive than it was worth. Secondly, there are weight considerations, and other "tolerance" issues to take into consideration, such as stresses already present on the airframe.

In general, aircraft designs as much as possible are based on the concept of commonality; that is, any new aircraft is similar to existing aircraft. The reason for this is so that air and ground crew need not retrain for each type, a simple familiarisation course would be suitable. In addition to this, it allows ground support to keep less stock on hand, thereby saving cost - for example, most of the internals of the B757 and B767 are similar; ergo a lot of the parts can be "mixed and matched" for these types.
I needn't point out that to retrofit existing aircraft lines (and any new derivatives) with a "firewall" between aircrew and passenger, and an additional pressure door and associated paraphernalia, would be a hugely difficult and expensive task - if existing aircraft designs allowed it at all. New aircraft designs, such as the "Boeing Sonic Cruiser" that has been mentioned once or twice, will probably share some commonality with existing designs - I would predict that a large proportion of the airframe, particularly the centre of the fuselage, will remain the same as it is currently. Aerodynamically, it works.

Aircraft tolerances are tight at the best of times - an example is the speed, at altitude, at which an aircraft must fly (it's so-called Mach number). Often, at altitude, there is a very limited gap between the minimum safe flying speed of the aircraft, and the maximum safe flying speed. Too slow, and the aircraft suffers a stall. Too fast, and the airspeed relative to some "bumps" on the airframe, such as antennas, exceeds the speed of sound, causing excess stress on those components (and the skin of the airframe). Adding extra "bits" to the aircraft (extra doors included) adds extra variables which need to be controlled and measured; this is an expensive process. Once again, it's cheap compared to the cost of lives, but the cost of making the modifications may well exceed the benefit of doing so, on average.

An alternative solution would be to put a better physical boundary between the cockpit and the cabin itself - say a more secure door (bullet-proof? fire-proof?) with stronger interlocks, which mandatorily is locked while the aircraft is in transit, and must be unlocked from the cockpit side. This might work, although there is still margin for error (locks fail, people forget to arm locks, suitably determined criminals will find ways around it, etc). It would take quite a push for this to be implemented, however, as once again this may require extensive modifications which both airlines and manufacturers would be resistant to making.

I don't know what US air law is like, but I know that it is very rare that the transponder needs to be or should be switched off in-flight, here in Australia. Matter of fact, I believe it should never be switched off in-flight. Perhaps some form of interlock on the transponder is required; a code, perhaps, something like the RSA SecurID codes, that changes regularly and can only be supplied by a central authority, should be required to change the transponder to the off state. Any attempt to switch the transponder off, could perhaps lead to automatic (and silent) change to the emergency state. While this would not prevent incidents like this, it would certainly give authorities some time to react, and a clear method for identifying the aircraft.

A physical, complete, barrier is by far the most effective way of preventing access to the cockpit, but the expense will probably rule it out. On the other hand, the "next best" efforts are probably not good enough.

I know this is a hard time for those who live in the US, and I hope this comment hasn't struck a nerve.

Regards,
    Iain.


----

Sheesh, tech geeks. (4.16 / 6) (#8)
by EriKZ on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 09:24:31 PM EST

Why not bring back armed plainclothes guards on every flight? Make it federal law.



Air Crew (4.40 / 5) (#10)
by decoy on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 10:13:41 PM EST

I'm in favor of just giving the pilots and the flight attendants guns, and training them how to use them. They could be backed up by air marshals in times of alert, but having another crew member with just raise the price of air travel. We just need to give the crew the tools to deal with hijackers themselves.

[ Parent ]
Pressurized vessel + gun? (4.00 / 4) (#15)
by rusty on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 01:02:00 AM EST

ESR brought up this point too, in his inane essay about this. Putting guns on airplanes at all is suicidally stupid. A commercial airliner, at altitude, is a sealed pressurized tube. Shooting a gun within it is a great way to puncture or fatally weaken the shell of that tube, which will in turn create a gaping hole in your airplane, and in all likelihood crash it faster than any hijacker ever could. I can only take comfort in knowing that the people who make these decisions perfectly well know that, and would never dream of so foolishly endangering all of our safety.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Guns on planes (3.80 / 5) (#17)
by sigwinch on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 02:48:33 AM EST

Shooting a gun within it is a great way to puncture or fatally weaken the shell of that tube, which will in turn create a gaping hole in your airplane,...
A shotgun with a small powder charge, rubber pellets, and a wide pattern wouldn't be too bad. I would worry more about the noise: firing a gun in an enclosed space is a great way to destroy your hearing. A former colleague of mine is deaf in one ear because he decided he didn't need to wear hearing protection at a firing range (at the time he was, to quote him, "young and stupid").

How about issuing a good combat knife to every passenger when they board, and hand out 10 year prison sentences for anyone who doesn't fight hijackers (call it "aiding and abetting"). It's not like they have anything to lose by trying to recapture the plane: they'll be shot down anyway if they fail.

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

That's a solved problem (4.33 / 3) (#28)
by dennis on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 04:53:54 PM EST

Air marshals do carry guns, and they use frangible ammo. This is a bullet composed of a bunch of tiny pellets embedded in epoxy. Hitting a person with it is devastating, it's like a contact shotgun wound. But it won't penetrate the hull of an airplane.

This is nothing new. These rounds are commercially available to anyone, the top brands are MagSafe and the Glaser Safety Slug. Apartment dwellers use them so if they have to use the gun the bullet can't go through a wall and hit their neigbor. SWAT teams use them too.

[ Parent ]

I did not know that (3.50 / 2) (#32)
by rusty on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 01:33:52 AM EST

Thanks for the info. I just saw recently, too, that El Al already has an armed guard on every flight, so I guess they must do much the same thing. Perhaps it's not such a bad idea after all.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
also (4.00 / 2) (#34)
by discodeathrace on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 08:11:19 AM EST

Much the same thing is used by special forces who must board ships to do things like rescue hostages. Prevents the horrible ricochets that can happen when you are fighting on a primarily metal ship.
Life is too short to be me.
[ Parent ]
Technical nitpick (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by warpeightbot on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 12:24:36 AM EST

A commercial airliner, at altitude, is a sealed pressurized tube.
Wrong. An aircraft is *dynamically* pressurized. Ever wonder why the air conditioning is always on in the aircraft - there's always air coming in around the sides even when the overhead vents are closed? That's the pressurization system. The air comes in thru the A/C, and goes out thru a large, adjustable hole (big enough to crawl out of when fully open) in the back of the aircraft. If I were to take my trusty 1911 and put a hole in the side of the aircraft (I would never do so deliberately, but if I did), the valve in the back would simply shut a little bit more to compensate for the .451-sized leak. It would be a little noisy sitting in that row, but it wouldn't even be cold; after all, the air is leaving, not coming in. If a window failed, it would be very noisy, and the draft caused by 400 knots of airspeed would probably make you want to evacuate the rows in front of and behind the window, but nobody would get sucked out or anything like that.... it's only when you have a massive structural failure (like that bird in Hawaii) that people depart the aircraft...

How do I know? My father is a professional pilot; I've been swiping his magazines and reading them for 31 of my 34 years. Learning to read from Business and Commercial Aviation kinda colors your experience...

(BTW, the idea about frangible ammo is still a good one; the one thing you don't want to do in this situation is overpenetrate when you've got 50 rows of innocents behind the one bad guy.... and I still think letting ordinary folks with some training and a background check carry onboard is a Good Idea. IIRC in the history of the US exactly one person has ever committed a violent crime while holding a valid CCW permit... and if somebody does go off his rocker, and his seatmate is carrying sanely, how far d'ya think he'd get? That's right, not very.)

--
An armed society is a polite society.
    -- Heinlein

[ Parent ]

Tactics (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by dennis on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 05:03:37 PM EST

Giving all the uniformed people guns is a positive step I think, but the weakness in doing just that is they are all targets. It's much better if there's another gun or two, somewhere among those couple hundred passengers. That makes the terrorists' job much more complicated. If you have the money you can hire plainclothes guards; if you want to do it for free you can go with ESR's solution.

[ Parent ]
Remark: (3.00 / 1) (#40)
by rajivvarma on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 10:52:41 PM EST

Hello:

Of course, if there are armed marshalls on flights, that means that hijackers don't need to worry about bringing guns on-board: they will be there waiting for them.
Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

[ Parent ]
We've been discussing the impenetrable barrier... (3.25 / 4) (#11)
by marlowe on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 10:35:27 PM EST

over at z.iwethey.org. There's a couple of silly people raising specious objections, but you get that in any crowd. It looks to me like it's at least worth a shot.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Impenetrable barrier (4.66 / 3) (#14)
by rusty on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 12:55:21 AM EST

A "bank vault door" is unfeasable, because of the way commercial airliners are designed. You simply can't cut the pressure vessel in two like that-- neither part would be strong enough to maintain cabin pressure. I saw an airline industry talking-head address that point on CNN or somewhere.

What I was thinking about would be more in the nature of a locking cage-like door, perhaps with a Kevlar panel which covers most of an underlying cage structure, but not all of it (to allow air pressure to equalize). The problem that brings to mind is what happens when both pilots are incapacitated for some reason? It seems to me that the crew and pilots being able to move in and out of the cockpit is pretty desirable.

Possibly the captain of the crew could have a code to enter the cockpit, but that would make him or her a prime target for hijackers. That crewmember would have to literally be willing to die without giving up the code. And such a scheme would suffer the problems any security system would suffer, namely laziness or sloppiness in secret-maintenance.

I don't see any easy answer to stopping terrorism technologically. So many normal actions and items can be used to inflict death and destruction, if done or used in certain ways. We can't restrict everything that could possibly be dangerous, including air travel. I think the solution to this, if there is one at all, is much more likely to be diplomatic and military.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Locks and doors (3.66 / 3) (#16)
by sigwinch on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 02:45:56 AM EST

I don't entirely like the concept of locking doors: they presuppose that none of the flight crew can be controlled or impersonated by the enemy. It does raise the bar for getting control of the plane, but once the terrorists figure out how to overcome that hurdle, the passengers will be unable to do anything. Remember that the passengers of flight 93 were able to successfully mitigate one of the attacks because they had access to the cockpit.

As for access codes: horrible idea. It's pretty trivial to force people to tell codes using drugs. (Which drugs and syringes could be snuck on labelled as insulin.) Moreover, it is possible to make electronics do WEIRD things using powerful radio-frequency fields. The lock electronics would have to be THOROUGHLY well-designed to not have bad failure modes: won't lock, won't unlock, unlocks while exposed to field, etc. (FWIW, I have seen several pieces of life-critical medical equipment that can have their digital electronics disrupted by high-end walkie-talkies. I.e., the actual binary zero-or-five-volts digital electronics that perform computations. Analog disruption is to be expected, but my jaw drops when a digital circuit gets wiped out. Sadly many ciruit boards are susceptible.)

--
I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Semi-permiable barrier (3.50 / 2) (#30)
by physicsgod on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 05:39:06 PM EST

The barrier doesn't have to be pressure-tight, it just has to keep people (and presumably bullets) out. A bulkhead with a couple of vents would do just as good, if not better, a job as the current door with regards to pressure. You'd still have the implementation issue, but I think door locks with cockpit weapons would be a good short term solution.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Armed guards (3.75 / 4) (#12)
by SlydeRule on Thu Sep 13, 2001 at 10:37:06 PM EST

Another solution might be to place armed guards on flights. There are many variants on this: armed guards only on long flights, or simply on random flights so as to discourage hijacking in general.
Now there's an idea. Oh wait, they've already been doing that for decades.

Other Solutions (4.00 / 4) (#18)
by Maxlex on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 03:56:14 AM EST

Guns are definitely a bad idea to have on planes. But what about other, non-lethal weapons? I know the US is doing a lot of research on Tasers, Glue guns and the like. It seems to me that this would be an appropriate arena for such things - close range, lots of innocents about.

The terrorists already implemented a solution. (4.75 / 8) (#19)
by kvan on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 04:48:15 AM EST

Look at Flight 93. In the past, the smart thing to do when your plane was hijacked was to sit tight and follow the hijacker's orders; basically the same behaviour which is smart in any hostage situation.

The terrorists this Tuesday changed that, however. All of a sudden a hijacking can very realistically mean death, not only for you, but for thousands of others.

What makes a terrorist dangerous is that he feels he has nothing to lose, but much to gain. Well, from now on every single passenger on a hijacked flight will be in the situation that they have nothing to lose by fighting back; in fact, it's their only chance of saving their lives, and potentially those of thousands of others. We may see more hijacked planes crashing because of this, but they will not be crashing when or where the terrorists want them to. I suspect potential terrorists will be able to reason the same thing, and so will choose other methods (unless their aim is simply to bring down that one plane).


"Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, most do." - Bertrand Russell


Sort of (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by Scrymarch on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:29:18 AM EST

I suspect terrorists will instead exploit the confusion of precedents this provides. People will be forced to try and work out whether this is a hostage-syndrome hijacking or a suicide-attack hijacking.

A way to keep the plane permanently in contact with the ground seems useful to me. Say an always-on microphone in the passenger section (which is public anyway) and the cockpit. The difference being that the ground can only listen to the cockpit mike/cam if they believe an emergency may be involved.

[ Parent ]

I doubt that will work. (4.25 / 4) (#22)
by kvan on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 06:52:17 AM EST

People will be forced to try and work out whether this is a hostage-syndrome hijacking or a suicide-attack hijacking.

How would you go about this? There is no way to confirm whether or not you're on a suicide flight, unless the terrorists tell you. And if you cannot confirm that you're not on a suicide plane, you logically have to assume that you are. Why? There are four possibilities:

  1. You're on a suicide plane and don't fight back: You die, along with hundreds or thousands of others.
  2. You're on a hostage plane and don't fight back: You are likely to survive.
  3. You're on a suicide plane and fight back: You may survive.
  4. You're on a hostage plane and fight back: You may survive.
Unless you have 100% reliable proof that you are in fact on a hostage plane, you must fight the terrorists to have the greatest chance of surviving, and to minimize loss of life.


"Many people would sooner die than think; in fact, most do." - Bertrand Russell


[ Parent ]
Correct, but (3.50 / 2) (#33)
by Scrymarch on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 05:56:44 AM EST

... people are very bad at this sort of logic. They tend to act more on a balance of probabilities. Being forced to think this through in this manner will sow confusion and indecisiveness. Especially if the next hijack is a hostage-syndrome one.

[ Parent ]
Not smart (3.50 / 4) (#25)
by decaf_dude on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 09:50:25 AM EST

I can imagine a situation where a terrorist calls up the captain and says he will kill one passenger/stewardess every minute the door remains closed.

How many pilots will keep that door closed after hearing screams of someone having their throat slit? Here I'm presuming that terrorists used knives to hijack aircraft as they're easier to slip by security.

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


No door (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by vectro on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 11:47:45 AM EST

But if the compartments are completely seperated, then there is no door; thus not even the pilot could let the terrorists in.

That's not to say that taking hostages couldn't be done; but no pilot would drive the plane into a building, like we saw on Tuesday. Installing a barrier limits the damage a terrorist can cause to those on board the plane.

“The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
[ Parent ]
Remark: (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by rajivvarma on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 10:55:57 PM EST

Hello:

Of course, you are assuming that it is the pilots in the cockpit - and not the terrorists. Since it looks easy to fake a pilot's license because of lax security, what if a terrorist flies the airplane (in order to purposely crash it)? Then, the terrorist can sit tight knowing that no one can enter the cockpit, and the only option left for the US government is to shoot it down, with the civilians on board.
Rajiv Varma
Mirror of DeCSS.

[ Parent ]
Closed Doors.... (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by Elkor on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:10:15 PM EST

Any hijacker that would kill to get their way will kill to demonstrate that they will.

Were I the pilot, I would keep the door closed.

If the hijackers wanted me, as a pilot, to fly them somewhere in exchange for not killing passengers, I would.

But, from now on, the only reason hijackers will want into the cockpit is to put the manner in which the plane is flown in their own control.

THAT is something that every pilot should try to avoid. If it means sacrificing the lives of their passengers, then that will be the choice they must make.

Because as was shown on 9/11 a plane under terrorist control costs more lives than terrorists on a plane.

And, to be cold blooded about it, eventually they will have to stop, otherwise they run out of hostages.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
+1 MLP, Interesting. (3.00 / 4) (#27)
by float1111 on Fri Sep 14, 2001 at 04:42:17 PM EST

"A solution I have seen several times (which I think is a very good one) is to provide a barrier between the pilot and the cabin. Something at least much thicker than is currently there is necessary; some even have suggested an impassable barrier, forcing the pilots to enter and exit the plane from entirely separate doors."

Now, that is quite interesting a solution. Having the pilots enter through the cockpit, and not allow access to the cockpit via any other way, if infact it is feasible, but, what happens if the pilots fall ill, or if they happen to simultaneously die? Who flies the plane in that case? I still think it is an interesting angle to work with, though. It seems much more workable than merely staging people who are armed in planes, as has been suggested. I remember reading on /., about the approach the isrealis have with airport security. They force people to be only able to carry with them bare essentials, and no luggage onboard; Now that seems like a really good thing to look at, after all, wtf needs to have a carry on with all their damn makeup onboard? :)


Israeli airport security (1.20 / 5) (#36)
by Gupi on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 11:01:04 AM EST

You are allowed to carry one bag to the plane. Just like in the US. Stop talking about things you know nothing about. Stop inventing "facts".

[ Parent ]
Facts (3.00 / 2) (#37)
by float1111 on Sun Sep 16, 2001 at 02:11:38 PM EST

Hence my inclusion of "I heard".

I never implied it as a fact, and there is no reason to be so vicious, you merely could've pointed out my error as opposed to flaming me. But I guess common decency is lost among most people nowadays. Besides the General idea made sense.

[ Parent ]
Arming the Proles (4.00 / 6) (#31)
by briandunbar on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 01:18:54 AM EST

Well, not just any prole

. I recall a half-serious idea a long time ago to require all commisioned officers in the U.S. Armed Forces to carry sidearms when on leave, and to be proficient in their use in Close Quarter Battle (CQB).

At any given time, there are a small percentage of uniformed officers transiting airports. You don't have to pay these guys (DOD is doing that) and you're assured of a minimal proficiency. Very minimal, knowing some 2cd Lts that I recall <grin>.

But, why should commisioned officers have all the fun? Allow Joe American to carry (after a long and suitably rigorous course) a concealed weapon anywhere. He would not really have to be good at CQB, just able to hit the X ring under pressure.

I really don't see why people object to having their fellow citizens armed - and I'm not some crusty geezer, I'm a 34 year old father of 3, and hell I voted Green last election.


Feed the poor, eat the rich!

right.... (2.50 / 2) (#43)
by douper on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 01:12:46 PM EST

Let's solve the problem of armed 'citizens' of the USA hijacking planes, by allowing anyone to carry weapons, how do we know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

Deadly air-rage incidents would likely go up, and last time I checked firing a gun on a plane isn't a good idea anyway.

[ Parent ]

Democratically... (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by Elkor on Mon Sep 17, 2001 at 02:17:07 PM EST

how do we know who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?

The Bad Guys are the ones the Good Guys are shooting at.

The Good Guys are the ones with the most guns.

I am being half facetious, but it is also true. If person A tries to take over the plane, and persons B and C try to stop them, then persons B and C are right. 1) because there are more of them (in some cases might DOES make right) and 2) They are opposing someone who is breaking a rule.

Yes, there are plently of counter arguments, and we can nit-pic the details all you want, but the basic premise is, IMO, valid.

Majority Rule. When you PREVENT the majority from protecting themselves from the minority, then you have a tyranny.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
I wont go into all of the obvious analogy here (4.50 / 4) (#35)
by CoolArrow on Sat Sep 15, 2001 at 10:25:45 AM EST

suffice it to say you on a network you can provide the best security equipment available, but if you let someone dialout independenly with a modem while attached? Your just countered that investment. Same with not being able to hire/fire good security staff.

I've talked about this before. Take a look at Bruce Schenier's site www.counterpane.com - this is not a plug for his company there's just a lot of good information there and you can always take a look at the front of a book he published last year called "Secrets and Lies: Secure Living in A Digital World" - his premise is like I feel our transportation premise should be - security is a process not a product.

How many times have you walked through a metal detector after just having checked bags in with someone who asked if you packed it yourself "yes", any bad stuff in there? "no" any strangers put bad stuff in your bags? "no"....
OKAY PHIL This ones CLEAN let HIM THROUGH!!!

Until the practices in place are used why are we going add more - that wont be used either.

Two Walls (2.00 / 1) (#46)
by eurisko on Tue Sep 18, 2001 at 12:07:25 AM EST

two unalterable variables:
1. armed gaurd in the cabin
2. the pilot under NO CIRCUMSTANCES leaves the cockpit, nor does anyone enter.

beyond that, safty mechanisms:
Two walls, approx 2 meters apart, seperating the cockpit and the passenger cabin, both bullet-proof and absurdly thick. both would have doors, so as not to completely alter the planes by adding some sort of seperate pilot entrance (needlessly expensive, imho). both doors would, of course, be locked a dozen different ways and too sturdy for a line-backer to break down, *if* they even take the form of normal 'doors', as we think of them. in the event the first door does get forced open, two nifty many-inch-thick steel walls would slam down from the ceiling just inside and outside the first wall, much like the walls that slam up from the bank teller's counter tops in banks in many countries around the world. these walls would either be automatic (5-10 seconds after the first door was opened, or possibly be controlled by a button either located in the cockpit or near one of the flight attendant stations. and there are two walls because presumably the newly forced-open door would jam one of them, as that door must be facing at least one direction ;). once these walls are down, hopefully trapping the hijacker within the small corridor, it's up for grabs what happens to him from here. does the pilot land at the nearest airport, letting the FBI handle it on the ground, or does the hijacker, realizing he's fscked shoot himself in the head, or would the pilot have a button that'd release sleeping-gas into that little, by now air-tight compartment? who knows.

while we're at it, why not have an air-tight cockpit and fill the entire cabin up with sleeping-gas in the event of a hijacking? knock everyone out but the armed gaurd (that should be on every single flight anyway, and would be the only one with a gas mask), have him restreign the hijackers, the pilot lands the plane at the nearest airport, and voila everyone survived.

there are many flaws with my ideas i'm sure, but fooey on you, i don't care :P

--xh3g
i'm xh3g on OPN, so come yell at me in person.

--
The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.

Practical Security | 48 comments (46 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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