In the hysteria that continues to reverberate four months after the ill-fated flight of the “Underwear Bomber” from Amsterdam to Detroit last Christmas Eve, it has become clear that we cannot rely on our elected authorities to safeguard our fundamental rights to privacy while we travel. As we read in this brief piece from Trouw, probably our only remaining hope lies in the sheer bureaucratic incompetence of those same officials.
Back at the time, Schiphol management announced with great fanfare that they would install full-body scanners to screen all passengers with destinations in the US to ensure nothing like this embarrassing incident ever happened again. By now 73 of those things were supposed to be in place; in fact, only 23 are – and even some of those present are not in use. The problem apparently lies in obtaining security clearances for the workmen who are supposed to go perform the installation of the rest of the machines in those super-secure areas behind the passenger-screening stations.
At the same time, these machines – whether installed or not – remain hideously expensive. Interestingly, the Trouw article concludes with the sentence “It is not certain whether the powder [i.e. the explosive Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was concealing in his briefs] would have been detected by the scanners.” Rest assured, from one of the world’s leading security consultants: it would not have.