The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced that bomb detection machinery has been installed in every airport in the country and that individual security checks will be scaled back over the next months. This was the culmination of extraordinary teamwork between Washington D.C. politicians and bureaucrats and some of America’s leading corporations and research institutes.
Recognizing the need for immediate action, a special envoy from the President’s office began working on this project within a week after the events on September 11th, 2001. This envoy’s work was assumed by the TSA and was coordinated with the FBI through the Office of Homeland Security.
According to a spokesperson, “American travelers should be able to travel with their minds at ease, knowing that the world’s best technology has been installed at our airports.”
These explosive detection systems have been manufactured by almost a dozen different corporations and use several different detection systems. Every day on the job has resulted in changes and improvements to these systems.
Scientists and engineers working on this project have been elated at having the opportunity to use equipment under true operational conditions. One scientist said, “Working this way has cut almost a year, maybe more, from the normal development timetables.”
The TSA spokesperson noted, “Our goal is to make the security apparatus at America’s airports as transparent as possible. The most important portions of security take place out of sight and without the awareness of passengers.”
Today, all baggage and air freight can be scanned for explosives and radioactive materials. Checked baggage, mail and cargo will be screened at high speeds before being loaded on planes.
Carry-on baggage will also be screened by a combination of explosives detection modules that have been installed on almost every x-ray machine current in service. Operators have been secretly trained to operate these more complex scanners. In addition the more familiar and visible explosives detection machinery will remain in place as an extra check.
The TSA spokesperson also indicated that his agency is planning to do away with the in-depth searches at the boarding gates except in extreme circumstances.
Indeed, several passengers seemed surprised at the new security measures. They mentioned that moving through airport security seemed even easier now than before 9/11.
With the increased presence of air marshals, barricaded doors to airplane cockpits, pilot instructions to immediately land planes when faced with hijackers, facial recognition systems, and heightened awareness of both cabin crews and passengers, the TSA indicated that the takeover of an aircraft in U.S. airspace is highly unlikely.
New INS initiatives and stricter controls and monitors on the movement of funds between countries have also limited the number of potential terrorist actions and their ability to fund their operations.
The FBI, CIA and foreign intelligence organizations are in agreement that the probability of airline hijackings in the current atmosphere of heightened airport and airline security is remote.
With U.S. air travel now, perhaps, the most secure mode of transportation in the world, authorities are now focused on other possible terrorist targets and new activities.
Author’s note: This fable describes what the world of airline travel may be. I have no idea of how close to this story we may be in reality. However, I dare say we are far closer than pundits and critics deem. This is the way it should be with travelers more confident of flying and terrorists more uncertain than even about whether their actions have been uncovered.