January 3, 2005

Can I Still Mock the "Lasers"?

Ok, so a story came out that DHS's latest superthreat was terrorist "lasers" that would be used to blind pilots and crash airliners. This warning was mocked by me. Then a series of rather scary headlines appear. I begin to feel rather bad over mocking our hardworking denizens of national security. But just when I'm about to embrace the fear-mongering, this timely article arrives from Salon's resident Pilot/Columnist:

Hitting two pilots squarely in the face through the refractive, wraparound windshield of a cockpit would be extremely difficult and entail a substantial amount of luck, and a temporarily or partially blinded crew would still have the means to stabilize a climbing or descending airplane. Surviving even a worst-case attack would be challenging, but not impossible.

To accept the proposition that terrorists are behind these events is to assume that gangs of al-Qaida operatives are hunkered down in neighborhoods throughout America, openly risking capture in their attempts to test out obvious, traceable devices that even when used accurately are exceptionally unlikely to bring forth an accident. I submit that terrorists do not undertake operations with such high probabilities of exposure and failure. They have little to gain and everything to lose. With respect to bang for the buck, why waste time with lasers when you could hide in a patch of trees with an assault rifle and inflict greater damage?

I shall now resume mocking the terrorist "lasers."

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