By Guy Rundle in London


Well,
always with the proviso of the presumption of innocence, they missed us
again. With twenty-four people in custody, stories of a plot to blow up
ten Transatlantic planes, and the chilling rumour that explosives were
in liquid form and capable of being concealed in shampoo bottles or the
like, London’s myriad counter-terrorism groups were once again in
overdrive.

The city was calm but Heathrow was another story. I
went out there to have a look, expecting mild chaos, and found the
closest I have ever seen to a total breakdown of order in a western
city outside of the glorious anti-capitalist carnavales of the late
90s. Two thirds of flights were cancelled, queues snaked around each
other and out the door dissolving into formless gridlocks of people,
all carry-on baggage was disallowed – it had to be checked in – with
thousands of people stuffing their passports, prescriptions, etc into
regulation clear plastic bags.

Infant formula was allowed –
later it wasn’t on the grounds that it could be liquid explosive –
later still, it was again. People were fainting, fights were breaking
out. I left about 4pm. By 6pm it’s said there were more than 40 St
John’s ambulances in attendance. It was a cool day in the high teens –
if it had been a 30+ scorcher, I suspect a full-bore riot would have
been on the cards.

With
the Forest Gate raid in recent memory, and the trial of the Sydney 13
telling us that the principal NSW counter-terrorism source is
Wikipedia, I’ll retain a critical open mind about this latest dastardly
plot – without however wandering over to grassy knoll territory.

However,
whether or not it turns out to be well-founded, I suspect air travel
has just become one whole degree more impossible. Does the possibility
of undetectable liquid explosive mean a hand search of every piece of
luggage, no carry-on, no laptops, removal and inspection of all shoes?

Before
that happens I presume they’ll just say bugger it and openly adopt
racial profiling, giving every Muslim, or brown, traveller the thrice
over. Nor will train travel – remember Madrid – be exempt either.
Blowing up the Eurostar mid-tunnel would be a prime score.

Welcome to the future.


PICTURE: Courtesy of Flickr