Five days after the arrests of 10/8, air travel
is still in substantial disorder. Taking the hop to Dublin – virtually a
commuter route for tens of thousands – two days ago, the one-hour flight took
me ten, with two flight cancellations (to ease congestion), separate queues to
check-in and deposit baggage, and then an 80-minute wait just to get to the
X-ray machine – since all belts and shoes were being removed, and every
passenger was getting a full body search. Those who set off the metal detector
with body piercings used to get a wave of the detector wand – now they go
behind a screen.

Today this was relaxed a little, and only 50% of
passengers were being full-body-searched – which means that de facto profiling
has begun. It won’t all be brown young men who are taken aside for the full
feel up, but they’ll be a clear majority.

There are still no details which would let us know
whether the alleged plot was allegedly interrupted in the planning, the
pre-planning, or the coffee-shop-bullsh-t stage. One salient factor: none of
the accused had actually purchased a plane ticket of any description.

90-day detention without trial is back on the
agenda. Telephone tapping has been barely discussed, and I suspect this is the
event which has tipped opposition to its virtually unlimited use into the realm
of the quixotic. Remnant liberalism on these matters is going to seem as
archaic as defending a ban on Sunday trading.

Despite all the talk of liquid bombs, it is still
possible to buy duty free liquor and perfumes beyond the barrier. Next year
we’ll find there was a plot to smuggle the stuff in via these shops, and pass
them on to terrorists boarding the plane. And that will go too. And on it will
go.

Peter Faris wants to live in a world where Jews
have the word “Jew” stamped in their passports. I don’t and I suspect most
others don’t either. Still, religious labelling would help in identifying
persons of interest – such as Brian Young and Don Stewart-Whyte, now known as
Umar Islam and Abdul Waheed, two of the 24 suspects arrested on 10/8. Both
converted to Islam as adults, both have passports in their old names, and both
could pass for anything from tanned Anglo to Peruvian. So, yeah, it would be
really effective – though that’s hardly the point. Religious labelling is
beneath contempt, not even debatable. It’s simply the expression of
personal cowardice and xenophobia projected out onto the political world.

Peter Fray

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