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May 19, 2017

Trump brains trust might be rethinking laptop ban on US-bound flights

Reports suggest Trump's anti-terrorism stance on passenger personal devices to US-bound flights may change.

Subtlety may not rate highly in the Trump White House, but it seems it is trying to back away from triggering global bans on passengers’ personal laptops and tablet devices in US-bound airliner cabins.

For example, yesterday AusBT highlighted this encouraging story by the BBC. It coincidentally dropped any official reference to apparent lying by President Donald Trump about specific ISIS threats using miniature passenger electronic devices carrying small quantities of explosives.

That desirable analysis has been contradicted by more recent US reports from Washington DC, including from the, generally speaking, somewhat less accurate CNBC website.

Who are we to believe? The consistent clues in both reports — that a global ban might be averted by an outbreak of common sense in the Trump administration — start with a studied lack of urgency, overtaken the earlier emphasis on strong intelligence concerning an attack using devices on selected Middle East carrier flights. It’s somehow avoided acknowledging the existence of connections that would bypass such bans, occurring at many dozens of airport/airline combinations between the states, said to be the source of the now non-existent threat and the US.

The “genius” at play in the Trump initiative? It risked the lives of entire jet loads of passengers, should one of those devices spontaneously explode in a checked luggage area, instead of in a cabin where trained flight attendants have a proven ability to quench such occurrences without delay.

The next clue comes from the narrative the US and EU officials are exploring (in a form of words, if nothing else) alternative “enhancements” to their current commonly aligned, yet sometimes differently applied, anti-terrorism measures.

This has to be encouraging, provided those enhancements have nothing in common with routine improvements (like those that poorly prepared IT departments inflict on Australians who rely on internet banking or publishing systems in daily life).

In fact there is “no reference” to Australian flights to the US being affected in any of the US reports of recent weeks.

The lucky country may just fly under the radar of politically driven hysterics once more. But we cannot be so lucky forever.

*This article was originally published at Crikey blog Plane Talking

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