Flying Under Security Level Red

Arriving for a flight out of Boston's Logan Airport at 4:30 a.m., Doc Searls caught the leading edge of the London terror story:

Something bad happened (they won't tell us), and now the TSA won't let you carry any liquids, gels, pastes or fluids of any kind (pens?) through security checkpoints. Gotta check your medicines, sunblock, water bottels, whatever. This directive went down this morning (it's 4:30am here at Logan in Boston) and has caused a huge backup at the ticket counters and the security checkpoints. ...

Source: "This is the real deal."

What are they not saying? Gives me the creeps.

Terror alert bananaThe Department of Homeland Security declared the highest possible threat level on "flights originating in the United Kingdom bound for the United States," which is the first time the terror alert swatch has gone red.

I thought they were saving red for another horrific day like 9/11, when there's such a heightened state of emergency that planes are grounded, government officials head for safety, people scramble to account for loved ones and TV goes 24/7 terror.

Comments

"I thought they were saving red for another horrific day like 9/11, when there's such a heightened state of emergency that planes are grounded, government officials head for safety, people scramble to account for loved ones and TV goes 24/7 terror."

From the actual graphic:
Red -SEVERE
Severe risk of terrorist attacks

It does not, in any fashion, mean "they already hit us and killed a lot of people."

Some of the measures they can (but not especially will) put in place for condition red:

* Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs;
* Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning and mobilizing specially trained teams or resources;
* Monitoring, redirecting, or constraining transportation systems; and
* Closing public and government facilities.

Sounds like you just misinterpreted something that's been on the TV a few times a day for the last four or five years...

It does not, in any fashion, mean "they already hit us and killed a lot of people."

Why not? The maximum level of anxiety, panic and yearning for strong paternal Republican leadership should be saved for stuff on par with 9/11.

Today's threat was serious but not exactly life-altering. It didn't even ground planes for a day.

If we use red on things like this, we'll just be needing a means to express an even higher level of concern, the same way that Spinal Tap created a volume knob that goes to 11.

The Executive Office has shown yet again its tone-deaf megalomania. It definitely should hold the red-alert card, rather than squandering the political capital. This is a move of desperation.

"It does not, in any fashion, mean "they already hit us and killed a lot of people."

"Why not?"

Because you don't "alert" someone to something after it already happened, and it says what the codes are for quite clearly in all of the official descriptions. The only reason to go to a red code after one attack is in concern for followup attacks.

"Today's threat was serious but not exactly life-altering. It didn't even ground planes for a day."

...and they didn't need to, since the plans were in place and the alert system was cranked up to the correct level.

One more time: "red" doesn't mean "we're already screwed," it means "put all measures in place to try and stop us from being too screwed." And an impending attack that could kill more people than 9/11 is certainly in the "red" category.

If we use red on things like this, we'll just be needing a means to express an even higher level of concern

Why? The scale isn't a "set a record" one, it's a general guideline for setting alert levels, and is being used correctly according to those publicly posted guidelines.

Of course, if one or two guys had managed to get through, killing a few hundred people, you'd be screaming about "why didn't they use the red code like they were supposed to?"

Of course, if one or two guys had managed to get through, killing a few hundred people, you'd be screaming about "why didn't they use the red code like they were supposed to?"

If I was going to make a point about the terror alert system post disaster, it's more likely to be this: "See -- the color swatch of readiness did nothing to prevent this!" Or possibly: "This wouldn't have happened on President Gore's watch!"

I don't think the simplistic color alert system accomplishes anything. Fox News uses it on the news crawl; does it really register on anybody?

Rogers doesn't scream when he gets excited, he makes a Nutty Professor noise.

If we use red on things like this, we'll just be needing a means to express an even higher level of concern, the same way that Spinal Tap created a volume knob that goes to 11.

Or, as more than one grizzled UNT journo prof said:

"If you use 108-point type for this headline, what will you use for the Second Coming?"

I had actually forgotten about the Color Wheel of Worry until yesterday. And I watch Fox News 24/7, man.

Any "heightened state of emergency" is largely if not entirely due to the fact that the Repubs are worried about the November elections. Its going to be a long three months...

I found this discussion of the chemistry involved pretty interesting. As I only have 20-years-out-of-date freshman chemistry at my disposal, how does that read to anyone else?

Some countries have been dealing with terrorism for many years. I was camping on the beach at Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol (probably illegally, but no one accosted me). I ate lunch everyday (Spanish hours, of course) at a cafeteria-style restaurant to save money. I'd noticed that the upper storey of the building, a hotel, was blackened, from a fire, I assumed.

One day I asked a server what had happened, and he said that the ETA (part of the Basque National Liberation Movement), had firebombed the place. "When?", I asked. "Last week", he said. "Oh", I said.

I told my German buddy, a hustler, about it, and he asked me if I would still eat there. "Sure", I said, "It's probably the least likely place in town to be bombed now."

I still think that dancing banana would be better if it was a red hot chili pepper.

There is a red hot chili pepper type dancing banana. I can send the link if interested.

I agree that red alerts should be reserved for that which is imminent and not for something that has already taken place.

We now know that the Bush administration pressured the British to arrest the London terrorist suspects a week before British surveillance work was complete, in a cynical ploy to get the Lamont victory in Connecticut and discontent over the Iraq War off the news.

An attack was not imminent--the suspects had not purchased airline tickets and some didn't even have passports.

Bush the "fearless terrorist killer" has compromised the chances of the suspects being convicted in British courts, in hopes of gaining a political advantage with the launch of another Karl Rove PR offensive to attack the Democrats as weak on terrorism.

Impeach!

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