Fearsome Flying

“Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said yesterday that he believes security crackdowns over the Christmas holidays, including the cancellation of some passenger flights into the United States, averted a terrorist attack. But intelligence on the threat was so wispy that U.S. officials may never know for sure, he said.”

By John Mintz, Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, February 5, 2004; Page A10

It’s not for me to judge the real level of risk, but here’s a thought: al Qaeda doesn’t actually have to get terrorists onto planes now, they only have to make the US government think they will. The flight cancellations and delays cost millions to the airlines and individuals affected, and scrambling US Air Force jets to escort planes is surely also expensive. Maybe all these precautions prevent real threats from being carried out; no one wants to take the chance, of course. But maybe al Qaeda is just toying with us and enjoying the ensuing mess.

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