Holmes Report Blog

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Flight Risks, Part III: Okay, this is really really the last word on this subject (for now) since it’s obviously off-topic as far as this blog is concerned, but…

Surely the most telling evidence that I’m right, that the security measures imposed at the end of last week were an over-reaction, is that those measures are no longer in place. If I was flying from London to New York today, I would in fact be allowed to board the plane carrying both a laptop computer and a paperback book.

So what has changed over the last couple of days? Has anything happened to make laptops and paperbacks less threatening than they were on Saturday? No. The physical properties of both are unchanged. Has anything happened to make those who wish us harm to suddenly embrace the western lifestyle and renounce their previous hostility? Again, no.

In other words, if paperbacks and laptops really were a threat on Saturday, they are still a threat today. Ergo, either the policies of last week were an over-reaction or the policies of this week are negligent. I suppose there’s room for disagreement on which of those two possibilities is most likely, and I suppose it’s obvious where I stand.

(Of course, the same logic applied last week: if laptops and paperbacks were dangerous at Heathrow, they were surely dangerous in Brussels, where I was able to board a plane with both. Surely a terrorist of even moderate intelligence could have done what I did: taken a train to Brussels and boarded a flight there with his potentially lethal John Grisham tome in hand?)


  • At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    sounds like some rather transparent back-tracking going on. Your later posts offer credible sources, complimentary viewpoints etc - all the hallmarking of a worthwhile read (congrats). This wasn't what we got from the original post. I hope this doesn't turn into a 'ratner moment' for you......

    Never mind, with your 'pads' in Time Square & Oxford Street do you care :-)

  • At 12:35 PM, Blogger Paul A. Holmes said…

    My inital post was more in the nature of a rant about the difficulty of air travel and an apology for light blogging. To be honest, I didn't source any of the reasons for the simple reason that it never occurred to me that it would be in the last bit controversial.

    Still not sure how it became so, but I assume your Rather reference is appropriate -- that this reached some right-wing website or mailing list where people have a vested interest in attacking anyone who refuses to be sufficiently terrified.

    Still, all the consideration I've given to the matter in the wake of the criticism -- and the articles I liked to -- makes me more convinced than ever that I was right in my initial visceral reaction: the travel restrictions were absurd, unnecessary and authoritarian.

  • At 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Top tip for those travelling from Heathrow is to take the Paddington Express which takes you beyond the carnival of the marquees and tents that greet arrivals by bus or taxi and into the building itself. Yesterday this cut out 30 minutes of lining up. I guess the same is true of the Tube.

  • At 1:58 PM, Blogger Paul A. Holmes said…

    I wrote my response above under the assumption that by "backtracking" the author meant using "track backs" to reinforce my case. The next line or two provided that context.

    But someone in my office thinks he or she might have meant "backtracking" in the sense of going back on some of the things in my immediate post.

    I can't imagine how anyone could read that into my latter posts, but just to ensure that the clarity is crystalline, there is not a single letter in my original post that I would retract, amend of apologize for.

  • At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Had yourself a Mel Gibson moment, Paul? At least Mel was drunk and immediately admitted he was wrong. You just bloviate all week, attempting to rationalize your stupid, incredibly insensitive comments. Big PR expert. You're a hypocrite.


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