The jury is still out on the air cargo threat that has been the talk of the news outlets today. We still do not know if this is an aviation specific threat or test of the security system, or a mail bomb with a specific delivery address in mind. It could also be a scare tactic towards an indvidual or organization.
Regardless, it does bring into play the rationale behind an attack specifically on an all-cargo aircraft. How does destroying an a UPS or FedEx flight achieve the outcomes generally desired by terrorists?
It’s the economy.
The 9/11 attacks and the attempts at bombing the NYC and Washington DC subways are also part of the new threat we are facing, but the original 9/11 scenario did include bombings of all-cargo aircraft. But, with only a few aircraft potentially being bombed, how would those bombings have affected the billions of dollars of revenue that moves throughout the air every year?
It’s our response that achieves the true outcomes of the attack, not the attack itself.
Recall the after effects of 9/11. Economic recession, airline bailouts, the largest governmental bureaucracy created since World War II. We now spend billions of dollars a year on homeland security, and the attacks have forever changed the way in which we travel. Along with the fact that arguably, a few more of our Constitutional rights were given up, particularly the right to privacy, as a result.
The United States is heavily reliant on air travel. We live in a just-in-time delivery world. Although there has been a lot of talk about the air cargo security regulations, most of these regulations affect the cargo that is placed on commercial passenger air carrier aircraft, not the all-cargo operators. There are regulations for the all-cargo operator, but not every item placed on an all-cargo carrier goes through an x-ray machine.
Shortly after 9/11, the TSA discussed the screening of all items placed on air cargo flights and commercial air carrier flights. The resulting logistical issues would have shut down the air cargo industry entirely, or have made it so expensive that it would be all but impossible for average citizens to ship things and so expensive for corporations that just-in-time would be a thing of the past.
This is why we must implement good security solutions, not knee-jerk responses that make the public believe that we are doing something, but in reality only spend billions of dollars on unnecessary security measures and erode our civil rights.
The war of terrorism is fought on many fronts, but it is really a war on our economy and our way of life.