The Case of the Killer Cosmetics

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners waved their magic wands last week and turned mascara, moisturizers, and most other make-up into lethal weapons. Toiletries also transmogrified into terrorist tools after an alleged plot to smuggle explosive liquids and gels aboard planes surfaced in London.

As Michael Chertoff, top tyrant at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), explained, "There is currently no indication of any plotting within the United States; nevertheless, as a precaution, the federal government is taking immediate steps to increase security measures…."

Note the balancing act Our Ruler attempts in his propaganda. Cops supposedly discovered (fomented?) the plot in a country 3500 miles distant; they caught the alleged terrorists before any harm was done; the British government claims to have monitored the conspirators long enough to rule out American accomplices. And so Chertoff assures us that we’re safe, unlikely to meet our Maker by boarding a plane. He has no reason to "increase security measures."

On the other hand, here’s a prime opportunity to flex the ole muscles and show the sheeple yet again who’s boss. How can Mike, that paragon of Mephistophelian mien and Stalinesque soul, resist? He doesn’t. And so, boys and girls, pack your gels and liquids in your checked baggage, shed your shoes, nor tote any water, coffee or tea beyond the checkpoints. Why? Because Big Daddy Government says so, that’s why.

The British bomb scare proves that though screeners have ransacked our belongings and groped us for four years now, terrorists could have waltzed onto planes at any time with explosive elixirs. The long lines, the molestation, the risk of contracting God-knows-what-germs from walking barefoot on filthy airport floors u2014 all are in vain. The security the TSA promises in exchange for our freedom can never be anything but an illusion.

And the TSA knows it. Indeed, the news from London must have seemed like dj vu because only 8 months ago, screeners failed to detect exactly the same scenario here. Twenty-one times.

Fortunately, it wasn’t terrorists but undercover investigators smuggling bomb components through the TSA’s checkpoints. The Feds frequently test their airport-security boondoggle (surprise: it just as frequently flunks); in one such test from October to December 2005, investigators tried to sneak components of an “improvised explosive device” through checkpoints at 21 airports. (Like the liquids in London, these ingredients could have been combined to catastrophic effect aboard a plane.) They succeeded every time. As NBC’s Nightly News wailed, “In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one stopped these materials.”

Naturally, the TSA rushed to defend itself. “While random items commonly found under a kitchen sink could conceivably be concocted into an IED," it sniffed, "there are so many things that could go wrong with this hypothetical scenario that we find it highly implausible.” Delicious, is it not? Dehydrated passengers stranded in four-hour security lines last week no doubt appreciated being robbed of their toiletries and tea for a "highly implausible hypothetical."

The fact that security gizmos can’t detect explosive liquids and gels has been known for over a decade. Terrorists financed by Osama bin Laden first experimented with them twelve years ago in the hopes of blowing up planes. Yet we’ve survived thousands of flights with mouthwash and medicines since. Suddenly, the TSA would have us believe that these potions, lying dormant in millions of carry-on bags, have turned deadly. Toothpaste that posed no threat Tuesday was Public Enemy No. 1 Thursday.

Nevertheless, after trying their hardest to ruin it for us, Our Rulers ask that we "Enjoy your trip." Chertoff mused, "It does seem a little odd maybe to hear somebody say enjoy your trip, but the whole point of this exercise is to continue to maintain the level of safety and security in air travel in this country that we have had since September 11th."

Not to mention the level of totalitarianism, too.