Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Sky Marshals

Yesterday, I commented in favor of the new security arrangements for visitors to the US arriving by sea or air.

I'm not sure about the sky marshals proposals, however. First of all, from what I gather, not all flights will have marshals, only a select few, presumbably those that are considered most at risk. But, will I as a passenger know when a marshal is on my flight? And, if yes, will I have the option to not go on a flight (with a full refund) which the authorities have reason to suspect may be a terrorist target? What if I'm on a flight that does not have sky marshals because no one recommended them, yet the flight is subject to an on-board attack? Will I (or my family if I die) have the right to sue the US government for failing to protect me?

If I'm not going to be told that a marshal is on my flight, by what right do they withhold such information from me?

I would actually prefer if all licensed gun-owners were given the option of carrying one of the stun guns that sky marshals are supposed to be carrying. I think you could pretty well rule out all hijackings if potential hijackers were worried that there might be 50 or so passengers "packing heat".

I also think that the average airline passenger has already shown (with UA93 and the Richard Reid flight) that they will not meekly accept being hijacked any more. In the past, hijackers simply wanted to go to Cuba or whatever. But, September 11 has changed that. If I were on a plane that was hijacked I would assume I was already dead and would have nothing to lose going after my attackers. If 100 or more passengers think the same way, there's little hope of the hijackers accomplishing much more than bringing down a plane.