Britain Arrests 24 Suspected Conspirators
By John Ward Anderson and Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, August 11, 2006; A01
LONDON, Aug. 10 – A plot to simultaneously blow up as many as 10 U.S.-bound passenger jets with liquid explosives hidden in carry-on luggage was foiled with the arrest of 24 suspects, British and U.S. officials said Thursday. Tough new security measures snarled air traffic through the day and filled departure lounges in Britain and the United States with crowds of frustrated travelers.
Once again, airline security is the topic of the day and we are doing yet another strange dance at the doorways of planes. First we relinquished our nail clippers and doffed our shoes. Now we make our offerings of shampoo and tequila to the circular file. The only cheer in the news (other than the thought that apparently a disaster was averted) came from the photos of smiling people handing off Frappuccinos and bottles of Scotch to strangers, rather than throwing their pricey liquids in the trash.
The miserly corner of my brain wonders if the TSA couldn’t somehow divert all those bins of shampoo and shaving cream to homeless shelters or some other place of need. I suppose the bounty from JFK alone would overwhelm any such effort. Maybe we could load them all on a cargo plane and send them to tsunami-stricken areas. Except that the whole point of this exercise was to keep the items off the planes…
On Saturday, I board a flight from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. with my two children. This does make the packing puzzle more interesting. My carry-on will be a lot lighter without the three bottles of water I’d normally lug. Don’t forget to take my one and only designer lipstick out of my purse and put it in a checked bag – it’s verboten, according to news reports. No contact-lens solution, no eye drops, no decongestant spray – my usual arsenal against the drying, virus-laden aircraft ether.
Nearly five years ago, I was at home with a toddler and an infant when someone called and told me to turn on the TV. The toddler ignored the unbelievable images on the screen while I clutched the baby to me. I think I held him for most of the day. I kept imagining a man looking at the faces around him, at children like my own, and continuing to crash a plane, to consign them to the flames.
The next time I turned on the TV, the Pentagon was burning. I phoned a friend who worked in DC. “No, no, it’s the World Trade Center,” she said patiently. “NO, I am looking at the Pentagon,” I said, and then we both fell silent.