The Associated Press reports today about the seizure in Gloucester, England, of "a pair of stretched-out socks with traces of explosives in them." Found among the possessions of arrested terrorist suspect Sajid Badat last month, this discovery has prompted a U.S. government warning that Al-Qaeda might use personal items to disguise explosives with which to blow up an airplane.
Authorities believe these socks seized during the arrest of Sajid Badat were designed to be filled with explosives and then tethered and worn around a bomber's neck. (Transportation Security Administration photo obtained by ABCNEWS)
This prompts the following thought: Suppose the terrorists do perfect an explosive device that is invisible to any machine. Were that to happen, then the authorities would have no choice but to focus – as some of us have been calling for – on the passengers rather than on the weapons. Of course, to avoid laboriously searching each and every passenger, this means focusing on the more likely suspects and that in turn raises the dread prospect of "profiling." Should we not begin doing this sooner rather than later, and thereby preempt the problem? (December 5, 2003)