Thanks to conflicting statements and apparent lack of coordination from the White House, the nation is still unsure of whether or not the government will extend the current laptop ban from some international flights to all incoming flights. Or is the confusion intentional? Having your plans to work on a project or watch a movie upset by a last-minute policy change is inconvenient to a typical traveler. To a potential terrorist, such sudden shifts in policy could mean the difference between success and failure. Perhaps the mere threat of an expanded laptop ban is enough to discourage these types of plots.
What seemed to be a sure thing over the weekend soon turned into a he-said-she-said exchange between Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and his European counterparts over the past two days. Thanks to a press release published on Tuesday, we know the official administration stance:
Finally, while a much-discussed expansion of the ban on large electronic devices in the cabin on flights to the United States was not announced today, the Secretary made it clear that the an [sic] expansion is still on the table. Secretary Kelly affirmed he will implement any and all measures necessary to secure commercial aircraft flying to the United States – including prohibiting large electronic devices from the passenger cabin – if the intelligence and threat level warrant it.
This open-ended policy is true Trump. Without ruling out any possibilities, the president is keeping would-be terrorists on their toes. However, even the vague language within the statement is enough to draw one conclusion: the inclusion of the phrase “to the United States” indicates that domestic flights and international departures should remain unrestricted when it comes to large electronics in your carry-on.
Dig deeper, and the statement aligns perfectly with an “America First” agenda. As previously reported on Liberty Nation, when the laptop ban was initially rolled out to a small number of countries, the actual motivation was most likely to hit back against heavily-subsidized foreign airlines. With a somewhat frosty visit to Europe in the rear-view mirror, the president may be looking to draw a few more cards into his hand in case he needs to return to the bargaining table in the future. The decision to pull out of the Paris Agreement will likely draw the ire and possibly even modest reprisals from European nations. Being able to slap a laptop ban on incoming flights from those countries, under the guise of compensating for their lax security, is a one-two punch to answer right back.
The politicization of airline security is unfortunate, but this is the world we live in. The fact of the matter is that the threats facing our airways are always shifting, and the vast majority of precautions we take are the cumulative result of dozens of efforts to prevent one possible plot or another. According to Secretary Kelly, “That’s the thing that they are obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it’s a U.S. carrier, particularly if it’s full of U.S. people.” If the DHS bans laptops from carry-on luggage, those who wish to do us harm will just find another way. If President Trump can score a diplomatic or economic victory while closing that door, all the better.