Wires and straws

Bill Ritter's daily take on the news.

July 13, 2012 2:54:32 PM PDT
If you see something, say something.

It's a great slogan and a call to action.

And indeed last night, on a Delta flight from New York's JFK airport to Madrid, an experienced Air Marshal saw something - in the bathroom of the plane. A straw with a metal wire in it. Not connected to anything, mind you. Just a straw with a metal wire in it.

Then he saw a woman, who was apparently getting sick, go into the bathroom. Was the illness a rouse? That's what apparently maybe perhaps went through his mind.

In any event, he saw something(s) and said something.

And all those folks who thought they were heading to Madrid for (fill in the blank), instead made a u-turn somewhere east of Nantucket, back to the airport in Queens. Madrid. Queens. What's the difference, right?

I know, I know, if that wire in the drinking straw had been a bomb, then the guy made the right call.

After all, terrorists will stop at nothing to hurt us, right?

And just because we've never heard about the wire-in-the-drinking-straw bomb, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Or couldn't exist. I mean, whoever heard of a shoe bomb until Richard Reid?

I'm just sayin'.

The end result, however, was another terrorist scare, and another false alarm.

Anti-terrorism experts will tell you that's just one of the consequences of increased security, and polls show Americans say - or at least tell pollsters - that they don't mind being inconvenienced if it means improving security.

What I worry about? Are we numbing people by all this? Will peeps come to think - if they aren't thinking it already - that these terrorist-on-board-the-plane stories always turn out to be nothing.

We lead our 11 p.m. newscast with the Delta-to-Madrid story last night, and several minutes in we quickly started reeling it in, when they hadn't found a bomb, just a wire in a straw. By the end of the 'cast, the story was over. Except for all those people on the jumbo jet whose flight had been delayed by about 7 hours.

Of course, had that really been a straw bomb, it would have been delayed forever.

It's a fine line - for law enforcement, for the media, and for the public.

Would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Meanwhile, we'll be pursuing tonight's big stories for 11 - as well as Meteorologist Lee Goldberg's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Laura Behnke (in for Rob Powers) with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa and me, tonight at 11, right after 20/20.



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