As a frequent flier who generally chooses the pat-down over the scanner (I find the scanner even more humiliating than a federally funded groping), I can say that on some occasions the manual search I experienced was so rote that I could have passed through security with a bag of grenades down my pants. And the devil’s workshop operating in Yemen under al-Asiri’s direction is the obsession of counterterrorist forces worldwide precisely because it is focused on designing a bomb that will defeat airport security.

Which suggests an obvious conclusion: The existence of this latest iteration of the underwear bomb is, as the security expert Bruce Schneier argues, an advertisement against increased airport security — not in favor of it…

The operation against AQAP’s newest bomb was a success precisely because it took place so close to the source of the plot. As Schneier points out, terrorism isn’t easy. Most plots fail, and fail early. If an underwear bomber reaches an airport, and is only a couple of hours away from boarding a plane he plans to destroy, it means that he and his co-conspirators have brought a complicated plan to maturity despite the best efforts of the most sophisticated counterterrorism campaign in history.

In other words, if the only thing standing between the bomber and his target is a TSA pat-down, bet on the bomber.