I want a world where Frank junior and all the Frank juniors
can sit under a shady tree, breathe the air, swim in the ocean,
and go into a 7-11 without an interpreter
--The Naked Gun 2-1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991)
If we don't
(fill in the blank with your choice of suspended civil rights),
the terrorists have won
--The Right's best excuse for abdicating our rights
Can you fly this plane, and land it?
Ranger Question of the Day [RQOD]:
If the T.S.A. did not exist,
what would the real unemployment rate be?
[R.I.P. Leslie Nielson. You only thought you were doing parody.]
Contrary to the ipsedixitism of airport supervisor Philip Burdette -- “I get paid to be paranoid" -- The Transportation Security Administration's job is NOT paranoia. It IS to follow reasoned and responsible, proactive measures to address a real threat in a judicious manner (T.S.A. Finds Itself on the Defensive.)
Airport security is a tactical measure, reflective of a larger strategic posture. All significant terror successes, or near successes, have been a result of strategic U.S. blunders. The intelligence community in the outer perimeter of defense was found lacking.
The events of 9-11-01 did not occur because of tactical negligence at airport terminals. The 9-11 operatives did not violate any existing protocols and boarded their flights legally. Instead, the failure occurred at the strategic level.
The crotch and shoe bombers paraded as successful infiltrators did NOT originate on U.S. flights, and their success was the failure of intelligence and not physical security. The weakness of the screening system is NOT poor security, but faulty intelligence and strategic threat analysis.
Screening domestic fliers is closing the barn door after the horse is out; it does not address any real threat. Airport security does not stand alone -- it is simply the last, visible layer of defense. If a threat is stupid enough to smuggle anything at this final checkpoint, then it is realistic to say that action is intentional to keep the U.S. response at an artificially high level.
If a device of any sort is discovered at a boarding gate, then this is not a success of security but rather a failure of strategic intel gathering and analysis. The T.S.A. can X-ray and grope to the pace of frenzied sexual predators, but that will not increase our security. Layers of security must be neutralized before the terrorists could penetrate any airport security. To date, there are no credible reports that the al-Qaeda threat has the assets to expend on such high-risk operations.
Paranoia is not a strategy, but the failure of one. It is diffuse fear of something that should not be feared. By extension, the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) is a fallow exercise in paranoia. If we honestly believe that our airports are being targeted, it is apparent that George W. Bush's PWOT is a dud. Every time we frisk a U.S. citizen in an airport we are admitting that, although we are still fighting them over there, we are not sure they ain't over here.
If we have perimeters in our airports, then we are fighting them over here (or at least, pretending we are.)