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THE FLYING FOLLIES OF THE T.S.A.

Reader comment on item: Security Theater Now Playing at Your Airport

Submitted by DANIEL REDMOND (United States), Jan 29, 2010 at 19:59

I don't really fly anymore. I am old enough to remember the glory days of air travel, back in the 1960s and early 1970s; prior to "deregulation" and the advent of murderous airplane hijackings by Jihadist style terrorists from the Middle East. Back then the price structure of tickets was logical---the further you flew, the more you paid---the seats were comfortable and the food was decent. Most important of all, you didn't have to run a gauntlet of absurd and totally ineffective "security measures" conducted by inadequately trained and underpaid "security officers" at airports. Let's face it, we all know it's a joke

. The first time I flew after nearly 25 years of flightless travel I was submitted to "the random search." I was standing in a line at LaGuardia Airport in the spring of 2002 waiting to board a plane. In order to not "offend" anyone the selection process for those who will suffer "additional screening" is done by computer rather than by human perception or any semblance of logical analysis. Accordingly, those selected for more intensive scrutiny were as follows: myself (a middle-aged, conservatively dressed white male American civil engineer), a mousy looking little 30-something Asian women who had spent the past half an hour with her nose in a physics textbook, and an elderly man who looked like the "grandfather" from a Norman Rockwell painting. We three had to remove our belts and shoes and endure the whole standard 'intensified' search process while three young Arabic looking males wearing turbans waltzed on past us with hardly a glance of additional scrutiny, since their ticket numbers had not been randomly selected by the security computer.

Now let's stop for a second and ask a simple question that may serve as the proverbial 'elephant in the drawing room' that nobody wants to think about. Here's the question: 'Who, besides young male Arabs and Muslims, ever hijacks airplanes anymore?' Any rationally instigated security measures at airports would take into account the fact that the answer to that question is essentially "No one!" In other words, profiling is good police work and an appropriate method of interdicting terrorist efforts at airports. Who hijacks commercial airliners? Young male Arabs and Muslims. Who should we be screening most intensely at airports? Arabs and Muslims. I mean, this isn't rocket science. A six year old child could figure this out. But instead of doing what makes sense, we are spending our time shaking down Norman Rockwell grandpas and nerdy little Chinese girls pursuing academic studies. In other words, we've learned nothing from the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

A few years before the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks I remember seeing an interview on television with the former head of security for El Al Airlines. His name is Isaac Yeffet and in retirement he has created his own security consulting firm here in New York. He had done a survey of security measures at American airports that included having Middle Eastern employees making cash purchases of one-way flight tickets while using the names of some of the world's most infamous terrorists, such as Abu Nidal and Abu Abbass, Nobody at any of the airports questioned any of these guys regarding their flight plans. Nobody even recognized the names they had used, let alone show the slightest suspicion of what they were up to. Mr. Yeffet's conclusion was stark and shocking in its simplicity: "You have no security at American airports." Period. That was it. We had no effective means in place of deterring the events of Sept. 11th and it was only a matter of time before it happened.

To make matters worse, the Justice Dept. under Janet Reno had forbade stepping up the questioning of more than 3 Arab or Muslim passengers on any flight to a "secondary level" of scrutiny regardless of how suspicious they appeared. As I recall there were at least 4 hijackers on each of those Sept. 11th flights and last time I checked 4 was still a bigger number than 3. So like I said, I don't fly anymore. It's not worth the aggravation or the realistic risk in view of the totally absurd and irritating security measures currently in place at our airports. If I want to go some place, I drive my car. It may take longer but at least I don't have to take my shoes and belt off to do it and I know that my baggage won't blow up in mid-trip. - DANIEL REDMOND And nothing has really changed since then. While indulging in politically correct "random" searches of passengers we allow suspicious persons to board flights at will. Only 4% of our baggage sent to the cargo hold is examined at all. Translation: if a bag with a bomb in it is planted in the cargo area it has a 96% chance OF NOT BEING DETECTED.

No wonder I don't fly anymore. In the cold and brutal economic calculus of the airline industry, it would cost more to implement realistic and effective security measures than it does to lose a plane to terrorists every decade or so. Those who die, and the airplanes they die in, are simply expendable and "security theatre" is designed to make us feel that we are actually safe when we get into one of those sleek aluminum cylinders that flies through the air at 600 miles per hour.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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