Thanks for the good discussion on Afghanistan. As much as I hate war, I still don’t see the alternative to this nation being over there. Any attempt to just go after the terrorists would lead us right back to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
But now on to something else. I honestly don’t know who to believe in the tiff between Rep. Jason Chaffetz and airport security in Salt Lake. Members of Congress can be a little overbearing and ego-maniacal at times, but TSA people can be unreasonable, too.
My biggest concern is whether airport searches, as currently conducted, are effective. Set aside concerns about whole-body imaging (you’d have to be pretty sick to get any pleasure from those images, wouldn’t you?), could the TSA really stop a determined terrorist?
Here’s a story about how the TSA will now begin testing powders at certain airports. Pay attention to the comments from Hans Weber, president of TECOP International Inc., a San Diego-based aviation consulting firm.
He said we’ll never be safe as long as we look for bad things and not bad people. Terrorists will always be one step ahead. The only defense is to engage in (gulp!) profiling. This, as the story says, would be, “combining intelligence and study of behavioral patterns to identify people who pose the greatest threat.”
My biggest problem with profiling is that it never would have caught someone like Timothy McVeigh (all right, I know he didn’t take an airplane, but stay with me here). Terrorism isn’t confined to a race or a nationality. Lots of angry groups with a cause use it as a tactic.
However, certain strange behavior probably says a lot more than what might be in a person’s bag.
Here’s a story about a student who was handcuffed and detained after the TSA found Arabic language flashcards in his bag, including the words “terrorist” and “explosion.” The kid says he was just studying Arabic. The TSA says he was also acting suspiciously. He was released and put on a different flight.
I guess I’m not so bothered by the TSA’s response in this instance. Guarding the airways is not an easy job. But then, why don’t we guard trains and inspect other modes of transportation and shipping better?
I’m interested in hearing what you think.