Monday, November 22, 2010

Napolitano's Reign of Terror

Airline passengers in the U. S. continue to be victimized by the ever more absurd Transportation Security Administration, whose politically correct absurdity is nicely delineated (once again) by
Anne Coulter:

After the 9/11 attacks, when 19 Muslim terrorists -- 15 from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates and one each from Egypt and Lebanon, 14 with "al" in their names -- took over commercial aircraft with box-cutters, the government banned sharp objects from planes.

Airport security began confiscating little old ladies' knitting needles and breaking the mouse-sized nail files off of passengers' nail clippers. Surprisingly, no decrease in the number of hijacking attempts by little old ladies and manicurists was noted.

TSA simply cannot bring itself to single out anyone--that would be racial profiling--and insists on doing random searches putting the little old lady with a walker under the same level of scrutiny as an arab male dressed in a burkha who happens to be ticking.

So what does TSA do when another threat comes along--from the same type of passenger that has been responsible for all the other attempts?

Two weeks ago, Napolitano ordered TSA agents to start groping women's breasts and all passengers' genitalia -- children, nuns and rape victims, everyone except government officials and members of Congress. (Which is weird because Dennis Kucinich would like it.)

"Please have your genitalia out and ready to be fondled when you approach the security checkpoint."

This is the punishment for refusing the nude body scan for passengers who don't want to appear nude on live video or are worried about the skin cancer risk of the machines -- risks acknowledged by the very Johns Hopkins study touted by the government.

While American airline passengers wait in long lines and are now going to be subject to TSA's ridiculous full body scans, at Israel's Ben Gurion airport, where they've been dealing with terrorism for years and actually think it's more important than political correctness, about all they do is profiling. They identify those kinds of passengers who are low security threats and they go through a lower level of security check.

They won't do that here not for security reasons, but for purely ideological reasons. Everyone is inconvenienced so that certain small groups of airline passengers might not be offended.

Republicans, here's the issue of your dreams.

13 comments:

Thomas said...

Racial profiling won't help. The US actually faces far greater threats from domestic terrorism than from foreign "Islamist" terrorism. Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, Andrew Stack (who flew a plane into an IRS building), Bruce Ivans (who the FBI claims was behind the bio-terror attacks after 9/11), Eric Rudolph (the Olympic bomber) were all white. Domestic terrorist groups, such as far-right Christian or militia groups and far-left environmental pose a greater threat than Islamic terrorism does.

And the Israelis can't exactly use racial profiling in their airports anyway, since Israelis aren't racially distinct from the Palestinians. They have to rely very heavily on intelligence to identify threats and psychological profiling to identify specific behavior. The US could and should follow this model, targeting those with ties to Muslim terrorism, radical anti-abortion groups, Christian Identity groups, and so on. It's worth keeping in mind that adjusting for scale, Israeli security is vastly more expensive than our security.

But really the big problem is that Americans, for all the Tea Party rhetoric, are largely willing to sacrifice their dignity in order to be marginally safer when they fly. Although some people are standing up for themselves, the problem isn't just government overreaching (though that certainly is a problem), it's the cowardice of the American public.

I hope the Republicans make this an issue. If the government forcing parents to be complicit in producing nude images of their children or allowing them to be molested by government agents doesn't provoke the Republicans to stand up for freedom, nothing will.

One Brow said...

I just don't see the Republicans pressing, nor compaigning, for a lessening of airport security.

Thomas, excellent points otherwise.

Andrew said...

The issue of their dreams is inner city schools. They have no dreams, so they miss the issues.

Singring said...

I find myself agreeing with Thomas on all counts.

Stereotyping on grounds of behaviour and intelligence is not only more useful than profiling on supposed racial traits, it also makes it harder for terrorists to blend in. It is likely that the first thing any foreign terrorist will do if extensive racial or religious profiling is brought in will be to attempt to conform to the profile that is not being targeted, making it easier for them to evade detection, not harder.

Personally, as someone who does fly internationally several times a year, I find airport security to be extremely excessive, ineffective and fuelled mainly by baseless fearmongering. Even before the tragic attacks of 9/11, flying was much safer than getting in your car even for a short drive.

Thomas said...

I think this is an area where people across party lines can agree. The racial profiling thing aside, I agree whole-heartedly with the main point of the post that the security is really just "security theater" motivated by politics and not actual safety. And I am no civil libertarian. Conventional conservatives used to have a strong stance against government surveillance. Liberals have a strong belief in privacy. If Singring and I can agree (while being opposed on most other things), then surely there's enough support to have some reform of the security system.

Lee said...

> Domestic terrorist groups, such as far-right Christian or militia groups and far-left environmental pose a greater threat than Islamic terrorism does.

Sorry, Thomas, that's just delusional.

Thomas said...

lee,

Al-Quada got lucky on 9/11. The only reason the casualties were so high were engineering defects in the trade towers. And with passengers now willing to fight back and the reinforcement of cockpit doors, it's extremely unlikely that any more planes will be flying into buildings.

Your view of domestic terrorism is historically naive. There have been 250 incidents of domestic terrorism between 1980 and 2000. Timothy McVeigh had connections to far right militia groups. There have been dozens of incidents of anti-abortion bombings, including shootings, bombings, and kidnappings. (Remember, the person who carried out the Olympic bombings was an abortion clinic bomber.) Environmental and animal rights terrorism is also fairly common. There are quite a few terrorist groups that currently operate inside the US, from far right groups (like the Army of God, Christian Identity groups like the Aryan Nation, etc.) to the far left (eco-terrorist groups like the Earth Liberation Front).

The best defense to terrorists is simply to keep them out of the country. These groups are already operating in the country. Fortunately, the Department of Homeland Security is aware of the nature of the threat of domestic terrorism and considers it to be a top priority. Not recognizing this is delusional.

Lee said...

You're counting terrorist incidents.

I'm counting bodies.

Islamic terrorist organizations have money, a world-wide network, and one of these days will get their hands on nukes.

Singring said...

'You're counting terrorist incidents.

I'm counting bodies.

And that's your problem right there.

Statistically speaking, 9/11 was a complete outlier. As Thomas said, they got lucky (not in small part to the complete lack of attentiveness of the government and intelligence agencies at the time). Since 9/11, the death toll for international terrorism has been zero.

As a US resident, you are much more likely to be the vitim of an act of domestic terrorism than an act of international terrorism.

Lee said...

> the death toll for international terrorism has been zero.

To get zero, you have to not count certain incidents such as the U.S. Army major who killed a dozen or so and wounded another. Even though he was a Muslim and getting counsel from a known proponent of international terrorism.

> As a US resident, you are much more likely to be the vitim of an act of domestic terrorism than an act of international terrorism.

We've got international terrorist groups trying to find weapons of mass destruction to use on America. But you go ahead and keep sweating the penny ante stuff.

Singring said...

'To get zero, you have to not count certain incidents such as the U.S. Army major who killed a dozen or so and wounded another. Even though he was a Muslim and getting counsel from a known proponent of international terrorism. '

He was a US citizen, hence domestic terrorist. Or are you now going to tell me that Muslisms by definition are not US citizens?

And guess who 'councelled' those 9/11 terrorist on how to fly a plane? A flght school in the US.

'We've got international terrorist groups trying to find weapons of mass destruction to use on America.'

Absolutely. But so far not a single US citizen on US soil has died of a weapon of mass destruction. So why are you so petrified of it, but are perfectly happy to get into a car each day to drive places when the chances of you dying doing so are vastly greater than dying by a dirty bomb?

Why live in fear of these incredibly improbable scenarios that current legislation has fully equipped law enforcement (and some would say overequipped) to deal with? Why ignore the danger of a drunk idiot plowing into your car while you're sitting at a traffic lights that legislation has equipped law enforcement poorly to deal with?

Lee said...

I don't think the "suitcase from Allah" scenario is as far-fetched as you imagine. One of these days, Islamic terror groups will be able to get their hands on nukes. When that happens, they will use them. All they need now is some rogue state with nukes who needs their money so much that they risk our ire. Who will it be? Iran? N Korea? Pakistan under some future radical Islamic regime? Some ex-Soviet state?

Even the most hate-addled domestic terror groups might hesitate to throw a nuke down in their own country -- they have to live here, after all -- but by and large Islamic terror groups won't have even those qualms.

Singring said...

'All they need now is some rogue state with nukes who needs their money so much that they risk our ire. Who will it be? Iran? N Korea? Pakistan under some future radical Islamic regime? Some ex-Soviet state?'

Sure. But the chances of any of those things happening are close to zero. They can't even smuggle a printer cartridge with a bomb into the US, let alone a nuke! Get real!