Saturday, December 26, 2009

This is security?

According to the news sources today, a passenger tried to destroy an airplane as it was landing in Detroit. The incident points out how misguided the Bush-Obama "war on terrorism" has become. We are spending maybe a billion dollars a day working with corrupt warlords in Afghanistan and warring sects in Iraq, in order to neutralize maybe a hundred or so al-Qaeda members in those countries. Meanwhile, a man who was known to government security agencies was able to board a plane of one of our major airlines -- Northwestern -- with incendiary chemicals taped to his legs. How is this responsible airport security? If lists of terrorist suspects are not used to detain and inspect them when they enter an airport, then why are these lists kept?

As usual, it is much more swashbuckling to invade and bomb other countries rather than use intelligence and imagination to defend our own borders. We still don't inspect more than a tiny tiny fraction of the container ships entering our ports. My mother who is in her nineties must remove her shoes for inspection if she flies, but computerized databases of potential terrorists are apparently not used to single out people for more careful searches.

Whatever one's opinion of Israeli politics, it is inconceivable that this could happen on El-Al.

It is clear that al-Qaeda can set up "training camps" probably at dozens of sites throughout the world, and we can't bomb them all. Did the existence of such sites prevent a disfunctional and divided national security apparatus from detaining known terrorist suspects when they boarded planes at Logan airport on 9/11? Maybe the terrorists learned how to use specialized tools like box-cutters at their camps in Afghanistan, but they learned how to fly planes -- into buildings -- right here in the U.S.A.

Security begins at home. End the military adventure and bring the troops home.

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