Vail Valley Voices: Enough of the PC skies
Vail, CO, Colorado
Like many Americans, I’m very concerned about the security of our air transportation system.
One would think that after eight years of analysis, congressional oversight, blue ribbon panels and so much more, our airlines would be safe from terrorist attacks.
The simplicity of the 9/11 terrorist plan and the near-catastrophic events in the plane that flew from Amsterdam to Detroit recently are uncanny.
In 2001, terrorists hijacked four airplanes using box cutters to overwhelm the pilots and their crews. No handguns, grenades or even explosives, just box cutters that anybody can purchase at a hardware store.
On Christmas Day 2009, a terrorist smuggled explosives on an airplane in his underwear.
For the past few days, many people have offered ways to prevent the next whacko from donning a bomb and blowing up an airplane in tribute to some vengeful deity.
I’d like to propose a few additions to the current list of suggestions:
If a passenger intends to blow up a plane, it’s highly likely he’ll be in an agitated state of mind shortly before takeoff. By this, I mean he will likely be perspiring, edgy, doing quirky and strange things, looking paranoid or whatever. The TSA should train and encourage their agents to look for this type of behavior. It doesn’t take an FBI agent to spot people who are “acting weird.”
Additionally, TSA agents shouldn’t discount observations made by other passengers. I’d rather have agents investigating suggestions of odd behavior than measuring toothpaste tubes and dismantling wheelchairs.
If a passenger buys a ticket with cash, he should be segregated and receive extra screening by the agents. Crazy people who want to destroy airplanes generally don’t have American Express cards, or any credit cards for that matter.
If a passenger doesn’t check luggage and isn’t carrying any bags, he should be screened. A terrorist who intends to commit suicide doesn’t need a change of clothes.
Why is it so difficult to develop a comprehensive list of people who may pose a risk to travelers? If a passenger is a criminal, he should be arrested and not be able to fly. If he’s a former criminal, he should receive special attention.
If the National Security Agency, FBI, CIA, State Department, Defense Department or Interpol receives information that a person is potentially dangerous, the person should be carefully screened.
Maintaining an inter-agency list available to all airlines should be a lot easier than prosecuting two wars in the Middle East.
If a name is added to the list neously, that’s OK. We can apologize later. The people in charge always complain that it’s so difficult to do simple things. They say they must consider civil liberties and privacy.
Well, I’m concerned that 200 to 300 people could be murdered because of political correctness or not wanting to hurt a person’s feelings.
And finally, there’s the cost of greater security. This country is spending billions of dollars screening children, old people, tubes of medicine and shoes.
Incompetent and untrained agents have been tormenting business people since 9/11. We should stop wasting so much money on unnecessary screening and be more focused on likely terrorists. Then a new plan wouldn’t cost more, and we’d all be much safer.
It’s time to recruit a successful businessperson from private industry to organize the intelligence being gathered every day so we might be able to “connect the dots.” The political hacks and bureaucrats who run these organizations are ineffective and are putting us all in mortal danger.
Sal Bommarito is a novelist and frequent visitor to Vail over the past 20 years.