Saturday, November 27, 2010

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This is How You Stop Terrorists

Michael Totten » This is How You Stop Terrorists

The "TSA has never stopped an attack" line is repeated ad nauseum. It is not true, it is a lie. It is an example of how efforts to dominate the marketplace of ideas can be used to set the terms for a policy debate.

TSA has discovered thousands of weapons, including explosives. TSA agents have filled out thousands of Incident Reports based upon contacts with persons who based on professional criteria need to be identified and tracked. Cases are then developed and threats are identified or links are pursued by other parts of the government than the uniformed TSA officers at the airport. The people you see who do the screening are part of a larger system.

The vast majority of the hostility directed at the TSA boils down to special pleading, "I don't look like a terrorist so why bother me or my family?" When someone asks if they look like a terrorist the honest answer is "Yes." Forty years ago the Palestinians began the age of air terror by arranging for tall dark handsome young men to seduce girls on vacation in Cyprus or Lebanon and then give them a touching simple and to embarrassing to refuse keepsake to take home, a boombox. Young girls, old women, black, blonde or yellow, anyone could be either a terrorist or an unwitting mule.

Persons who insist that they do not believe that security measures mean anything other than that the government is throwing away money in a fit of welfare fakery by incompetents and sheer waste also can be heard claiming that the TSA is really part of some vast fiendish sophisticated government plot to harness the entire power of the United States to find out what is in someone's underwear. The advancement of these two incompatible theories should be enough to discredit their supporters as disconnected from reality.

People who deliberately seek to measure their own power by disrupting TSA may introduce noise in the system. That will necessitate a more intrusive screening experience for most and may create an exploitable weakness for the genuine terrorist. What do the TSA agents actually want? They want you to allow them to concentrate on the most likely threats. Those yelling "Profile" and testing to see how far they can go in cursing, squealing, displaying poor hygiene, or insisting on bringing on the plane their collection of old clocks and batteries, just because it makes them feel more empowered to do so are imposing their costs on others. They are practicing a particularly obnoxious form of socialism. Pack your bags and bring the bare minimum on as carry-on. Arrive awake and sober and with enough time to complete screening before your flight boards. Use the Screeners name and ask them to tell you when and where they are going to touch you. Tell them if you cannot see your property.

Since 9-11 cases of passengers with explosives, the shoe or underwear bombers for example, have been persons who boarded outside the United States and then flew into the country. The TSA can warn of a place that does not meet minimum standards, like Port of Prince Haiti, but it cannot control who gets on a plane in Europe.

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