Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
SO THIS TERRORIST WALKS INTO A LOUISIANA BAR
I was in the New Orleans airport this week waiting as a family member made her way through airport security with two small babies. Boy, were these guys with the Transportation Security Agency on the job and up to the task of stopping any terrorist threats. They all but strip searched her, opening every baby bottle and jars of baby food. Nothing gets by these guys. Well, except for Arabs loaded down with explosives.
No profiling allowed even though terrorist after terrorist fits a similar description. We can’t do that for it would be politically incorrect. Why is it that we profile clothes, but not the person? One guy years ago tries to set off an explosive with his shoe, so every traveler from that time on has to take off the shoes.
On Christmas day, A Nigerian national boarded a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with his underpants packed with explosives. His frighty whities came with a special pouch to hold the explosives, no doubt sewn by al Qaeda’s finest seamstresses. You can just hear Louisiana’s own Jerry Lee Lewis hollerin’ “Great Balls of Fire.” All to no avail as his crotch bomb failed to ignite, and alert passengers wrestled the terrorist thug to the ground.
The Head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, was quick to say that “the system worked.” Yeah, right. The attacker’s father, a Nigerian banker, had warned both U.S. and Nigerian authorities that his son had become a religious radical and was dangerous. Britain had refused to grant him a student visa this past May. But his U.S. visa was not revoked and no follow up investigation was undertaken. He almost set off the bomb, but it malfunctioned. And the head of U.S. air security says “the system worked.”
So now there is holiday chaos at airports all over the country. Everyone gets patted down, and detailed questions are asked: “What exactly did you have for lunch?” We live in a world of computer technology where your credit card company knows your shirt size and the brand of deodorant you use. Yet federal officials are not capable of maintaining an updated potential terrorist list.
It would seem to be both efficient and prudent to run the passengers’ name though an updated database to flag guys like the crotch bomber. But that would mean we would have to rely on the FBI to do their job and maintain a current system of potential terrorists. Just a few months ago, the Inspector general for the Justice Department issued a scathing report highly critical of the FBI for being way to slow in adding terrorist suspects to a national watch list. According to the report: “We believe that the FBI’s failure to consistently nominate subjects of international and domestic terrorism investigations to the terrorist watch list could pose a risk to national security,” the report stated. “The failure to nominate terrorism subjects can also lead to missed opportunities in gathering important intelligence, and it can place front-line law enforcement and screening personnel at increased risk.”
And then there is the bungling of the TSA itself.
ABC News reported just last week that: “In a massive security breach, the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) inadvertently posted online its airport screening procedures manual, including some of the most closely guarded secrets regarding special rules for diplomats and CIA and law enforcement officers.”
Perhaps not the kind of “open government” the White House has in mind. The most sensitive parts of the document include details on how many bags are searched for explosives, which nationalities are subject to extra scrutiny, and other details of airport security that really should remain secret.
All in all, it was a bad week for the TSA, the FBI, and millions of travelers all over the United States. But hey, you can be sure that when a mother travels with her babies, the baby food has been checked and no explosives have been mixed in. Don’t you feel a lot safer?
To paraphrase Trotsky in a manner even the most dense can understand: “You may not be interested in man-caused disasters, but man-caused disasters are most certainly interested in you.” Bruno Strozek
Peace and Justice
Jim Brown’s weekly column appears in numerous newspapers and websites throughout the south. To read past columns going back to 2002, go to www.jimbrownla.com.