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Posted by Lawrence "LAW" Watford - - 0 comments

I knew it was coming. Perhaps it's because I've been subject to "step aside" searches at the airport on a number of occasions, but still I knew that it was only a matter of time before your standard "club bouncer" pat down was instituted, along with some kind of a TOTAL RECALL like scanner (had been talked about for years without much concern from the public soon after 9/11) - Yet now it seems like everyone has retreated to a pre-9/11 mentality on that issue.


This wouldn't be news worthy except for the fact that the ones whining about these security measures are the ones who said "Let us never forget 9/11" every day on the floor of the house for at least a year after the Twin Towers came down. And it was them who came out in droves for a "9/12" rally just a short time ago. Yet this is where we find ourselves... Americans are nuts.

Let's be clear. Half of the Americans protesting the TSA's security measures are legitimately concerned about privacy, another portion are legitimately concerned about overreach by the government, but a loud portion are perpetual protesters seeking to inflict "death by a thousand cuts" on President Obama - politically speaking . I get the concern of the two legitimate groups. Our privacy is an integral part of our liberty as Americans (so long as you're not talking about things like drug use and gender issues). But as far as I'm concerned the Patriot Act eroded the foundations of our liberty for the cause of security. Most folks on the right (true libertarians excluded ) defended the Patriot Act with 'hey, if the government wants to listen to my boring conversations - fine. I have nothing to hide, it it means we're safer' (that 's Sean Hannity, btw ). Well, now we're exposed to the slippery slope of Partiot Act-logic since we're dealing with "fruit of kaboom" terrorist... That is terrorist that have bombs in their briefs.

So the question is how do we deal with a "fruit of kaboom" terrorist?.... I know! I know!... The conservatives say
'do what the Israelis do... They racially profile and we're too politically correct here They look you in the eye and asks lots of questions to judge if you're suspicious, etc. etc....'
Well let's examine their naiveté on this point. First and foremost, conservatives are trying to conflate what the Israeli's do (which is behavioral profiling) with what they've been championing here (which is racial profiling). So by simply using the word "profiling" to describe Israel's airport security measures they're either displaying a keen ignorance or they just "don't do nuance" to an astounding degree. And for the life of me I can't understand why allowing the government to racially profile is such a victory for them. As a person who's been racially profiled, I can tell my conservative friends with the utmost confidence, "dude, it's not cool". And you got the never to talk about the TSA violating your liberty... Please! - but I digress.

Secondly, it only takes a small amount of logic and common sense to understand that if a terrorist makes it through Israeli airport security and on to a plane- well obviously that plane is LEAVING Israel.. In other words the threat is being carried out of Israel, which would also mean that Israel has a much bigger concern with planes leaving for Israel from other countries... you know, countries like the United States...

And again, logic should also remind conservatives that Israel's most ardent enemies (my friend mentioned the PLO - which really makes my point) are neighbors... They are within driving distance of Israel... close enough to fire rockets and hit... Why would Al-Qaeda elect to expend the energy to get a terrorist through security to board a plane leaving the very country they want to attack? Doesn't make much sense when you think about it. In fact, one of the reasons that Israeli airport security is without incident is because terrorist attacks in Israel have historically targeted buses.

So the "Talk to Israel" "they look you in the eye and ask questions" solution has merit, but as much as folks would like Israel to be USA-EAST it ain't the United States and what works for them with a country that small won't work for us with country this large.

Also, the Israeli behavioral profiling solution seems awfully odd coming from a certain conservative wing of the country who suggest that Al-Qaeda can train themselves to resit our torture (I'm sorry - enhanced interrogation) techniques now that they have been publicized... If it's possible to train yourself to withstand water-boarding, then it seems most certainly possible for highly trained and highly funded terror groups to have a few people go through Israeli airport security and write down what the process is and what the questions are and so forth, and train themselves to pass lie detector test and beat the behavior profile for a terror suspect, no?

So again, the question is how do we deal with a fruit of Kaboom bomber in a post 9/11 America where we have proven that we deserve neither liberty nor security because we so willingly gave it up 9 years ago?

As far as TSA goes - I guess the conservative remedy for Airport security is to do away with the
scanners, the pat downs and while we're at it, the shoe and liquid thing and start asking questions to trained, highly funded terrorist that are trained to resist torture... oh, and racially profile. Other than that, I'm not hearing much in terms of real solutions... But should the President cave on this - which wouldn't surprise me- then I trust that we will hear much on FOX "news" about how "Obama let this happen" or had a "pre-9/11" mentality about airport security, although it seems like the complainers are the ones most guilty of this.

Just so you know, the stuff being used in the explosive devices being brought on to planes is a substance called PETN... Here's a little info on it and may shed light on why these measures are necessary. From the Guardian UK:

PETN is non-metallic so it does not show up in x-ray machines. Because it is so energetic, only small amounts of the explosive are used, and these can easily be hidden on the body or in electrical equipment. PETN-based bombs can be detected by the electrical wiring and detonators that accompany them, but there are ways around this. If the bomb is built into electrical equipment, such as a printer, it can easily be missed amid the device's own wiring and components.

On Christmas day last year, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab hid PETN in his underpants in a failed attack on a Northwest Airlines flight to Detroit. The bomb escaped detection in part because Abdulmutallab used a plastic syringe filled with a chemical detonator that was hard to spot with an x-ray scanner. Last summer, Abdullah Hassan al-Asiri, the brother of the man suspected of building the latest devices, tried to assassinate the Saudi deputy interior minister after evading security detectors by hiding a PETN-based bomb inside his body. Around 100g of PETN is enough to destroy a car.
SO - if we can't detect the PETN (because the technology doesn't exist), then what's left is to try and detect the devices used to detonate it. If it's in a plastic syringe (as was the case of the X-mas underwear bomber, then the only way you'll find it is a pat down or x-ray screening.


Now just for the record, I'm not saying that I think the current system is "all good, yo" or that they shouldn't modify and make adjustments. A woman having to remove a prosthetic breast is overboard... But if the threats are high and a pat down is deemed necessary, then so be it until a better solution comes about. And folks need to dial it down. For the majority of us, you only get the pat down if you opt out of the scanner. Only 10% of passengers are subject to random pat downs. Here you can read FACTS about the TSA security measures.

But if you are still up in arms after learning the facts, then here are two other alternatives... Since conservatives don't have a problem with the patriot act, they can allow the government to randomly screen their travel, phone, and email history and use that to assess them as potential threats. After all Sean Hannity and others routinely say they don't have a problem with the government listening in on their conversations if it makes them safer - or so was the case when it was a Bush Administration listening.... OOOORRRR

They can have two separate flight statuses... They can schedule TSA Pat down/scanner flights where all the passengers have chosen to go through those security measures OR they can book the 9/10 (poking Beck) flight where folks just use the racial profiling, metal detectors and The "look into their eyes - window of their souls" Q&A security method. I think that'd be fair...

But in jest: If we're talking about the Q&A/behavior profile method, let's consider that Sarah Palin was asked what she reads to inform her world view about politics and froze up... Call me crazy, but that would look pretty suspicious to me if I was a TSA agent, so I'd bet my little pay check that if she was in Israel, she would've made the "no fly list" there based on their behavioral profiling... lol

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