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TSA LogoSince September 11, 2001, there has not been a successful terrorist attack on a US-bound aircraft.  For only $8.1 billion annually (2011 budget), the trained professionals of the Transportation Safety Administration have kept American skies safe from the bad guys.  Or have they?

Prior to September 11, 2001, there weren’t very man successful terrorist attacks on a US-bound aircraft either.  That’s what made 9/11 possible:  we had no idea such evil was possible.  Pilot training at the time actually encouraged compliance with hijackers (which the 9/11 terrorists were presumed to be).  In response to the tragic loss of almost 3,000 lives that day, the United States Congress made some excellent decisions and a remarkably bone-headed one.  Hopefully it’s not too late to fix the bone-headed one.

Excellent Decisions

1) Lock the cockpit during flight.  Per FAA regulations issued in 2002, airplane cockpits must be reinforced to prevent break-ins and locked during flight.  Keeping bad guys out of the cockpit would have saved both World Trade Centers, the Pentagon, and about 2,500 lives on 9/11.

2) Deploy Air Marshals – Federal Air Marshals are US Law Enforcement personnel trained to eliminate threats in the air.  It’s unclear how many flights have them, but my guess is that overseas flights are more likely to include an Air Marshal.  The element of surprise is also a great way to disrupt terrorist plans since they now have to account for the possibility of an armed Air Marshal on every flight.

3) Inform the Public – Now that the public knows that bad guys are willing to kill everyone on the plane, including themselves, we’re much more willing to fight back.  That’s what made heroes of the passengers on United Flight 93.  Those who subdued the “Underwear Bomber” and other recent copycats are also heroes and representative of a now-wary US population.

4) Profile the Bad Guys – The underwear bomber’s name was on a government terrorist database for known terrorist sympathies, he bought a one-way ticket with cash, and he had no luggage on his flight from Amsterdam.  How that slipped past airport screeners we’ll never know.  The TSA clearly failed in this case, but the ability to profile with a decent degree of accuracy is there.  While no one knows what the future holds, there has not been a single airplane terrorist attempt made by a woman, a retiree, or a child.  Men between the ages of 20-45 with Muslim names or nationatilities shouldn’t be discriminated against but they SHOULD be investigated with care.  Any law-abiding man in that same group would agree.  Further, other men in the same age group (including myself) should be considered with a greater degree of suspicion than a 7-year-old girl.

Bone-Headed Decision

1) Airport Screening – Other than providing a great way for agents to meet women and steal from travelers, the TSA’s airport screening hasn’t achieved anything noteworthy.  Instead, it has racked up a bill of $5.75 billion each year (based on FY11 budget), lengthened check-in times by 10-20 minutes for most travelers, and failed to find bombs during routine testing.  If wasting time and money with no recognizable return can’t get a program axed, I don’t know what could.  I’d much rather see this money spent investigating potential terrorists identified by in-depth profiling or hiring more Air Marshals.

[Author’s Note:  For additional information, see this article by the Cato Institute or google Bruce Schneier.  He’s not winning many friends on Capitol Hill but he’s still right.]

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Written by floridaconservative

February 14, 2013 at 6:00 PM

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