What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.
 

Dec. 30 2009 - 10:00 pm | 1,257 views | 7 recommendations | 14 comments

Captain Underpants and the Illusion of Security

DESHAILES, GUADELOUPE – I doubt there are many people who would look forward to leaving this little piece of paradise. I am sitting on the deck of a sailboat anchored in the harbor of this quaint fishing village.

I just finished a hot croissant delivered by an enterprising young man plying the water on an inflatable dinghy (deftly prying Euros from my wallet with inflated prices – C’est la Vie!). The sun is shining, the breeze is steady and the temperature is 80°F.

What could be wrong with this picture?  Nothing except what dutifully drops into my Kindle every morning via Whispernet (as opposed to the old Eastern Whisperjets…)

The absurd, inane, horse-out-of-the-barn response to the Christmas Day “Fruit of the Boom” Bomber-wannabe gives me even more reason to dread the trip back home.

My Kindle tells me my family and I will face long lines, lots of questions, pat down searches and an hour of lockdown time in our seats before landing. It is as if my ruler-brandishing first-grade teacher Sister Grace took over Delta Air Lines. “Books away – feet on the floor – hands on your desk – eyes straight ahead…”

It is brilliant thinking like the new seat arrest rule that should tell you a lot about our ill-conceived approach to thwarting terrorists who continue to find plane loads full of innocent Americans to be tempting targets. I don’t suppose future terrorists might try to light some portion of their clothing 61 minutes before landing do you?

What about the baby who needs a bottle or a passy on descent and is crying his lungs out?  God help him, his mother and the rest of us…

We put the jerk in knee-jerk with the way we respond to threats.

Our Homeland Security Czarina Janet Napolitano tried to spin the whole thing into a triumph of our security apparatus. At least she didn’t get a “Nappy, you’re doin’ a heckuva a job!” from our Commander-in-Chief, but the Sunday talk show gaffe was one of those moments when the political Cuisinart jams on a big chunk of reality (it does, indeed, bite).

And of course we all know the Brief Bomber laid bare what I have suspected for a long time: that our no nail-clipper, no-hair gel, shoes-off, laptop-out security apparatus is little more than a Potemkin Village. It gives the appearance that we are doing something real  – when all we are really doing is providing travelers a false sense of security – and often a real sense of frustration.

Let’s see: a young man embraces radical Islam and starts spewing some twisted, violent vitriol. His respected, influential father tells the CIA that he fears trouble and the US should revoke his son’s visa. The young man arrives at an an airport without any luggage and buys a one-way ticket to Detroit – with cash. And no one even arches an eyebrow? Come on people…you don’t have to be a security expert to know something was not right with that deal.

There was a time after 9/11 when I would routinely get selected for additional screening whenever I purchased a one-way ticket (which was fairly often given the vicissitudes of the TV News business).  And I was using a corporate Amex card – flying an airline where I had logged a million miles. I used to grumble about it (silently, of course) because I assumed no future terrorist would be so stupid (or cheap) to buy only a one way ticket.

But, as I mentioned, I am no expert.

Here is what any moron can see as plain as day: our $40 billion dollar post-9/11 airline security net is a total joke – a White Elephant of epic (and potentially tragic) proportions.

The truth is the only aspect of our post 9/11 defense that has turned out to be 100% effective are the passengers themselves. Without really thinking about it we have become an airborne militia – all watching and ready to kick al Qaeda butt at the drop of… a pair of trousers. It began in Shanksville – it effectively thwarted the shoe-bomber – and now Captain Underpants.

Which brings me to my big worry: ever since Richard Reid tried to light up his sneakers, we have all had to remove our shoes before boarding. The logical conclusion in this illogical system: government sanctioned panty raids.

Your mother always told you to wear clean underwear.

Or maybe we should just get it over with and fly like the fat, old French guys I see strolling around this little cute Caribbean town: in Speedos and plastic sandals.


Comments

Active Conversation
4 T/S Member Comments Called Out, 14 Total Comments
Post your comment »
 
  1. collapse expand

    Another, equally unsavory solution: would-be air commandos flying ‘commando.’ That would sure challenge the see-though machine screeners – talk about ‘TMI’!

  2. collapse expand

    Ditto the airborne militia. There is a story knocking around about the TSA going after a blogger for running confidential info about a plan which included shutting down communication with aircraft aloft during an emergency. We all recall that it had been cell-phone notification of the Trade Center attacks which motivated the Flight 93 militia to take the plane back. If this is so, it is another case of the piggy mentality, taking self-defense away from the people.

  3. collapse expand

    Too bad this idiotic sociopathic, BriefBomber didn’t yell out “allahuh akhbar, my pants are on fire” while his crotch burst out in flames from a failed detonation of PETN.

    Perhaps this “clue” would give our Professional Intelligence Agencies a CLUE to the source of IslamoFascist Terrorism – Islam.

    But perhaps it’s better that no one knows about the ongoing 1,400 plus year jihad against kafirs directed by the self-proclaimed prophet Mohammed. You know the guy who can’t be seen in a Garfield Cartoon without setting the Muslim World aflame with “outrage”.

    After all, we can’t really BLAME all Muslims if some of them practice Islam and the others just kind of “go with the flow”. Sure we all know someone who has a Muslim friend don’t we? Actually the Koran, Hadith and Sira proscribes over and over again that a Muslim can NOT have a kafir (non-Muslim) as a friend.

    Friendly, yes. Until the kafirs are in a minority or weak majority and you can begin making POLITICAL DEMANDS ON THEM. After all, Islam is a Political System with a few throw away Religious requirements. There is no Golden Rule in Islam.

    If you don’t think so, read the Koran, Hadith and Sira. It is written over and over. Inshallah.

  4. collapse expand

    This whole scenario is frighteningly close to a Robin Williams line about Reid and what would have happened if he placed the explosives someplace other than his shoe. We are now at that insane point. But what to do.

    How long do we have to scream “this doesn’t work” before someone does something about it? Do we have to live through 9/11 Part 2 before someone without a flatline EEG in DC saves us from the TSA?

    We’re killing the airline industry and in return are no sfater than we were on 9/10/01.

  5. collapse expand

    I guess these terrorists are starting to wear the Fruit of the BOOM brand.

  6. collapse expand

    I would gladly trade all so-called “security measures” for the right to fly with a concealed weapon. Americans need to stop trading in their freedoms for the illusion of security.

Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook
 

My T/S Activity Feed

 
     

    About Me

    I am a 26-year broadcast news veteran - with nearly 17 years as CNN’s science, aerospace, technology and environment correspondent. I am an active pilot, airplane owner and a lover of all things that fly. I was slated to be the first journalist to fly on the space shuttle before the Columbia accident ended that dream. I am based in New York City - married with two teenagers and two dogs.

    See my profile »
    Followers: 344
    Contributor Since: February 2009

    What I'm Up To

    Advising NASA…

    Getting ready for the Commerce Committee Hearing on the NASA FY2011 Budget.