If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) could compete for an Emmy, it would definitely be a winner. Its "Security Theatre" has become a cutting-edge soap opera, replete with comedy, drama and ultimately, tragedy.
And the latest episode is making the biggest headlines yet.
The TSA has sliced and diced a prior position, and is now permitting passengers to carry knives onto planes.
Yes. Knives. Those sharp, pointy things that can puncture a pilot’s jugular in a heartbeat, make flight attendants talk like Stephen Hawking, and create total pandemonium at 35,000 feet.
If so many people’s lives, not to mention the entire economy, were not jeopardized by this warped decision, it would be funny. But this is definitely no joke.
However, you can take solace. The TSA has shown great sensitivity to the 9/11 attacks by keeping box-cutters banned, despite the steely fact that their blades are but a fraction of those on the permissible knives. Another oxymoron we call "TSA Consistency."
Even more comical is the TSA’s criteria for the knives. If the blade is no more than 2.36" long and a half-inch wide, it will fly the (un)friendly skies. The blade must also be one that folds away, which is, presumably, because the TSA thinks a 2.36" folded blade (which is locked when opened) can’t kill someone. More reassuring, the knife cannot have a molded handle, which should be a huge relief to everyone — except those who actually fly.
Why the monumental shift in TSA policy? In addition to wanting to be more in-line with Europe (honest to God, that’s no joke), it says security lines are congested because TSA screeners are confiscating thousands of such knives, and these items don’t pose a 9/11-type threat anyway.
Oh. So because druggies and shoplifters create logjams in our courts, we should just give in and make their actions legal?
And how exactly will lines be shortened with TSA screeners now using tape measures to ensure that 2.37" knives don’t slip by? Although, truth be told, they could all just emulate the Philadelphia Airport, where everything seems to get through.
The TSA is convinced that a 9/11 hijacking can never occur again because so much has changed: steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence. And there you have it: TSA’s "risk-based" security plan. Which is really great, except the parts about the steel cockpit doors, a vigilant flying public, air marshals and better intelligence.
1) Yes, cockpit doors are strengthened, but since there aren’t self-contained bathrooms in the cockpit, pilots are absolutely vulnerable every time nature calls.
2) Is the TSA expecting passengers to work "fight-the-knife-freak" duty? And how many people are the TSA willing to sacrifice? It’s not just the doped up or drunk passenger who stabs the flight attendant because he hated the in-flight movie. It’s a handful of Mohammed Attas coordinating a vicious attack, each wielding several legal weapons. Sound familiar? It should, since box-cutters were legal on 9/11. Once the attack commences, then what? Maybe they gain entrance to the cockpit, and maybe not. But when you’re dealing with fanatics who can’t wait to meet Allah and all those supposed virgins, it’s going to be a bloodbath. And since sophisticated terrorists always utilize surprise, they will gain the upper hand immediately.
Can’t wait for the TSA press conference after an aircraft lands with 300 dead passengers and crew. "Yeah, they all got stabbed to death. But hey! We didn’t lose the plane!"
And guess what? The economy would collapse anyway.
3) Air marshals? Sorry, they’ve been sequestrationed, and only fly on a small percentage of flights anyway. For the record, they vehemently oppose the TSA knife policy. Next.
4) Better intelligence. Really? Where? Like in New York in 2010, when the Muslim fundamentalist Times Square bomber was caught by Lady Luck? You may remember him. After fleeing Manhattan, he went to the airport, bought a one-way ticket to the Middle East — in cash —, boarded the plane, and almost almost took off. And best of all, he was on the No-Fly List!
Or the 2009 Christmas Day underwear bomber who, only through sheer ineptness, didn’t bring down a jumbo jet over the U.S. He was also on our watch lists, and his own father repeatedly warned our intelligence communities of his son’s intentions, yet he too almost succeeded.
Out of curiosity, does that "better intelligence" include the countless alphabet-soup agencies that still wage turf wars with each other and don’t share information? Just wondering.
Of course, there is a much better solution. It’s called profiling, and it works really, really well. Just ask the Israelis, who know a thing or two about terrorists. (El Al has only been hijacked once).
But out of deference to possible hurt feelings, we refuse. In fact, because of our affinity for political correctness, we do the opposite. The TSA actually announces who doesn’t have to take off their shoes (all children under 12), and who won’t be subject to pat-downs (children, the wheelchair-bound, and pretty much anyone who complains). Which is all well and good except that the Brotherhood of Mohammed Atta has no problem sacrificing their kids, so guess on whom they will hide their explosives?
In 2007, the then-TSA chief lifted the ban on lighters and matches, admitting that policy was "security theatre." Nothing has changed, as the TSA continues with policies that not only aren’t keeping the skies safe, but actually make them more dangerous.
Unfortunately, Security Theatre has become an all-too-true reality show, playing out every day at thousands of airports. And it’s only a matter of time before it crashes and burns.
But in the meantime, in the hope that Security Theatre can jump to the big screen, the least we could do is suggest some appropriate movie titles. Not sure if the copyrights have expired on these, but here’s taking a stab at it:
Jagged Edge, Blade Runner, Con Air, Fight Club, Skyfall, Airport ’13, and, in honor of when TSA officials fly, Snakes On A Plane.
Chris Freind is an independent commentator who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at [email protected]