Dangerous Mixture: Political Correctness and Incompetence

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By Susan Stamper Brown

The TSA’s new security program of enhanced pat downs and intrusive body scan x-ray machines is a stunning example of what happens when you intertwine political correctness with incompetence. Notwithstanding there is question of the machines’ effectiveness to detect low-density powder explosives such as the PETN used by last year’s Christmas Day BVD bomber and that invasive screening could be in violation of the Fourth Amendment, it seems that treating all travelers equally simply fails the common sense test.

One such example is the (now rescinded) decision to force airline pilots to undergo the same scrutiny as Joe the Traveler.  It is disconcerting that our leadership failed to understand that pilots who already stash weapons in their cockpits and get paid to operate flying missiles from one city to the next, really have no need to hide explosives between their legs.

During a recent interview with political commentator Juan Williams, TSA director John Pistole suggested the new procedures could help to subvert attacks such as the recent fake toner cartridge incident in Europe, but somehow failed to make a reasonable connection as to how groping grandma before she boards a passenger plane headed for Pasadena could prevent a terrorist from blowing up a cargo plane bound for the U.S. But, because it’s best to give our leaders the benefit of the doubt, we’ll have to believe that the administration must have received actionable intelligence that a rogue wheelchair-bound European grandma stashed explosives up her you-know-what and rolled past security, up the cargo ramp, and into the belly of the cargo plane bound for Chicago.

Homeland Security’s reactionary response is ill-conceived because taking away travelers’ sodas, shampoos, sharp objects, shoes and dignity is as ineffective as attempting to put out a raging forest fire by boot stomping tiny spot fires ignited by firebrands. Ponder the enhanced-enhanced pat down procedure should someone attempt to employ an improvised enema device in air.

With outrageous hypothesis aside and considering that all recent terrorist attempts – including the recent attempt to bomb a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon – are linked to Muslim extremists, it only makes sense to consider the implementation of a more intelligent screening approach.

Israel, for example, has a near perfect incident record, profiles travelers – but not in the way one might expect. Israel takes a pro-active approach using world class intelligence and highly trained profilers who make direct eye contact while conversing with those entering the airport terminal. Travelers’ names and photographs are cross-checked by a data base simultaneously and most travelers make it to their gate within 25 minutes. No groping, no x-raying – and no incidences since 2002.

Because our Constitution charges the Executive Branch with the responsibility of protecting our rights and not removing them, it is high time the administration acknowledges that their political correctness could be killing us. The managing partner of my old law firm placed what he called an “incompetence” jar on his desk that was filled with coins dropped in by errant employees.  If there is such a jar in Washington, it would most certainly overflow.

Copyright 2010 Susan Stamper Brown

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