In nearly a decade it hasn’t captured a single terrorist.
It is September 11 that immediately comes to mind when most Americans think of terrorism. Although the 9/11 attacks were indeed horrific terrorism’s first big heyday may have been the 1980s.
More than 300 were killed in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. A U.S. Navy diver was killed during the 1985 Hezbollah hijacking of TWA flight 847. The same year a wheelchair-bound American was killed during a take-over of the Mediterranean cruise ship Achille Lauro.
Using grenades and assault weapons Palestinian gunmen killed 19 and wounded 140 on attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports in late 1985. In 1986, four U.S. citizens were killed by a bombing aboard TWA #840 en route to Athens. Two U.S. servicemen were killed and dozens were injured when a bomb detonated in a West Berlin discotheque in 1986. The bombing of New York-bound Pan Am flight 103 in 1988 killed all 259 passengers and crew and another 11 people on the ground in Lockerbie, England. One-hundred ninety of those killed were American.
In a previous career I was a U.S. intelligence officer stationed in London during the 1980s. I traveled extensively throughout Europe and the Middle East. I worked on terrorism and related issues. During that time I was in a small group that had access to a highly classified codeword program focusing on suspected terrorists and terrorism planning. Not a single alleged terrorist planner was ever caught or an anticipated attack thwarted as a result of this program. Yet, that did not stop the sponsors of the program from claiming incredible success.
I am reminded of this as I review of the performance of the Transportation Security Administration. In nearly a decade there is not a single report of a terrorist having been caught during the TSA screening process. No bombs have been discovered. No hijackings have been thwarted. For the TSA to claim it has made the nation’s skies safer is as absurd as the rooster taking credit for the sun rising each morning. Observant passengers have caught more terrorist-wannabes than the 67,000 TSA employees.
My low opinion of the TSA is not due to recent events but began soon after the agency was created. The recent spate of reports of TSA officials acting irresponsibly has finally brought the agency much needed scrutiny.
It is long past time to disband the TSA. Replace it with an effective, free market system that actually works.
Critics of the TSA’s naked body scanners and intrusive pat-downs (including its genital probing) miss the biggest problem with this agency. It is the TSA’s premise that the 89-year old great-grandmother in a walker, the soccer team comprised of 11-year old girls, the two-year old toddler on the family vacation, the airline crewmember and the soldier traveling home from Iraq pose the same potential threat to airline safety as the Middle Eastern man traveling alone, without luggage, on a one-way First Class ticket that was purchased with cash. The TSA is fueled by political correctness run amuck. Its sole accomplishments to date have been establishing a sizable airport presence and humiliating passengers.
For a number of years following 9/11 I regularly flew between Baltimore and Atlanta. I was saddened at the all-too-frequent sight of a soldier dressed in his camouflage uniform on the way to or from his two-week R&R with boots off and the contents of his backpack strewn across the floor as a TSA agent nosed through the belongings to see what potential threat faced other air travelers.
No one has been spared the unwarranted indignities and gross violations of privacy perpetrated by the TSA.
In 2002, then-75 year old Congressman John Dingell (D-MI) was forced to strip down to his underwear because his artificial hip set-off alarms on the magnetometer. The issue is not that Dingell should undergo the same invasive inspections as everyone else. Instead, it is that the 99% of American airline passengers who do not raise meaningful red flags should not be subjected to such invasive inspections. (As an aside, I happen to believe members of Congress pose a greater threat to the American way of life when they are voting than when flying.)
Then-U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) was asked to produce a picture I.D. at the Washington National Airport security screening area before a 2002 trip. Reagan National is the airport used by nearly every member of Congress when flying. Burns showed the TSA screener his U.S. Senate identification. The official refused to accept the government-issued I.D. but allowed Burns to proceed to his flight when he produced his Sam’s Club shopping card as proof of identification.
Retired Brigadier General and former South Dakota Governor Joe Foss nearly lost his Medal of Honor when TSA officials threatened to confiscate it from him during a 2002 screening of his carry-on belongings. Believing the medal could be used as a weapon, the TSA screeners fortunately relented when the 86-year old showed them a photograph of President Franklin Roosevelt presenting the medal to him for his WWII heroics.
In 2003, a U.S. Army medic who was wounded in Afghanistan when he was shot in the jaw was grossly mishandled at San Francisco International Airport. His jaw wired shut, the soldier was given a small pair of wire clippers to use in the event he became air sick in order to keep from choking on his vomit. TSA officials confiscated his wire clippers and he was forced to fly from San Francisco to Texas even though flight attendants informed him there was nothing on board the aircraft to open his jaw in an emergency.
In 2004, a chartered airline flight rotating an Army unit back to the U.S. from an Afghanistan deployment was stranded on the tarmac at San Francisco airport for hours during a layover. The troops were not permitted to deplane to purchase food and drink nor to use the bathroom. TSA officials ruled the soldiers posed a threat to airport security because the unit’s weapons were stored in the cargo hold of the aircraft.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?