Your Mother Always Told You…

distributorcap NY

o wear clean underwear because you just never know when you might be in an accident. Well add to that when you are have to fly.

According to investigators, the bomb on Northwest flight 253, which was en route from Amsterdam to Detroit when suspect Umar farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly detonated it, contained more than 80 grams of PETN. The material was allegedly sewn into Abdulmutallab’s underwear, and was not detected by airport security.

Ever since Richard Reid “the shoe-bomber” was thwarted in the famous trans-Atlantic incident in 2001, people have had to take off their shoes when going through airport security. If taking off our shoes has become part of the screening routine, I would venture that taking off the boxers, briefs, panties and skivvies will become part of the protocol thanks to the underwear-bomber.

Or maybe we should all just fly commando?

I am not minimizing the severity of this incident. Airport security needs to be taken very seriously and be as thorough as possible. But let’s be real – it is just not possible to prevent every possible act of airline, bus, subway, or building terrorism. I am not advocating an end to security or loosening of procedures. What I am advocating (or rather wishing for) is that the media would stop making every single incident the next installment of Chiller Theatre. The drive for ratings (because nothing gets those Nielsen meters registering like terrorism, the potential for a terrorist attack or Tiger Woods) so trumps any rational plea for calm and intelligent discussion on security.

So with the media shifting into their “terror frenzy” (this one will surely last more than one news cycle day) and Pavlov’s dogs the perfectly trained American public ready to go into their “bunker mentality” (it is amazing that while the learning curve for academic subjects in this country is probably at an all time low, the Republican-led education of living in fear is working like a charm), expect the following:
The Republicans calling Obama weak on terrorism and blaming him for the “near-miss”
The TSA “tightening security”
The call for new machinery at airport checkpoints
Calls for the TSA to ban flights from other countries until they fix their security leaks (because ours are so good).
#1 has already happened – Representative Pete Hoekstra (R-Asshole) has already started the politicizing of the incident. I am surprised it took several hours (as opposed to several minutes), but I guess the Republicans were still busy with the National War on Christmas to focus on the Global War on Terrorism. (Too many wars, too little time).

#2 has already happened as well. The TSA has instituted the “looks like we are doing something” campaign by not allowing people to get out of their seats for the last hour of the flight (which, correct me if I am wrong, is a pretty ridiculous rule since you can light your ass on fire 70 minutes before the plane lands as well), but not allowing anything on your lap for the last hour and by asking people to show up 4 days before their flight leaves.

I hope the TSA is supplying the airlines with a lot of paper cups and bedpans for those who have to go to the bathroom in the last hour.

#3 will never happen because the TSA will tell you they don’t have enough money. (Since the money to develop and buy machinery that can detect plastic bombs is probably all tied up in Afghanistan fighting the 100 terrorists who are hidden in Pakistan instead of improving security at airports, seaports etc.)

#4 – watch the Teabaggers and far right start demanding it. If I was the rest of the world I would glad accommodate.

In two weeks, everything will go back to just like it was on December 24th. But for two weeks, all air travelers will have endure endless lines and some ridiculous rules (like no getting up the last hour) so the TSA can appear like they are on the ball. After the required amount of time for the ADD Americans to get their fear fix, the sense of complacency will settle back and we can all go on until the next incident (when this starts all over again).

You got to love this roller coaster. Instead of getting to the root of the problem or spending the time and money to really improve security, the US continues to trot out band-aids and window dressing as real security (which to me is exactly what Afghanistan is – only that war is a much more expensive security band-aid in terms of human lives and money). Sad thing is – most Americans buy the hype and think the window-dressing works when no other incidents happen.

If this country’s morbid fear of fear wasn’t so pathetic, it would actually be funny. If we spent as much time and money on real security measures and education as we did on living in fear, we might actually be able to lower or even prevent incidents like the underwear bomber. As a side effect of better education and less antagonistic rhetoric – maybe, just maybe – the world would stop hating us so much and not want to perpetrate acts of violence against American targets so often.

But what do I know? I guess I am just a tree-hugging liberal who doesn’t understand it is a nasty world out there and everyone is after us.

Copyright 2009

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