Jewish World Review Sept. 10, 2002 / 4 Tishrei, 5762

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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Consumer Reports

Why the 'air marshals' will fail | Over the Labor Day weekend, reporters for the New York Daily News sneaked weapons onto 14 flights at 11 airports. They were never caught once with their contraband, which included knives, box cutters and pepper spray.

"This is beyond disturbing," said Harvey Kushner, an expert in airport security. "It scares the hell out of me."

The Bush administration deserves savage criticism for its bungling of airport security. But it is unlikely to receive it because the administration's most egregious follies are championed by Democrats in Congress and liberals in the news media.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) already is arguably the worst federal agency, which is remarkable, since the Immigration and Naturalization Service is still with us.

In two stories in August, USA Today reported the air marshal program is in chaos. Hundreds are resigning because they are overworked, and have been lied to by administrators. Veteran marshals bemoan that standards for what had been an elite force have become "like security guard training for the mall."

"We were promised the Garden of Eden. We were given Hell," USA Today quoted a marshal Aug. 29. "If they don't make major changes fast, they're going to have no one left but the bottom of the barrel."

The only thing remarkable about the USA Today stories is that anyone with the good sense G-d gave chipmunks would have expected it to be otherwise. There were fewer than 50 air marshals last Sept. 10, about 6,000 now. It is impossible to expand a work force of any kind by more than 10,000 percent in less than a year without a substantial dimunition in quality.

Even if it were possible to expand the air marshal force so much without turning them into rent-a-cops, it was a stupid thing to try to do, because it draws qualified law enforcement personnel away from equivalent or arguably greater needs, such as guarding our land borders and seaports.

(Most new air marshals have come from the Border Patrol, the Secret Service, and local police departments.)

TSA also has slowed the introduction of bomb detection systems at airports. "Dallas-Fort Worth offered to spend $200 million of its own money to set up a bomb detection system, if the TSA would approve it quickly," the Washington Post reported Sep. 3. "But the agency's top administrators said they didn't want to rush into approving one system."

The sensible way to protect airports is the way the U.S. Marshals Service protects federal courthouses: The government pays for security, and supervises it. But most of the actual work is done by private contractors. But TSA was created by Congress, where common sense is not commonplace. Democrats in the Senate were more interested in creating a new public employee union which would give them campaign contributions than in protecting the lives of Americans.

At the insistence of Congress and Norman Mineta, the lone Democrat in the Bush Cabinet, TSA has placed fidelity to three Politically Correct shibboleths ahead of the protection of Americans:

The first is gun control. If pilots have guns, and hijackers don't, the odds on a successful hijacking drop to near zero. Not only would arming pilots be effective, it could be implemented quickly and cheaply. But it would involve trusting private citizens (more than two thirds of whom are former military officers) with firearms, and this liberals are loathe to do.

The second is profiling. Airport screeners randomly harrass old women and small children because they think it would be somehow wrong to pay special attention to people who might actually be terrorists.

The third is the assumption that only government employees can do anything. Most of the expertise in aviation security is in the private sector, but TSA refuses to call upon it. "They're hiring guys with no experience in airports or aviation," Douglas Laird, a former head of security for Northwest Airlines, told the Washington Post. "To think they could go in and in two weeks be making valid decisions is...ludicrous."

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09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly