Terror

I wrote this earlier this year in response to another article. But with all the TSA hubbub going on right now, I thought it would be a good time to (finally) post it.


During my daily browsing of CNN while at work, I came across this article.

Commentary: Americans need to stop whining about air security

The opinion piece starts off simply enough: security may be a hassle, but it’s for the greater good. Deal with it.  But the author keeps hammering the point, essentially saying that he doesn’t care what the TSA does: if it gets him to his destination safely, it’s a necessary evil.

Well, hold on a minute.  The problem is that you can never have 100% security.  Even if every airport in the country was able to use those full body scanners starting tomorrow, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.  Terrorists are smart folks. Well, the terrorists that come up with the plans of attack are.  Those who actually get on the plane to execute the plan are not — but perhaps that is why they’re the ones getting on the plane.  Anyway, my point is: they will figure out a plan to sneak some terror agent onto a flight and not get detected.  And it may not even be a flaw in the technology: a distracted TSA worker, a momentary lapse of judgment, is all it takes to let the wrong person through at the wrong time.

And guess what?  Who says terrorists have to use planes? At some point they’re going to figure out that there are much easier ways to cause panic.  When was the last time you had to pass through a security checkpoint at the mall?  At a concert? At a restaurant?  And even if there was some sort of security measure, I’m willing to bet it wasn’t nearly as thorough as an airline security checkpoint.

So, what happens if there is an attack on one of these places?  Well, lets take a look at past history.  When a terrorist tried to sneak explosives on board a plane with his shoes, it became mandatory to take off your shoes and put them through the x-ray machine. When a terrorist tried to ignite explosives in the final part of a flight, the TSA decided that passengers can no longer get up from their seat an hour before landing.

If, god forbid, there is a terrorist attack at your local mall, it would seem likely that the knee-jerk response would be to implement security checkpoints at the mall.

At concerts.

At restaurants.

And not just the "wave a wand and carry on" type of security — no, it would have to be the "take everything off except your clothes" type.

Do you know where that leaves us?  Scared.  Inconvenienced.  Hassled.  Terrorized.

Look, these terrorist attacks are horrible.  No one can deny that.  But what also cannot be denied is that it is impossible to have 100% security.  Any idiot with a death wish — and a death wish for hundreds of strangers — can ignite a bomb in a public place.  Luckily, in most Western countries, we are vigilent enough, and have the intelligence resources, to catch these types of events before they occur.  But sometimes they slip through.  And it’s tragic.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the lives that are lost.  It’s easy to beef up security, to show that there is some sort of response in the name of the tragedy.

But it’s important not to overreact, or our piece of mind, our trust, our integrity, our privacy, and our way of life get destroyed.  For all of us.  And that is worse than just about any terrorist attack you could imagine.

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