An Adult Talk about TSA and The War on Terrorisim | An Old Soldiers View
Folks, it is that time when we need to have a serious talk about the War on Terrorists and travel in the USA. Recent changes in the screening process have raised an awful lot of hackles and there are some good points brought forward clouded by a fair bit of whining. Time to separate a bit of the wheat from the chaff.
Folks, it did not take the attempt to fire a car bomb in time square to remind me that there are enemy agents here in the US. It did not take the London Bomb Airline Bomb Plot to remind me that these people will use women and small children to conceal explosives. Things like baby bottles, lotion bottles, hair gel containers, were used because evil people had watched the process and determined what the authorities were not checking. That is the nature of warfare. Do I really need to remind you that when we don’t check Nuns and Children or Granny in her chair, or a prosthesis device;. That is where the next device will be concealed? I have read accounts of Palestinian Mothers who were grateful their Children could become Martyrs, this is the enemy we face.
Racial profiling is not the profiling they use in the Israeli model, since if you mixed up 15 Palestinians and 15 Israelis dressed alike you wouldn’t know who was who. There are blonde Bosnian Muslims, and dark featured Iraqi Christians. There are Black White, and Brown American Muslims. So for those that say just profile the Muslims I ask you to tell anyone how you pick them out. If you think you can than I am here to tell you that you underestimate our enemy.
Are there ways to do these checks better? I would suppose so and as the process continues I expect, and we all should demand that they are brought to bear. Is the TSA a stumblebum? I would point to the fact that no known attempt at hijacking or bombing has emanated from a US Airport since 9/11/2001. Someone in that organization is doing something right. It the process could certainly be better.
I have heard a hue and cry for us to adopt the Israeli profiling model as the primary screening method. It works in Israel for about 40-60 international flights per day, and you have to be there three hours early. But what folks don’t know is that some of the profiling procedures have been in use with the airlines and TSA for many years.
I know this because I traveled in and out of Baghdad every four months from 2004-2009. I was routinely identified by both the Airlines and TSA (and Foreign equivalents) for ‘Additional Screening’ and routinely searched at little old Savannah International Airport every time I returned to work. Often by US Customs on my return to the states I would receive the same treatment of my luggage. This is a statement of fact not a complaint, I have seen up close and personal the result an airplane crash has on the human body and I appreciated it. This process adds to the gate time at the Airport, not a big deal if your arrival and departures are planned for that. But what folks don’t consider is, that at the larger busier US Airports the gate turn around time is already solidly booked, if you increase that time, then you are going to have fewer flights. By probably a third. Think about the economic impact that would have.
Here is the fundamental fact that you must consider when traveling here in the US. WE ARE AT WAR. In WWII aluminum and copper bottom pots and pans were collected from housewives by the government to make the machines of war. Gas was rationed; folks understood they had a part to play in the defense of this nation. This is now the new norm, searches either electronically, verbally, or physically must be conducted for air and probably soon for rail travel (Think Barcelona). You have a choice to use alternative methods, or you can do the equivalent of staring the terrorists in the eye and by your actions say I will not be run off because of you.
Now a word to the TSA in general. If your supervisors haven’t already explained this then let me just remind you that you are in a customer service security business. You have three entities to answer to. Your Employer (TSA), Your Client (The American People), and your Customers (The Flying Public). If you are not approaching your duties in a professional way, be prepared for some significant events. Take a moment at the start of each shift, and after every break, to stop and put yourself in your customers shoes. If you do your duties well, folks will ultimately appreciate the fact that you did. If not, look for FOX, CNN, the Local TV Stations, etc to hear about it and start the poop ball rolling from above. To the flying public I would ask that if you are treated poorly that you get that screeners name and file a report, if not with the government than with one of the news organizations mentioned above. Be specific, with the details date and time, and identify the individual that gave you poor treatment.
I’ve heard one gentleman on TV remind folks that after 9/11 he had to attend 11 funerals and didn’t wish to have to do it again. Well folks when you line up for whatever method of screening please contemplate the more than 500 service members that have given their lives in Afghanistan for your safety. Consider that while they were living the inconvenience of a backscatter body search would have been minor considering where they were living and where the troops that hold that line live now. It is but a small part you may have to play in the war but this is your part; Do your Duty.
I’ll just wrap this up by reminding all sides in this that we face a determined and evolving enemy. Vigilance is a necessity, and a mind set unto itself. One that we would be wise to adopt every time we travel.
Now I’ve given my talk and I certainly would be the last one to tell you I have all the answers. So if we can foster a civil discussion in the comments I’m all for reading what others think, keep it civil, and we’ll have a good time. God Bless you all!
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