Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Running in Chicago...and the TSA

This week, perhaps as you read this, I will be in the skies above this nation flying to and from a business destination.  My business is in Chicago, where I will be staying at an airport hotel, but will not have a rental car.  Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I was able to find out that there is a trail, only a mile from my hotel, along the Des Plaines River near O'Hare Airport, that apparently stretches some miles.

Having scheduled my flights to have plenty of time on either end, I will be able to fit in a nice long run.  Will report after the fact on how it went.

Now, switching over to the aviation side of the equation, turns out that Just an Earth-Bound Misfit just ranted long and hard about airport security and the TSA:

It was pretty clear then, and it is clearer now, that the TSA's job is purely theatrical.

Meanwhile, the pilots and the flight attendants are not at all happy about having to undergo trial by X-ray several times a duty day, and I cannot blame them for that. The TSA says those scanners are safe, but really, does anybody trust for a picosecond anything that the TSA says? It's already come out that the assurance of the TSA that the scanners don't store the images is a lie.

The part about screening the pilots is especially inane. In the cockpit of airliners is a crash ax which, if my recollection is correct, has on its head one really pointy end and one very sharp end. So the TSA makes sure that the pilots don't have a little bitty knife, they feel all happy of their screening the pilots, and then the pilots get to sit in a itty bitty room with the modern equivalent of a war axe. And that doesn't even get into the point that a determined pilot could just crash the airplane and kill all aboard if that was his goal.

Love that last point about the ax!  Don't misunderstand--I am all for security that really and truly makes us safer.  But don't waste our time with security theater.

Along these lines, I can't help but draw a parallel with the broader impacts of 9/11.  Via Spencer Ackerman's Trapped Within a Frame:

Here I was, set to write a long post about the new Woodward book excerpts, when Gulliver distills my intended point in a tweet:

"Does not compute: if we could "absorb" another 9/11, why are we wasting $70B/yr on war that won't prevent it anyway?"

He's referring to an Obama quote about how the U.S. proved resilient after 9/11.


It’s also a point that ultimately cuts against the massive expansion of the Afghanistan war that Obama has instituted. One way of getting close to squaring it is to say that we’re going to go big for a limited period of time in order to mitigate what we can in Afghanistan — the ol’ “so it doesn’t go back to being a safe haven” argument. But that still doesn’t address the basic resource-interest mismatch. And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion from Woodward’s excerpts that the factor inhibiting Obama from addressing it is an inability to break out of the fear-driven politics that surround terrorism, which inhibit counterterrorism vigilance under the guise of bolstering it.

Then there’s this:

Woodward quotes Petraeus as saying, “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It’s a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

Feeling safer and better about your (grand) kids' future?

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