02 January 2010

national insecurity

i'm just thrilled to learn that air travel, thanks to new security regulations, will now mean longer line-ups than ever (arrive three hours in advance? what if i have an early morning flight? the damn counters aren't even open before 5:30), less chance of having luggage space to carry on books, music and anything else that might make a long flight bearable (i guess i'm supposed to succumb to the dubious charms of the in-flight entertainment) and being felt up before entering the plane by someone who likely flunked out of the police academy.

i've spent most of the holidays hearing about the nigerian student who allegedly attempted to blow up a northwest airlines flight. i've heard all about his family relations. i've even been subjected to pictures of his underpants (i really hope those brown stains are burn marks, i really, really do). and as if days of hysteria and hyperbole weren't dispiriting enough, the last few shreds of tolerability have now been stripped away from air travel.

people better versed in terrorism than i are already insisting that none of these tactics work. and their logic makes sense: nothing creates a panic faster than leaders who seem to be panicking themselves. furthermore, not one of these restrictions actually addresses the serious security failures at issue in this particular incident- that the person responsible managed to get on board with items that were already contraband and that a young man whose name was on a terrorist watch list was granted a visa to the united states.

governments in north america have been trying to convince potential terrorists and their own citizens that they know how to handle these sorts of situations. they don't. and if they want to learn, they should start by listening to people who do have experience.

unfortunately, the sort of chest-beating and sabre-rattling that keeps some world leaders from looking into the reasons why violent fringe groups are able to recruit across a broad spectrum of nations and cultures also keeps them from admitting what they don't know and seeking the counsel of those who would be able to offer meaningful help.

i think i'll just stay home.

2 comments:

Martin Rouge said...

All of those magical measures have all but one aim: public relations. As other commentators have pointed out, the US have been beating their chests about not being subjected to terrorist attacks since 9-11, but seriously, terrorists have a fairly heavy competition due to the home grown wackjobs who shoot cops and coworkers for less than religious reasons on a semi-regular basis, without having to be put through any sort of ideological conditioning.

Putting up new, more invasive security theater in force has only one real target, and that's the viewing public. It looks like that the government is in charge and doing something... that the National Guards patrolling the airports post 9-11 couldn't actually stop suicide idiots once that place was in the air has no consequence; the traveling public en route to Disney could feel save that there were people that looked like they could stop bad guys like they did in the movies.

Using watchlists has stopped no one (except Cat Stevens) from flying, but it has gotten toddlers body searches by minimum wage subcontractors aplenty. Contraband keeps on passing through, jackasses keep on going on and about and all the virulent rhetorics keep on being spewed on AM radio.

The US have 14 spy agencies supposedly supposed to keep the nation safe; the only problem is that they are all in competition with each other, just like the various levels of police agencies, all gunning for the same targets, all vying to be the ones to brag at the news conference. All that the inquiries and other bureaucratic circus shows have demonstrated is that more agencies are needed to do the same amount of work, but that the rules for cooperation are still the same old territorial bullshit and pissing contests, equally pathetic to the agents on the ground as it is to their self-serving political masters.

I guess I felt like ranting a little there...

flora_mundi said...

rant all you want.

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