Monday, August 14, 2006

Security suggestions

An open letter to the people in charge of transportation and homeland security.

I think you guys are a bunch of reactive idiots, and the traveling public is just as bad for accepting the junk you put us through. I do not feel any safer when flying, and due to your most recent restrictions I doubt if I will be flying very much at all. I know that I’ll have to take planes to go overseas, but will not be taking many cross country vacations and will be driving to our west coast destinations.

From what I’ve read about the 9-11 hijackers, they evidently went through all the airport security and checks with no problems. I don’t remember seeing anything specific on how their weapons got on the planes (anybody?) but did read suppositions that the cleaning crews of the planes might have left some things onboard. Was anything else published about this? So all of your long lines and taking off of shoes and wiping bags and refusing water bottles and makeup (come on, get real) do not appear to have any affect other than increasing the lines and making stupid people feel safer and really pissing off some of us that feel all of this stuff is useless. But I feel so much better about finally getting to carry on my nail clippers, but I worry that now somebody will figure out how to hijack a plane using their nail clippers. Such a potential weapon.

Will we be moving to the British level – no Ipods for listening to on trips, no DVD players or electronic games to keep kids (and adults) entertained, no food to make up for what the airlines don’t serve (drinks already banned), no books to read (you might hide something, and the pages burn)? You can bring on the sleeping pills to knock you out since there will be nothing else to do.

I am not appeased by having armed National Guard troops wandering through the airports. As far as I know there have been no shootings or physical altercations in an airport with potential hijackers that would be enhanced by having military troops present. I know they are doing well in Iraq, but most of these guys are my neighbors and I do not feel comfortable with those guys having weapons with real bullets. Think Barney Fife here. (OK, I know most are competent individuals, but hey, don’t you have any worries?) Yes, I have been in airports and overheard people saying that they feel so much safer with the Guard troops armed and in uniform. Come on.

I’ve got an idea on how to enhance the security feeling of the flying experience – why not ban all luggage, checked and carry on. And instead of just making people take off their shoes why not have everybody just strip and go through security naked. Then the metal detectors will not have false positive readings (unless people have too many fillings in their teeth or metal plates in their heads) and you will not have to put carry ons through the scanners. After people pass through checkpoints you can either make them fly naked and issue towels to sit on or give out those cheap paper jumpsuits. I guess you will also need paper diapers for the babies that were stripped (of course every traveler will get naked) and some cleaning supplies for the kids that don’t wait for the new diapers. If people require canes or crutches or wheelchairs just don’t let them fly. Instead of security personnel pawing through bags they could shift to (most are already wearing latex gloves) cavity searches. Of course everyone would be subject to those as well, not many hiding places would be left. And the thought of that might make more people apply for the job. (think Jessica Simpson and Brad Pitt being searched, not those (us) old hairy guys)

I was riding with somebody last week, and he had on the radio a talk show that I don’t usually listen to. The ‘radio personality’ was yelling at people that were complaining about the carry on restrictions. He obviously felt it more important to give up our rights in the name of safety than to defend individuals. If that is the majority opinion, then perhaps it might be time to move on to some of the concepts that Nazi Germany introduced back in the 30’s and 40’s: armed military on street corners and walking the streets, stopping everybody and demanding identification papers. “May I see your papers please – papers?” Hey – this would also start catching those illegal aliens too.

We already have checkpoints on some freeways – most trucks have to stop for inspection. Driving to California there is an agricultural checkpoint (which has been closed my past few trips) and when driving east over Hoover Dam inspectors stop cars. Right now they only look at a few, but in the name of safety perhaps they could just look at every car. Give them drug sniffing dogs and they might also catch other criminals as well. Better computer software and face recognition programs would let them get known criminals, and even stop kidnappings. Putting inspection stations on every freeway ever few miles would boost employment by opening many job opportunities and make us all safer, as well as cutting down on speeders since all driving will be stop and go. If you space these things right the entrance line for one checkpoint might start right past the previous one, not giving people time to speed up. Of course it would delay things, but hey, if people don’t mind standing in line for three hours to get through airport security why should they mind an additional three hour delay on the way to and from work for a vehicle inspection if it makes us all safer? And we could raise money – you could also make these toll stops, and have people throw a buck or two into a basket before being searched. And if they are made to use credit cards then we could also catch identity thieves and do full credit checks too.

We could also expand our use of the National Guard and have them wander the streets performing random house checks. They could just break down any door (don’t want to give people a chance to hide things by knocking) and search houses randomly. After all, we don’t know who might be building bombs in their basement. And it might catch those druggies that grow pot or have meth labs as well. We could expand things learned at Abu Grabe prison as well – when searching houses they could randomly torture people and see if they can find any other dangerous situations.

And in the paper today, the White House will use this recent threat as justification to permit them to do all that wire tapping and recording and phone analysis and capture of bank records and torture in Guantanamo (oh, sorry, it's not torture if we get to define the word) and even get congress to say it's OK to ignore the Geneva Convention, throwing aside over fifty years of support. So what will our reaction be if some country starts arresting our soldiers and putting them on trial, because the Geneva Covention no longer applies? Another invasion?

So, should I send these suggestions directly to Mr. Chaney? Might be some things he has already thought of and be just waiting to implement.

Please feel free to talk among yourselves below.

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