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Airport Insecurity

June 28, 2010

Last week on a trip back home from Dallas, my family and I saw clearly just how useless US airport “security” measures are. I will give you three examples from this one flight of items that pass security (or are already on the plane) that can be used as weapons. My purpose in this is not to give would-be hijackers ideas – they already know about these things – but to draw attention to “a more excellent way” of dealing with this problem.

Like good airline travelers, we arrived at the Dallas airport with more than an hour to kill before our flight, so we chose a Tex-Mex restaurant inside airport security for lunch. Imagine my surprise when the utensils we were given included metals forks and plastic knives sharp enough to cut a steak – or a jugular vein.

The reason I was surprised is that not too far in the past plastic knives were banned in airport eateries for that very reason. They are sharp and they don’t show up on the x-ray machines. There were many times when I had to spread cream cheese on my bagel because plastic knives were forbidden.

Once we boarded I heard a crunching sound several times. After a while I realized what it was – the flight attendant was hammering away at cubes of ice that had frozen together while being transferred to the plane. Later I found the ice hammers sitting on a shelf next to the galley where anyone could pick them up – so, being a curious fellow, I did so.

They were made of blue plastic, and were surprisingly heavy. I thought, “I would not want to be whacked on the head with one of these bad boys.” Then I thought, “How thoughtful of the flight attendants to leave them out so conveniently for Abdul or Mohammed. They wouldn’t even have to bring their own weapons on board!

Finally, towards the end of the flight I got a little hungry. Since they don’t give you nuts any more, I bring my own when I fly. This time I had a small unopened can of Planters mixed nuts in my carryon (which went through screening with no problems). I mention that it was unopened because normally I would have taken off the plastic top and removed the inner metal lid with the pull ring prior to boarding the flight.

You can guess where I’m going with this. When you put your finger in the ring and pull the round metal lid off, it has a very sharp lid. I know, because I have cut my finger on them before. Needless to say, when I saw the metal lid was still intact, I left it there and stayed hungry. I didn’t want to be holding something that could be used as a weapon on a crowded flight.

The bottom line to all of this is that the way we go about airport screening in the US is not effective. We’re screening for potential weapons instead of potential terrorists. Instead of being proactive, we’re reactive.

A prime example is the inept shoe bomber. One guy puts an ineffective device in his shoe, and forever after millions of shoes must come off, wasting hundreds of thousands of hours. Of course, there has not been another shoe bomb attempt, and probably never will be. Some experts believe the whole thing could have been staged simply to tie up security resources and slow down airport security.

We put our faith in more and more machines, which are more and more expensive. Now they’re installing new machines that can see through your clothing. So the bad guys just shift tactics and do things like implanting explosives into their bodies.

I keep saying this, but we need to learn from the best – Israel. Nobody hijacks their planes. Nobody sets bombs off on their planes. Nobody messes with Israel. Why? Because they’re not afraid to do what the politically correct weenies who run our airport insecurity services are afraid to do. Israel profiles.

They don’t search grandmothers and little kids while thirty year old Arabs stroll onto the plane. They know the profile of the hijacker and they act accordingly. I talked to a US flight attendant who flew on El Al (the Israeli national airline) recently. Here’s what he told me:

“There were three lines. One for Israeli citizens. One for people from Arab and Islamic countries. And a third for everyone else. The people in the second line were examined and screened VERY thoroughly. It took a very long time. The Israelis were polite, but if anyone complained, they were told to fly another airline.”

Another thing that keeps Israel’s flights safe is that every one of their flights has armed air marshals aboard. In the US we are told that is too expensive. Then how does Israel afford it? And why has our Congress discouraged military-trained airline pilots from carrying hand guns, when that wouldn’t cost a penny? These pilots are our last line of defense in the case of a hijacking.

All the machines in the world won’t keep us safe until we get our heads out of the sand and admit one simple fact: We don’t have an airport security problem; we have an Islamic hatred of America problem. It wasn’t Hindus or Basque separatists or homosexual activists who took down four airliners filled with innocents and killed 3,000 Americans on 9-11. It was fanatical Muslims who did that, cheered on by their preachers. Until we come to grips with that, we’re sitting ducks. (Obama, I hope you’re listening.)

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Copyright ©2010 Tom Barrett

Dr. Tom Barrett is a pastor, teacher, author, conference keynote speaker, professor, certified executive coach, and marketplace minister. His teaching and coaching have blessed both church and business leaders. He has been ordained for over 40 years, and has pastored in seven churches over that time. Today he “pastors pastors” as he oversees ordained and licensed ministers in Florida for his ministerial fellowship.

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