January 3, 2010

HOW NOT TO REDUCE TERROR: Retired Air Force General Suggests Strip Searching All Young Muslim Men. Good grief.

UPDATE: Actual Plan: New TSA security measures target 13 Muslim countries — plus Cuba. “They can’t profile based on religion directly so they’re going to do it by proxy, with the circle of ‘countries of interest’ kept as small as possible to minimize the political heat.” No general strip-searches, though. Not so sure I approve of this. You want to catch as high a percentage of terrorists as you can, but you also want to avoid irritating too many people — who might become terrorists if they’re irritated, or, more likely, help finger terrorists if they’re not too irritated — which is clearly wrong where the strip-search proposal is concerned. Here, not as clear as that, but . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Sterling is rather critical:

What, are [you] tired of your job and looking to write speeches for the Pres? People might become terrorists because their country is targeted? Perhaps they might be irritated, but I suspect most of them would eventually recognize where that irritation should be directed, especially if we are careful to point that out. I suspect they might become more willing to “finger” terrorists when they realize Uncle Sam is finally getting pissed enough to protect himself. What was it Osama once said, something about the strong horse and the weak horse? Clearly, being “nice” hasn’t worked out real well.

That’s me — angling for an Obama speechwriter job! (He’d be better off hiring me as a photographer . . .)

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stu Gittleman writes:

I think this policy is missing the point. Let’s skip the fact, for the moment, that the list leaves off Egypt, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and possibly other similar places – all of which have a history of producing a significant number of Islamic radicals. The bottom line is that it’s still a shotgun approach to the problem and it’s still trying to find weapons, not terrorists. While I’m not opposed to making life more inconvenient for co-nationals of would-be terrorists (we did that in Iraq and it turned out OK), I am opposed to pretending a fix doesn’t involve the radicalized western Muslims who seem just as eager to step up and kill us.

Think of some of TSA’s most recent “fixes:” We take our shoes off because of Richard Reid, who was traveling on a British passport. And so would just about all of the Liquid Bomb plotters, which is why we put all our toiletries in a bag and end up being forced to pay $4 for a Coke once we hit the airside of the terminal.

We’re still playing defense; we’re still countering the last threat, and we’re still obscenely plodding along with the same politically correct mindset that’s already proven deadly. Color me skeptical.

Dude, you’re totally going to cost me that cushy speechwriting job. I agree that air security is — as it was under the Bush Administration — a joke.

MORE: Mike Sterling writes back:

I actually agree with you that airport security is and has been a joke, and I am under no illusion that targeting certain countries is going to solve the problem. Our approach, as Stu said, is still too politically correct. However, I am pleased that apparently somebody somewhere is wiling to dispense with at least some of that PC mentality and recognize that the problem isn’t my grandma. In baby steps there is, perhaps, hope.

And, uh, the speechwriting crack was totally sarcastic. I know you have thick skin, but the reason I was stunned is because I generally agree with you on most things. I just think that worrying that someone might become a terrorist because of this is so pathetically “progressive”.

Well, I don’t think that being treated badly by TSA will produce terrorists directly — if it did, half of America would be strapping on bombs by now. But one thing that Bush did and Obama is doing is to distinguish between the small minority of Muslims who are inclined to terrorism and the vast majority, because we’d rather our enemies be isolated. The “strip search ‘em all” approach doesn’t do that; quite the reverse.

EVEN MORE: Now Bill Quick says I’m wrong. That’s okay. I can take it! As Gomez Addams says: “My shoulders are broad enough to carry the load — at least, as long as I’m wearing this suit!” But on a percentage basis, it’s nothing like ten percent, or even one percent. It’s probably more like a thousandth of a percent. Doesn’t that make a difference?