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If National Security Matters, Don't Vote GOP

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For years, the American public has been bombarded with the following: the GOP is good for business and good for National Security. Perhaps, in the good old days of "I Like Ike" that might have been true.

But now?

Well, we already know the facts about the GOP's business skills under the Bush Administration. They seem to have fallen from their previous historic heights to their current location: better than a plague of locusts, but worse than the Sopranos.

What most people don't know is that they're just as bad with National Security.

President Bush (and now Senator McCain) like to tell us that we haven't been hit again domestically because of the GOP's great skill in this arena, but it isn't so. We haven't been hit because of the work of dedicated men and women, domestic and foreign, who have kept us safe in spite of the Bush Administration, not because of it.

Sure we have a classy looking set of new counterterrorism offices to show off to reporters that was designed by Hollywood. But if the data you are being forced to use, the conclusions you are forced to draw from the facts as they become available, the actions you are allowed to take in response to threats are all politicized, then National Security has been reduced to little more than a script to go with the set.

Example: On 6 December 2005, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) introduced a piece of critical legislation nicknamed the "Leave All Blades Behind Act." It was a law designed to force the Bush Administration to maintain regulations that kept small, sharp objects like those used to carry out 9/11 off airplanes.

Why was this bill necessary?

On 2 December 2005, The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) made a decision to alter post 9/11 security practices. This change in policy would allow airline passengers to carry previously banned "scissors with a cutting edge of four inches or less and tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches and pliers smaller than seven inches."

The TSA said that this would allow the "TSA to focus resources on more serious threats." According to the Associated Press (30 November 2005), "(o)fficials want screeners to focus more on finding things that can explode rather than things that are sharp." The AP further reports that a "TSA spokeswoman says the new initiatives will be positive for both security and customer service."

Sounds reasonable enough, doesn't it? Especially since it was the conclusion the public wanted to hear. Everyone was getting tired of long lines at airports, not to mention the hardship of being forced to leave valuables like scissors, small pocket knives, etc. behind before they boarded an airplane. (That this conclusion also facilitated the distribution of funds to friends of the administration to develop and distribute less than useful bomb detecting equipment is, of course, beside the point.)

But was the TSA's popular decision based on fact or fiction?

An examination of 1,251 hijackings from 1931 - 2004 involving 1,280 aircraft and more than 7,606 casualties revealed that sharp objects (including screwdrivers and scissors) were responsible for 77% of all aviation hijacking related casualties, not explosives.

In other words, either the TSA was lying and its decision to dumb down security was irresponsible to the point of being criminal or the TSA wasn't lying but the data they were using wasn't based on reality.

Well, the good news is that the TSA is not a criminal enterprise. Which brings us to the bad news. The TSA's decision was based on faulty data.

We all know about the falsification of data that led us into Iraq. What the public doesn't know is that this problem is systemic thanks to the Bush Administration. For the first time in American history, we are being asked to wage a war (wars, actually) using a body of data that has been intentionally altered by commercial intelligence du jour.

Which takes us back to the Bush-generated version of aviation terrorism reality.

In order to achieve the "correct" answer (the one the Bush Administration wanted), the commercial interests that were hired to replace those uncooperative liberals in the intelligence community omitted 75% of all aviation related terrorist events (Bush: 800+ total vs. pre-Bush US Gov: 3,283+ total). This omission includes 9/11. (9/11 is listed under the target headings "Business" and "Government", which takes it out of the statistical aviation mix, in effect, transforming it into a non-aviation related incident.)

Result: According to the Bush commercial data, explosives are more dangerous to aviation than small, sharp objects. That this conclusion could only be achieved by editing out hundreds of aviation related events that account for some 11,237+ aviation related casualties to date was clearly less important than making the Bush Administration happy. After all, in the commercial realm, you get what you pay for.

Which brings us back to the TSA: How could the TSA (or any other agency) produce an accurate risk assessment when the data they are being forced to use is the equivalent of 2+2 = Fish?

They can't. So much for National Security.

Needless to say, this example represents the tip of a very scary security iceberg.

Fake intelligence, like that Hollywood set, may make the GOP look like it's the party of National Security, but looks can be deceiving.

Think about that when you cast your vote on 4 November.