Here we go again. Failure of the multibillion-dollar TSA and CIA has allowed the actions of one man to put an entire nation into a tailspin, creating new regulations to "beef up National Security." Because a few sloppy employees at airport security counters didn't do their jobs, every person in the U.S. is treated -- more than ever -- as a potential terrorist. Somehow we are supposed to feel safer from them when government security efforts are targeted at us.
Nearly a decade ago, an event that happened in New York caused us to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, killing millions of innocent people and making a complete mess of the foreign and fiscal policies of three countries. And for the countless billions we have spent on defense and in the name of security, what have we accomplished? Try this exercise: Add up the actual cost of the damage done by the terrorists, and then add up the cost -- human and financial -- of our overreactions. Maybe this is why Osama bin Laden was such a happy camper on all those videotapes and why terrorist groups clamor to claim responsibility for the deeds of solo bogey-men. It only takes one person to make America jump and hover.
By failing to put a suspect on a No-Fly list, every frequent flier and pleasure traveler will be inconvenienced and told to sit in their seat the last hour of a flight. No computers, no blankets, no books. So, a criminal act can't occur on the first or second hour of a flight? Maybe the government minions who make these rules never fly commercial.
And speaking of commercial jets, has anyone noticed that the recent airplane acts of terrorism, such as the Shoe Bomber and now the Christmas Bomber, have been IN-BOUND events from flights overseas? But every American is a terror suspect when flying from Cleveland to Tulsa. We, the U.S. terrorists, will be subjected to more carry-on restrictions or more fees to check a bag. That goes along with perpetual confiscation of water bottles, skin moisturizers and toothpaste tubes larger than the magical "3-ounce rule."
Each year, over 600 million people travel by air in our country and more than 43,000 TSA security offers are responsible for careful surveillance of these citizen-suspects. Who creates TSA policies? Whoever they are, they probably sit in a room and laugh at how easy it is to get us to obey their orders. No jokes. No challenging their actions. They take "security measures" seriously and we are commanded to do the same. TSA officials and other government know-it-alls must snicker at how easily we are manipulated, cowering behind the adage, "better be safe than sorry", whether it is about flying or flu shots.
Along with the raucous debates over anti-terrorism measures, our civil liberties and personal choices have been chipped away week by week. Privileges are removed to ostensibly keep us free. We believe in the green pastures they label as "freedom" so much that few people seldom, if ever, bother to look up long enough from where they graze to notice that brightly colored tags have been stapled to their ears.
New business registrations with Webex and GoToMeeting to avoid travel should be at an all-time high. Keep road warriors home and travel dollars in the bank. Inconveniences to the airline's bread and butter -- business travelers -- have reached the intolerable level. I love to fly and have put up with the inane airport rules for the last seven years, logging more than 90,000 miles annually for business events and to attend or teach seminars. But this is just too much. The latest knee-jerk rules imposed by government in response to the stupid action of a jerk are over the top.
I'm weary of watching the swaggering guys and gals at airports who sport assault weapons and search dogs. I get concerned that these folks, who assume every American just might be an al Qaeda accomplice, may one day get overly cocky about their power. Sorry, Continental, it's not your fault, but maintaining my Platinum status this year may not be worth the TSA-imposed hassles.
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