A Nation Terrified by Terrorists

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Booga, Booga! One step closer and I light my crotch on fire!

Booga, Booga! One step closer and I light my crotch on fire!

Update The Odds of a Terrorist Attack: 1-in-16,553,385 Departures. In other words, it ain’t very damn likely.

It’s been more than 24 hours since an incompetent terrorist set his crotch ablaze aboard a Detroit-bound airplane and few have yet suggested this is Obama’s fault. Quite remarkable. Frankly, I expected the Orly Taitzters would be all atwitter with accusations that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was the secret love child of Barack Obama and Bill Ayers, conceived at the local ACORN office.


A quick virtual walkabout through the major news sites, finds the usual calls for investigations (as well there should be) and experts evenly divided between those who believe everyone should be bolted to their seats and those who believe there’s little you can realistically do to combat this type of terrorism.

During the Reign of Chimpy the Magnificent, supporters were keen to point out that he’d spread his all-powerful wings of duct tape and plastic across the globe and no terrorist dared set foot into daylight – the rough equivalent of crediting him with protecting you from lightening strikes – as nearly an unlikely event.

However, here’s a little secret – George Bush was mostly just unlucky to be the guy left holding the bag when the deranged videographer from Tora Bora demolished the World Trade Center. Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong guy.

Of course, he was masterful at capitalizing on that bad luck. He used it to scare the bejeebus out of the nation and turn America into a place that looks a whole lot more like the nations he bragged of vanquishing. Knock-kneed Americans dutifully lined up and told him, “Here! Take anything you want! Puhleeze! Do anything you can to keep me safe on my once-a-decade airline flight! I’m askeered!”

Goodbye Bill of Rights, hello hopping on one foot as you struggle to get your shoes off at the security gate.

Despite the multi-billion dollar databases, despite the huge domestic and international intelligence apparatus, despite trillions spent on daily-double wars, terrorists will slip through. They will slip through if you removed every stitch of clothing, flew in the nude, and banned all luggage. Loons will be loons, but they’re smart and resourceful and they’re invisible needles in a worldwide haystack.

The only practical response to terrorists is to refuse to be terrorized – something a number of today’s polls suggest fear-crazed Americans are afraid to do. Hefty majorities cry for still more security. Many admit  they’ll let the government do anything they want so long as it gives them the illusion of security.

Americans need to wake up to a fact the rest of the world learned 25 years ago. No matter what you do, nitwits wintering over in Pakistani caves have lots of time to figure out how to attack someone and even if they aren’t successful, or just resort to sending a poorly edited videotape of thinly veiled threats, they still scare people. You can’t do a helluva lot about that.

There’s nothing wrong with reasonable precautions. Though people initially resisted them, metal detectors stopped Havana from being a popular destination for vacationing terrorists. It was a good deal.

Removing shoes at check-in? Not so much.

For proof, our newest would-be bomber apparently set off a bomblet made from similar materials security was supposed to guard against. And, he easily defeated the Anti-Maxwell Smart Hide-a-Shoe ® security precautions. He just kept his Hush Puppies on and jumped straight into an embarrassingly crotch-immolating fire.

The TSA requiring passengers remain seated for the last hour of a flight does promote safety, but only because people shouldn’t be wandering around the cabin anyway. Umar had about 9 hours to wander around before he set himself on fire, and he apparently did it while seated anyway. I’m all for banning luggage the size of console color TVs from the overhead bins though. Those are a clear and present danger.

There was a time when America fancied itself free and strong and proud – not to be confused with kicking the shit out of Third-World countries, abrogating the Constitution, and smirking about our High Noon moment on the range. As a nation, we didn’t suffer fools gladly. We hunted them down and vanquished them under fair and legal proceedings. Today you’ll find us under the far-corner of the bed shaking the thing like a berserk Magic Fingers and whining about not bringing terrorists into the country because, well, just because, that’s why!

America, for chrissakes, GROW A PAIR!  This numbskull already got a pretty karmic punishment, he melted his dick. Put him on trial and call it a day.

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6 thoughts on “A Nation Terrified by Terrorists

  1. Bystander, perhaps it doesn’t have to all be done consistently. After all, the terrorists aren’t trying to bring in a really sharp knife. They are eschewing sharp bladed objects since 9/11 for ever more esoteric devices, substances and methods. It occurs to me that, had you been trying to slip the knife past the security guards, not only would you have had your knife confiscated but you’d have been hauled off for a much more unpleasant and invasive procedure known as the strip search, coupled with things like scanning for bomb residue and every other known procedure for stopping terrorists from boarding a plane. The reason is simple: had you been trying to slip the knife past security, you would have behaved in a way that the security people would have interpreted as suspicious. On the other hand, a terrorist sneaking something that is not detectable by a metal scanner and located in an area that is probably not routinely patted down, can proceed reasonably confident that if he just keeps his cool, he won’t be found out. That’s not an assumption that someone trying to bring a sharp knife through a metal scanner can make.

    The point I’m making is that, even when it get’s publicized that planned attempts to see whether fake bombs and such can be slipped through security very often succeed, actual terrorists go out of their way to avoid repeating past failures and go with what seem to be devices, substances and methods deliberately avoid the TSA’s known detection protocols. That is, even when not consistently applied, those protocols force the terrorists to go with what is new and hence, almost by definition, less likely to succeed than if they just kept trying the same thing over and over until one of them gets it right.

  2. On a flight from London to New York I was going through the metal detector and was asked to remove any metal items as per usual. When I emptied my pockets into the plastic tub I realized I still had my pocket knife, and was a little annoyed because I would probably have to leave it behind. It’s one of those Zippo knives, I’ve had it for twelve years and it’s still razor sharp and capable of removing someones head with if one had the time and was determined enough, so the thought of losing it was slightly upsetting.

    As I exited the other side of the detector frame and got my shoes back, they slid the tray across to me and waved me on. Surprisingly, my precious blade was still sitting there amongst the loose change! I pocketed my belongings and moved on without a word. Imagine that. People were getting hassled for bringing a bottle of shampoo in their carry on luggage and I had just passed through a metal detector armed and nobody said anything.

    The truth is nothing has really changed in airport security except it has become more inconvenient for the customer. They can add procedure on top of procedure and it won’t make a difference. You still have to count on the front line employees (who are usually the lowest paid, I might add) to carry out those procedures efficiently and accurately. You still have to count on the powers that be to take responsibility for events and to be held accountable for their actions. You still have to run under a business model that makes enough money to stay ahead of the people trying to poke holes in your system and not squander the funds on yearly bonuses and the like.

    None of these things are going to consistently happen.

  3. The precautions you listed mostly fall into the category of reasonable and prudent for me. And yes, the system did break. However, I’m not sure that trying to catch these guys via intelligence is very reliable. With vast (raft) of amount of information coming in, it’s damn near impossible to evaluate it all…even the stuff coming from worried fathers.

    In the end, it’s pretty damned hard to stop a determined person, doors or no doors, intelligence or no intelligence, removing your shoes or not. It’s a sad commentary on the world.

  4. Well, a day later, the story has changed. The system did not work. On a side note, I always liked the word raft, as in “The Visa breakdown is one of a raft of potential red flags that were somehow missed…” I imagine that a bit more investigation will determine how many missed red flags fit on this particular raft.

  5. Frankly, I don’t think that this failed attack is any more Obama’s fault than I think 9/11 was Bush’s fault. Obama is largely stuck with a system designed by Congress and implemented by Bush. What this latest incident shows is that there are still people, whether individuals or groups of people, who are out to commit terrorist attacks.

    I do think that this latest attack does show that parts of what we are doing are helping.

    – Terrorists can no longer enter the cock-pit and commandeer planes so that another 9/11 can not happen.

    – Terrorists do not seem to be able to blow up one of our passenger planes from the inside, presumably because our scanning procedures prevent them from bringing reliable explosives into a plane, forcing them to try using unreliable explosives which require the terrorists to engage in activities that alert passengers might see and, by responding, foil the attackers.

    On the other hand, terrorists can still get on planes even, it seems, when we have plenty of information that would lead a reasonably cautious/suspicious person to conclude that there is no way in hell this person should ever be allowed upon a plane bound for our shores and do so with a credible substance/device that could bring down a plane and did cause panic/confusion among the passengers and crew.

    But not Obama’s fault. As I say, there may be no way of preventing an attack such as this every time. Vigilance will always be required.

  6. I guess it all depends upon what precautions one considers to be reasonable. Richard Reed (sp?) tries to blow up a passenger plane with explosives hid in his shoe. Is it really unreasonable to inspect the shoes of future fliers or should we simply assume that, with the failure of the first shoe bomb, the enemy will abandon shoe bombs? He used a lighter to try to light the shoe bomb. Is it really unreasonable to disallow lighters, matches, etc. or do we assume that the enemy will take to lighting their future bombs with flintrocks? After all, since smoking is no longer allowed on flights, for what does anyone legitimately need one on board? Someone tried to blow up a plane with mixed liquid chemicals. Was it unreasonable to disallow all but very small containers of liquids to be carried in clear plastic containers, or do we just trust the enemy to give up trying because the liquid mixture is hard to mix? This guy tried some sort of device sewed into his underwear. I guess I’ll draw the line at taking off my underwear at the security check-point. When that measure gets put in place, I’ll stay home rather than fly.

    As for fearing terrorists, it was never about fear for me. It was about expecting our government to protect us from all enemies, at home and abroad. While this is not the only reason that our founders established a central government but it was one major reason. I’m not afraid that I or one of my loved ones will fall victim to a terrorist attack and if, by chance, I or they do, I understand that no government can protect 100% of the people 100% of the time. It all comes back to my first point: what steps are reasonable in the to thwart a known threat from unknown persons and groups who intend to kill as many Americans as they can and who intend to maximize terror among Americans.

    On a separate note, this guy was known to us as a Muslim extremist with possible terrorist ties but he was not on a no-fly list; he successfully boarded the plane with an incendiary substance on him. He successfully mixed the substance and, only due to a failure of detonation and the quick thinking of civilian passengers on the plane, said substance failed to do much more than burn him and the passenger who jumped him and yet, unbelievably, Janet Napolitano, of our DHS, declared that the fact that the plane landed safely and the would be suicide bomber was successfully detained and arrested proved that the system worked.

    If this was her own brainstorm, she’s a moron who should be fired immediately, if for no other reason, for being a moron. If this is the administration’s official spin on a nearly successful terrorist attack that might have killed hundreds, then God help us, we’ve elected a moron. I don’t know whether any measures could have prevented an attack like this but I do know one thing: the system absolutely did not work. It was only by the incompetence of the terrorists and quick action by somebody who was not the flight marshal that saved the passengers and crew of that flight. The system had little to do with it.

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