Dave Gallagher

Necessary Evil

More About: Transportation: Air Travel

Port and Airport in-Security

Weird Weird Weird! I am recovering from a bout of the flew and a bout of major political confusion.

(Warning ... Run-on sentence ahead !)

I had intended to rant about how a nice guy like me had to run all over Phoenix with my flu to find a package of Sudafed on a Sunday evening before finally resorting to the black market where the sleazy methlab guys are the only ones who can get their hands the stuff thanks to laws designed to prevent sleazy methlab guys from buying Sudafed.

But then I read a little blurb from Reuters that made me further evaluate the whole Dubai port deal and homeland security business. Therefore it is at great personal sacrifice that I forgo the story about how the fascists at nanny state central made my flu experience far worse than necessary so I can bring you timely, riveting political commentary.

The reports that some nasty, terrorist harboring, Arabs were going to take over control of US “port security” turned my puney little political world upside down. I didn't know what to make of it all.

Democrats joining hands with Republicans singing “Kumbaya ... down with Bush.” Even my Republican friends were uttering one or two negative statements about the almighty George Bush before lowering their heads in shame like a boy who just cursed in front of his mother for the first time.

It all just did not seem to compute. In this new paradigm I was terrified ... The “enemy” was becoming hard to identify. Up is down and left is right I thought.

As I sifted through the reports and talked with colleagues, I began to sense a herd mentality developing ... party lines may have been crossed, but it was there sure enough. This always gets my “Spidey Senses” tingling. So I prodded and poked and read and listened. Although it was refreshing to see these newly designed battle lines being drawn accross the airwaves in talk radio land, I became suspicious. Now that I have had time to digest all of this a few things are clear.

1.George Bush's fear based “War on Terror” and his irresponsible economic / foreign policy of indebted empire have created an isolationist mindset among the average person.

2.This mindset has been exploited by the administration to support the neoconservative foreign policy agenda of the last four years and now certain elements are using it to advance a policy of economic protectionism.

3.The administration itself does not believe the terror threats they trumpet so loudly. When this becomes apparent their supporters little brains get short circuited. Case in point: Border security and the port security issue. If all the fearful utterances of this administration are legitimate, how could they refuse to secure the southern border and consider having a UAE company run our ports? Haha! They can't. Which leads many to ponder a couple of scenarios such as a) there is not as big a threat as they make it out to be or b) they don't care.

4.The Republicans in congress, with a looming election, were more than happy to have an issue handed to them that would enable them to create apparent separation from their Republican President who is lugging a subterranean approval rating. Yep, the yellow bellied congressional majority ran from Bush like a lawyer from a quail hunt.

The answer to the security conundrum of course is simple. The constant threat of terrorist attack (although real) is not as great as the administration has made it out to be. They emphasized this threat to further a pre-existing agenda. Chances are you already knew that, but the little Sean Hanity, Bill Oreily worshipers that insist on calling themselves my friends did not want to believe this.

For my part, I have been on the fence regarding the port deal. In general I believe the Federal government has no business telling a company who they can or cannot sell their business to. In this case however a legitimate possible case for port security (a correct function of the federal government) can be made. Also the States where the ports are located should have their say in the matter (states rights - a novel concept, I know).

The administration attempted to end run the states and congress. Congress and the states have rightfully stepped in and forced review. At this point it seems to me that the whole thing than became over politicized. This is an issue of security versus healthy economic cooperation. Though a state owned foreign company running ports raises some concerns, it is nothing new. Many foreign companies make capital investments in the US just as Americans invest abroad. This should not be prevented if it does not have to be.

As for the security issue however, we are led to believe that port security, to be proper, must be controlled entirely by Americans and perhaps the US government. Since 9-11 in fact we are consistently told to sit back and let the federal government spend us into security. The best example of course is the Transportation Security Agency. With an annual budget of billions and billions of freshly printed dollars, the TSA pokes, prods and fondles old ladies and little kids in airports across the country presumably keeping us safe from terrorists. We have surrendered a little privacy and a whole lot of convenience in exchange for the comfort of knowing that we will be kept safe when traveling on commercial airplanes from terrorists who might try to bring a bomb on the plane.

However, Reuters informs us today that we are naive, gullible little sheeple. In fact the only reason a terrorist has not taken a bomb on a plane in the last 4 years is apparently because they haven't felt like it. Here, read for yourself:

Security screener at 21 U.S. airports failed to find bomb-making materials during recent government tests, NBC Nightly News reported on Thursday.

Federal agents carrying materials that could be used to make bombs escaped detection in airport screening during tests conducted between October and January, NBC said, citing government sources.

"In all 21 airports tested, no machine, no swab, no screener anywhere stopped the bomb materials from getting through. Even when investigators deliberately triggered extra screening of bags, no one stopped these materials," the report said.

21 Airports and 21 misses. That means 100% success for the would be terrorists getting past TSA screeners with bombs. BOMBS! ... In airports! ... with nobody finding them. Not once, not twice, not 10 times ... 21 times !

Now, I will not be so snide as to suggest that we might be safer if a Dubai company were to take over airport security (although I have heard nothing but rave reviews of service and security from people who have flown to and from Dubai), but to bring this back to the real underlying issue (as always) ... Doesn't all this give you the idea that our big, stupid, irresponsible government is once again ruining our money, our country and undermining our freedom even when we think they are protecting us by spending billions an billions of our tax dollars that they don't actually have to spend?

Congress must de-politicize the Dubai Ports deal and look at whether or not there are legitimate security concerns. If there are no insurmountable security risks this must be honestly and carefully communicated to the American people.

Americans must demand simpler common sense solutions to security concerns. This need to invent multi-billion dollar government agencies of incompetence, which force ineffective regulation on entire industries in the name of security, while disempowering private security initiatives, must be re-evaluated.

Barry Hess (The next Governor of Arizona) had a simple idea. It may seem a little silly to some, but check it out. Or consider Ron Paul's legislation that would have simply allowed airlines to arm their pilots and made the airlines responsible for their own security. There is a wealth of ingenuity in the private sector that can deal with security concerns. They may not all be perfect, but it is hard to imagine they will do any worse than what we get from the central planners and government commissions no matter how well intentioned they may be.

Protectionism and Centrally planned bureaucracy are not the answer to America's perceived terrorist threats. Friendly relations and commerce with other nations, entangling alliance with none, decentralized problem solving at the lowest levels of government or better yet by the private sector. Business and individuals that take responsibility for their own security. A federal government operating under the rule of law limited in scope by the constitution. These are our greatest assurances of reasonable levels of security and prosperity.

It's called freedom... perhaps we will give it a try again.

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