Click here to listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM & FM, Friday, Nov. 19, 2010.
The holiday season is upon us and that conjures memories of the recent past and a less than pleasant look at the dysfunctional present as it pertains to airline travel.
You might recall that last Christmas, a then 23-year old Nigerian national by the name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried without success to detonate a bomb that was sewn into his pants while approaching Detroit, Michigan aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam. The bomb did not detonate and Abdulmutallab was subdued and restrained by passengers and crew members.
On the day after the incident, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement regarding the role of U.S. aviation security that the system had “worked.” She later was forced to backtrack on this assertion as the multiple breakdowns in the system her department oversees started coming to light.
In fact, the system most assuredly did not work. It didn’t even come close. Abdulmutallab was practically wearing a sign saying, “I’m a radicalized Muslim bent on committing mass murder against Americans” as he boarded the plane. On November 19, Abdulmutallab’s father made a report to CIA officers in Nigeria expressing concern about his son’s “extreme religious views.”
Intelligence officials in the UK reported to U.S. intelligence services that Abdulmutallab had ties to Anwar al Awlaki, previously a U.S. imam with ties to three of the 9/11 hijackers, the London subway bombings and the shooter at Ft. Hood.
As if this were not enough, U.S. intelligence officials were aware of Internet postings by Abdulmutallab saying things such as, “dying by jihad is one of the surest paths to paradise.”
Still, a bumbling Homeland Security and U.S. intelligence bureaucracy could not manage to get Abdulmutallab’s name on the “no fly” list (the same list upon which U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy’s name appeared multiple times).
It was Abdulmutallab’s incompetence at detonating the bomb that he was wearing, and his incompetence alone, that averted a tragedy aboard a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
So let’s review. In Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s world, your own father ratting you out wont’ keep you off a U.S. bound airliner. Information tying you to a known and wanted terrorist won’t do the trick either. In Janet Napolitano’s world, a 23-year old Nigerian Muslim with terrorist ties and internet musings about jihad can still fly.
But not you.
For you to fly, you must suffer a full body x-ray that reveals an image of your naked body. Or if you don’t like that, you may “opt out” and instead be subjected to a “pat down”, consisting of a TSA employee touching your breasts if you’re a woman and your genitalia no matter who you are.
Janet Napolitano can’t act on clear intelligence about a young, angry foreign national bent on jihad either out of monumental incompetence or for fear of offending the sensibilities of Muslims. But if you and your wife and your children want to fly to grandma’s for the holidays, she gets to reach down the front of your pants.
If you fly this holiday season and are subjected to the latest pointless indignities and assaults on your freedom, you must remember one thing. It’s your government and thus your responsibility.
When it becomes destructive to your liberty and to your safety, only you can hold it accountable.
If the Homeland Security secretary gropes your wife, you’re the one letting it happen.