Saturday, January 9, 2010

More on Airport Security

I have already expressed my thoughts (here ) on what we should do about threat against airlines in the wake of the Christmas attack on the aircraft landing in Detroit. In sum, I suggested we should dial back security for the reasons stated.

Today's Wall Street Journal has two articles on the topic of terrorism.  I agree with the gist of them both.  The first is here (subscription may be required). It states, and I agree,

It's a remarkable fact that a nation founded, fought for, built by, and transformed through the extraordinary courage of figures such as George Washington, Susan B. Anthony and Martin Luther King Jr. now often seems reduced to a pitiful whimpering giant by a handful of mostly incompetent criminals, whose main weapons consist of scary-sounding Web sites and shoe- and underwear-concealed bombs that fail to detonate.
Terrorball, in short, is made possible by a loss of the sense that cowardice is among the most disgusting and shameful of vices. I shudder to think what Washington, who as commander in chief of the Continental Army intentionally exposed himself to enemy fire to rally his poorly armed and badly outnumbered troops, would think of the spectacle of millions of Americans not merely tolerating but actually demanding that their government subject them to various indignities, in the false hope that the rituals of what has been called "security theater" will reduce the already infinitesimal risks we face from terrorism.

The second article discusses the statistical threat of terrorism. He makes an interesting comparison:

The chance of a Westerner being killed by a terrorist is exceedingly low: about a one in three million each year, or the same chance an American will be killed by a tornado. (The Department of Homeland Security's budget is 50 times larger than that of the weather service).

It is time to rethink and rescale (down) airport security along the lines of my original article.

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