“Notional” Security – by Thomas Sowell


Obama 2008

The latest “screw-up” that let a man with explosives get on a plan on Christmas day is only part of a larger laxness and irresponsibility when it comes to national security. This administration pays lip service to national security and gives out with a lot of rhetorical notions that makes it notional security instead of national security.

The Muslim major who was arrested for the murders of American soldiers at Fort Hood had left so many clues to his hatred of this country that all you had to do was count the dots, without even connecting them, to see where he was coming from. But for a fellow officer to alert higher authorities to the danger would have meant risking damage to his own career moreso than to that of Major Nidal Hasan.

That is because we have become so obsessed with political correctness that both common sense and self-preservation have to take a back seat. We don’t dare “profile” anybody going through security checks because that’s not politically correct. Far better to be blown to smithereens than to be politically incorrect.

Probably the country with the strongest security checks for airline passengers— and the strongest reason for such checks— is Israel. Israel profiles. I have been to Israel more than once and it is clear that they profile.

Fortunately, my wife and I obviously don’t fit their profile, whatever that may be. Others who have been to Israel are amazed when I tell them that we have gone through Israeli security four times and they have never opened our luggage.

That is all the more surprising, since we take a lot of luggage. We have stopped in Israel while on trips completely around the world, including countries both above and below the equator, so we had to have clothing for hot weather and cold weather, since the seasons are the opposite in the northern and southern hemispheres. Moreover, I carry a lot of photographic equipment in a large, separate piece of luggage.

In short, our luggage could carry enough explosives to blow up any building in the country.

But, whatever their security system and whatever their profile, they didn’t seem to want to waste any time on us.

The last time we flew into Israel was from Cairo, where the Israeli security officials at the Cairo airport detained the lady in line in front of us for 45 minutes, opened her luggage, spread the contents across the counter, and asked her all sorts of questions. When they had finally finished with her and my wife and I stepped up to the counter, the official in charge waved us on impatiently, saying, “Hurry up, you’ll miss the plane.”

This was no special treatment for us. They had no idea who we were. We were just not the kind of people they spent time on, for whatever reason.

Recently, an Israeli security official was interviewed on Fox News Channel by Mike Huckabee. The official said that he has testified before Congress and offered to help with suggestions on how the American airport security system could be improved— and he clearly thought it needed a lot of improvement.

Apparently the only response he got from American security officials was a polite letter. “They didn’t tell me to go to Hell,” he said. “They were polite.”

There is no stronger indication of danger than officials who don’t want to hear what anybody else has to say, even when those who offer to help have a system that works better than ours.

The fundamental issue goes beyond the Fort Hood massacre or the Christmas bomber. These are just symptoms of a larger set of attitudes and expediences reflecting the same outlook.

Putting terrorists on trial in American criminal courts, under rules designed for American citizens, tells you all you need to know about whether the Obama administration is serious about security or is still playing the political correctness game.

Terrorists are not covered by the Geneva convention for the simple reason that they do not abide by the Geneva convention. They are enemy combatants and you do not turn enemy combatants loose to go back to killing Americans while the war is still on— not if you are being serious, as distinguished from being political or ideological.

  • davarino

    Oh but we are not going to let the terrorists dictate our rules, or how we live. How noble of the president. Thats easy for him to say when he doesnt have to fly commercial like all the rest of us.

    Thanks prez for being so PC with our lives. I dont give a damn about PC or civil liberties in this instance as long as I get to my destination alive.

  • kafir4life

    I've had the impression that president barry would see an American city obliterated rather than hurt muslim "sensibilities" as fatty abe hooper complains. President barry is an abomination, and must be removed in 2012. Let's use 2010 to extract some of his teeth.

  • http://trevordrown.ning.com Joe Oliver

    Had Enough?

    We need men like Green Beret Trevor Drown in Washington. As our nation started, Grass roots, so must it return to, else, as Rome fell, we will perish .

    http://trevordrown.ning.com "Dare To Make A Difference"

  • http://trevordrown.ning.com Joe Oliver

    ps: I hope Tom S and front page at least interview this young man. Trevor is a Green Beret and Vet of Afghanistan.

  • USMCSniper

    The ACLU's real agenda according is to have a multi-million-dollar progaganda campaign to get Khalid Sheik Mohammed off the hook. In their own words:

    The ACLU explains: “The ACLU chose to focus on Mohammed’s defense,” Romero said, because he appears to be “the government’s top priority in the prosecution. And whether or not they are able to convict Khalid Sheik Mohammed under these rules may well determine the fate of the almost 300 other men who are detained at Guantanamo.”

    So that’s it. The ACLU wants to set Khalid Sheik Mohammed and 300 other terrorists free or at least make it impossible for the tribunals to serve their function. Because KSM is the worst of the worst, because he is the terrorist in custody most responsible for 9/11, the ACLU is his champion.

  • APB

    As usual, Dr. Sowell is right on the money. Political correctness will be our undoing unless we stop the nonsense and adopt the procedures used by the Israelis. If you noticed, there haven't been any murder bombers in Israel schools, shopping centers, hospitals, restaurants etc. for many years and no Israeli airline highjacking for many years, if ever. The reason: the Israelis profile and forget about political correctness.

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  • Tim

    As, so far always, Thomas you are one of the only Journalists, writer, or whatever you prefer to call yourself, that makes sense, no matter the background, which just proves that Americans do not all fit into the idiot category.

    Thank you for the article, and Israel gets it right because common sense is more in play in that country, with the exception of the attitude on sexual matters, but not everyone can be 100% from what I see.

    Brainwashing has been taking place in America and many people seem to be under the influence, which is why the insanity of Political Correctness is in play, although it feels as if many people are beginning to get some sense in trying to irradicate the insanity.

    Please keep up your good works, as more than myself enjoys it.

  • Barry Cooper

    I really, truly believe that when burrow deep, deep down into the psychopathology that is Leftism, what you find, in effect, is a desire to set the world on fire and watch it burn. There are many, many protective psychological demarcations that protect both the public at large and the Leftists themselves from a clear perception of this fact, but that is my belief, which I will argue at length–have argued at length already elsewhere–when I get my website up.

    With respect to this issue, the task at hand–if we assess it rationally–is to develop a means by which, in theory, we stop EVERY possible bomber, and do not stop ANY non-possible bombers. This is, in essence, a problem of signal detection.

    Justice, if we apply it to this situation, is both always stopping those who present a potential threat, AND, not stopping ANYONE who is not a threat. Logically, failure consists both in not stopping potential bombers, and also in stopping people who are not a threat, like 7 year old Catholic girls travelling with their families.

  • Barry Cooper

    The situation is analogous to that of Leftist constructions of the criminal justice. They view justice as never convicting the innocent. This is only half right. The other half is ALWAYS convicting the guilty. This, however, creates problems for them. Far easier to never risk convicting an innocent person, than to allow guilty people to go free.

    In Signal Theory, there is the problem of noise. You have, in any given transmission, both random sound, and actual Signals. The only way to make sure you never lose any of the signal is to let all of both the noise and the Signal through. Conversely, the only way to make sure no noise gets through, is to block the signal completely.

    Now, the only way to make sure no bombs get through is to let no one fly. The only way we make sure no one gets inconvenienced is to let everyone through unmolested. Between the two is the intelligent use of information.

    We know how to send signals around the world, accurately. TCP/IP, the Internet Protocol, is famously resilient. We also know how to stop plane bombers. The Israelis have simultaneously the greatest threat, and the lowest historical rate of people penetrating their defenses.

  • Barry Cooper

    Step one is to recognize that the bomber will be Muslim. That is step one. Rather than recognize this simple fact, leftists prefer to inconvenience EVERYONE. No matter what happens, people will get inconvenienced. The question is, do we inconvenience the completely and obviously innocent, or the potentially guilty only?

    And I wonder what effect generalilzed profiling of Muslims would have on their intra-community discourse. Would this cause the moderates–I am one of those who still chooses to believe moderation is possible, since it has been displayed in the past–to get angry with all the trouble their radical fellow Muslims are causing them?

    We live in la-la land. Someday, one hopes it will end, and the reign of reason will–perhaps for the first time ever–usher in a better time.

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