Monday, January 04, 2010

The Joke’s on Us

The Pantybomber wasn’t the big joke. We are.
By Mark Steyn
article.nationalreview.com
On Christmas Day, a gentleman from Nigeria succeeded (effortlessly) in boarding a flight to Detroit with a bomb in his underwear. Pretty funny, huh?But the Pantybomber wasn’t the big joke. The real laugh was the United States government. The global hyperpower spent the next week making itself a laughingstock to the entire planet. First, the bureaucrats at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) swung into action with a whole new range of restrictions.Against radical Yemen-trained Muslims wearing weaponized briefs? Of course not. That would be too obvious. So instead they imposed a slew of constraints against you. At Heathrow last week, they were permitting only one item of carry-on on U.S. flights. In Toronto, no large purses.Um, the Pantybomber didn’t have a purse. He brought the bomb on board under his private parts, and his private parts weren’t part of his carry-on (although, if reports of injuries sustained in his failed mission are correct, they may well have been part of his carry-off). But no matter. If in doubt, blame the victim. The TSA announced that for the last hour of the flight no passenger can use the toilets or have anything on his lap — not a laptop, not a blanket, not a stewardess, not even a paperback book. I can’t wait for the first lawsuit after an infidel flight attendant confiscates a litigious imam’s Koran as they’re coming into LAX.
You’re still free to read a paperback if you’re flying from Paris to Sydney, or Stockholm to Beijing, or Kuala Lumpur to Heathrow. But not to LAX or JFK. The TSA were responding as bonehead bureaucracies do: Don’t just stand there, do something. And every time the TSA does something, you’ll have to stand there, longer and longer, suffering ever more pointless indignities. Last week, guest-hosting The Rush Limbaugh Show, I took a call from a lady who said that, if it helps keep her safe, she’s happy to get to the airport “four, five, whatever hours” before the flight. Try to put a figure on “whatever” and you’ll get a sense of where America’s transportation system is headed. Ten years ago, you got to the airport 45 minutes, an hour before the flight. Now, thanks to the ever more demanding choreographers of the homeland-security kabuki, it’s two, three, four, whatever. Look at O’Hare and imagine the size of airport we’ll need. And by then the Pantybomber won’t even need to get on the plane; he can kill more people blowing up the check-in line.And remember, this was a bombing mission that “failed.” With failures like this, who needs victories?Joke, joke, joke. The only good news was that the derision was so universal that the TSA promptly reined in some of their wackier impositions a couple of days later. But by then Janet Incompetano, the homeland-security secretary, had gone on TV and declared to the world that there was nothing to worry about: “The system worked.”Indeed, it worked “smoothly.” The al-Qaeda trainee on a terrorist watch list, a man banned from the United Kingdom and reported to the CIA by his own father, got on board the plane, assembled the bomb, and attempted to detonate it. But don’t worry ’bout a thing; the system worked.Twenty-four hours later, Secretary Incompetano was back on TV to protest that her words had been taken “out of context.” No doubt, the al-Qaeda-trained CIA-reported cash-paying crotch-stuffed watch-list member’s smooth progress through check-in was also taken “out of context.”
CONTINUED...

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