Once again there has been a failure of Homeland Security that demonstrates the dangers of reacting to terrorists. Although officials were fast to stand before the news cameras and claim that danger was averted by the excellence of their security measures, the truth is disconcertingly different.
Huge sums of money have been spent on new bureaucracies and civil liberties have been stolen in the name of a fight on terror. Much of that has been grossly unnecessary.
Political correctness has prevented security services from profiling terror in the belief that is somehow infringes the civil liberties of Muslim terrorists. Instead, and at great cost, blanket security restrictions have been applied to every traveler. Having established these draconian measures, the bureaucrats have sat back and allowed the security to become formulaic and predictable, reducing its effectiveness against terrorists.
Then, when the system fails, the same bureaucrats resort first to spin. Their system failed. It may be unreasonable to expect any system to work perfectly, but even more unreasonable to claim failure is success in some Orwellian-Big-Brother-speak. That a passenger acted quickly to subdue a terrorist before he could detonate his explosive underwear on a crowded aircraft is an act of courage by a passenger and not a success for Homeland Security. The failure of Homeland Security was that a suspected terrorist was allowed to board a commercial aircraft with an explosive device.
The threat of the terrorist is that a small number of fanatics or the mentally ill can plan in private and act suddenly anyway in any way at any time. Preventing all such acts is impossible. Making life difficult for millions in a vain attempt to prevent all terror acts does nothing other than to hand victory to terrorists.
The best that we can expect to do is to introduce effective variable and unpredictable security measures that are targeted at terror profiles. This costs less, impedes the innocent much less and offers a higher prospect of success. Unfortunately politicians will feel the need for the appearance of action for action’s sake however much it disrupts the life of the innocent citizens.