Movie buffs will remember this line, from Marathon Man (1976). It is spoken by Laurence Olivier, playing ex-Nazi dentist Christian Szell, who is using the tools of his trade to torture Dustin Hoffman, portraying a New York graduate student, to reveal certain information. Szell wants to know if his evil plans have been found out, or if it is still safe to continue with his nefarious plot.
In addition to the physical torture, which actually had to be partially edited out, after preview audience members supposedly vomited, the good doctor drove his victim and viewers crazy with his incessant repetition: Is it safe? Is it safe? Is is safe?
So, let’s take a page out of his book, and apply it to the terror threat on our shores, and in the skies…
Just a few days ago, in what was obviously a dry run for an onboard attack, a dozen cell phone wielding suspects were dragged off an aircraft, after they refused to stop what they were doing. Incredibly, the captain was lured out of the cockpit (nice move, don’t you think?), and the plane returned to its starting point. The perps were detained for a day and then released.
A cover story was issued saying that they were all exchanging phone numbers, and none of them heard the crew’s instructions to shut off their phones. R-i-i-i-ght. The good news is that their fellow passengers were not afraid or embarrassed to speak up.
Numerous other “minor” incidents, including a raving woman who somehow was able to get several forbidden items onboard, have appeared in recent days. In most of these cases, we have been assured that nothing sinister is afoot.
As to the matter of various liquids being banned since explosive devices could be put together in-flight, we are told that while such devices might be fabricated, the perps would be quite conspicuous. Maybe. Still, as Ann Coulter has pointed out, given this new wrinkle in the security equation, what was up with everything that was being done—security-wise—between 9/12 and the liquid ban? Some sort of Kabuki theater?
Is is safe? Even if it is, consider the great cost. How much money should be spent, how many millions of travelers inconvenienced, and how many airlines need to go under? If “security” is the answer to this problem, then the answer to the Titanic disaster would have been finding more powerful pumps to remove the water, rather than avoiding the iceberg in the first place.
It looks to me like the terrorists have won their objective here. Air travel has been ruined.
What makes this even worse, if that’s possible, is that the only reason aircraft were chosen as objectives is that they represented a soft target. Now that this target has been hardened, the perps need only move on to other soft targets.
A moment’s reflection will convince you that it is simply not possible to harden up all targets, since the sheer number of them is virtually without limit. Therefore, enhanced security can NEVER be the answer, can it?
Is it safe?
The Government has an intractable problem. It cannot very well admit that it is powerless to protect its citizens, and, at least for now, it is prevented by a self-imposed political correctness to even target the most likely suspects. Of course, by the time it develops the political will to do exactly this, the bad guys will have recruited enough useful idiots who don’t fit the profile. Remember, it was the girlfriend of the Lockerbie bomber (1988) who unwittingly brought the explosive device onboard. A suicide bomber by proxy, if you will.
Much as the passengers aboard the cell phone flight had to take charge, and it took a normal citizen to effect capture of the Beltway Snipers and the Night Stalker, it is quite clear that we have to be our own best security force. Your tax dollars at work, I guess.
Is it safe? Only if we are all vigilant.