In the wake of the Islamic terrorist attack in Brussels on Tuesday, it appears U.S. authorities are set to respond in the exact wrong way: by enlarging the massive but often ineffective security charade.
It might make some Americans feel slightly safer, but increased security checkpoints in public places do absolutely nothing to properly combat violent Muslim non-state actors — and everything to bring us one step closer to a police state.
“That attack at the airport occurred not inside the gate, but in the departure area,” Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) told Russia Today. “I requested a federal accountability study a year ago” that “found out they needed to do a broader risk assessment of our airports,” he said.
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“All the security risks aren’t when you get past that security gate in the machines, it’s outside, it’s at the curb, and you’re going to see more action” there, said Keating.
That the best a U.S. representative could offer in the wake of the Brussels attacks — who sits on the House Homeland Security no less — is to increase security outside of airports is disconcerting, but astonishingly Keating was not the only one to offer such a stunningly pointless suggestion.
“There’s an effort I think on the part of TSA to start to move the airports into pushing the security envelope back,” former Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff told CBS Tuesday morning. “We’ve seen some of that in terms of not allowing you to park in front of the terminal, but I think we’re going to have to step that up,” he said.
While Chertoff — who coauthored the PATRIOT Act — may find joy in the idea of increasing the number of intrusive security measures in an increasing number of locations, most Americans no doubt wonder how a large security check a mile from the airport would actually make them any safer than a large security check inside the airport. Short answer? It wouldn’t.
Remarkably Chertoff even admitted as much while trying to justify his endorsement of pushing back the “security envelope.” The part of the “airport before the checkpoint is not really controlled by the federal government, it’s controlled by the local authorities” he said. “It has increasingly become vulnerable, because as people wait to go through security they actually congregate there.”
Chertoff observes rightly that large security checkpoints inside of airports lead inevitably to large crowds, which create soft targets for terrorists. His solution is large security checkpoints outside of airports. Of course, how these magical mystery checkpoints a distance away from airports would be any more secure than security checkpoints inside of airports, Chertoff does not say.
There were also numerous reports Tuesday and Wednesday of increased security presence in transport hubs such as train and subway stations consisting mainly of more officers — some even had assault weapons — and bag checks.
Granted these extra officers and bag checks are only inside said stations — so presumably not quite as effective as if they were located 100 meters outside of them — but they are no doubt just as effective in making radical Muslims perfectly willing to die think twice about blowing themselves up.
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They are certainly effective in making some Americans feel a false sense of security and making all Americans a little less free. But fundamental American freedoms are not the root cause of Islamic terrorism. Fundamentalist interpretations of Islam are the root cause of Islamic terrorism.
Rather than making travel less efficient, more intrusive, and potentially more dangerous, the government could try doing something useful like actually fighting that root cause. Ben Franklin once said those willing to give up a little liberty for temporary security deserve neither. One can only imagine what he would have said of those willing to give up a lot of liberty for no real security whatsoever.