Incompetence in the Air

This has got me really steamed — as the news unfolds after this latest air terrorism attempt, it turns out that the guy who is accused of trying to blow up a jet over Detroit was actually ON a US Terrorism Watch List. His own father even contacted authorities with concerns about his son’s activities — and he was still allowed onto an airplane without hassle.

Alrighty them. What exactly is the watch list there for if we don’t use it?!?

Even better, the TSA seems to think that punishing the entire traveling public with laughably stupid yet very annoying in-flight restrictions is the correct response to this massive cock-up.

The solution to this issue is not a mystery. You need to screen people better BEFORE they get on the plane. Yes, it’s hard. But it’s the right thing to do. Telling people they will be safe if they cannot use their iPod for the last hour of a flight is utterly pathetic.

It’s like the guy who, on noticing he’s lost his wallet, starts looking for it under the next streetlamp because that’s where the light is. You need to go where the real problem is, not where the easy fix is.

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How is This Helping?

After reading this USA Today piece, the phrase “needle in a haystack” comes to mind:

The [US] government’s terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list’s effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004.

[snip]
Leonard Boyle, director of the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, which maintains the list, says in testimony to be given today that 269 foreigners were denied entry in fiscal 2006.