Patrick Smith is an airline pilot. He writes a fascinating blog called “Ask the Pilot” that is filled with excellent information about airplanes in flight, what goes on the cabin, etc. Recently, he told a story that pretty much sums up the state of affairs when it comes to the TSA and the ludicrous job that they do. He had just brought a plane in from overseas and he was going through the security check before entering a different terminal. In his flight bag, he still carried the silverware set that he was issued on the plane. Not for long… A woman working for the TSA whom he described as having a “girth that was only exceeded by the chip on her shoulder,” quickly confiscated the “serrated weapon.” Patrick’s reply was swift, “You don’t understand,” he said, “That’s the same knife that’s issued to every one of our passengers in flight.” They still took it. He talked to the supervisor, “Do I really need to explain that a pilot at the controls would hardly need a butter-knife if he or she wanted to inflict some damage?” Well, according to the TSA, it is too dangerous for a pilot (or anyone else) to carry a 5” blunted butter-knife on the plane.
Can you even believe it’s been eight years since the tragedy of 9/11? It dawned on me that my seven year old niece only knows the events of that day as she’s seen them on the internet. Hopefully, the stories she’s read have made an impression on her. For me, I remember the day our president announced the formation of the Homeland Security commission and that many changes were afoot. I had hoped that perhaps, in time, our government could improve the safety of air travel… given enough time. Well, here we are eight years later and in my opinion, we’ve learned a lot of lessons but we’ve done very little toward putting those lessons into action.
Consider that prior to 9/11, the vast majority of terrorist lead air travel disasters (30 of them since 1970) were done with smuggled explosives. Consider that the threat of hijacking was completely eliminated by the installation of a locking steel door to the cockpit. Simple. Effective. Done. So, why do we continue to focus on a zero tolerance screening effort at the gate that keeps innocent people from bringing aboard their nail clippers, but would have a difficult time detecting a terrorist with a pocket full of Plastic Explosive? If maximum security prisons have trouble keeping their prisoners from fashioning weapons out of every-day items, isn’t is reasonable to assume that a determined terrorist could do the same?
For the taxpayers to get their money’s worth out of the TSA, every single one of those buffoons should be removed from airports, re-trained, and re-stationed in the luggage distribution areas and cargo import/export warehouses. Such a small percentage of luggage and cargo is scanned that I’m amazed (and thankful) that we haven’t seen any more explosions in the sky.
I have to give the TSA an “F” for their efforts in the airport. I give the person who invented the cockpit security door an “A .”
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