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If You Fear Inflight Terror, STOP DRIVING!

I don’t blame President Obama or DHS chief Janet Napolitano for the foiled Christmas “underwear bomber” attack. Yes, there was a failure in sharing information, but it is the same failure to share information and connect dots that led to 9/11. This failure was supposedly fixed by the USA PATRIOT Act and the legislation that gave the Department of Homeland Security. But the PATRIOT Act was really about collecting more dots, not connecting them. And the DHS enabling legislation specifically exempted the FBI and the CIA — two agencies singled out in the 9/11 Commission Report for failing to share information. So if you want someone to blame for not connecting dots this time around, blame every Member of Congress who voted for these two pieces of legislation when they should have known they weren’t doing anything effective in the “connecting the dots” department.

What I DO blame President Obama and DHS for is continuing to buy into fear and exaggerating the threat this attacked posed. It feeds into the fearmongers who want our government to be still more intrusive. Today it’s new “see us nude” technology. This logically ends in random body cavity searches. And why? Because we’re afraid to die in a midair explosion? Even if the Christmas attack had been successful, this is not a rational fear for people who drive their cars every day. Depending on the number of people an airplane can hold, 85 to 113 planes would have to be successfully bombed each year to reach the number of Americans killed in auto accidents. That would be more than one successful airlinerĀ  bombing EVERY WEEK. No terror network has that kind of capacity. You can find one such calculation at http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/12/cars-or-terrorists.html.

If you’d like to do your own calculations, here are places to get your numbers:

Table 1035 – Transportation Accidents, Deaths, and Injuries (2010 Statistical Abstract of the United States)
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2010/tables/10s1035.pdf

Boeing 777-200 Passenger Capacity
http://www.aua.com/at/eng/Austrian/Fleet/boeing+777-+200/

Letting ourselves spend billions and randomly harrass millions of people to defend against a threat less likely to kill us than driving only helps meet al-Qaeda’s goal of draining our economy and isolating us. Don’t give in. Don’t be terrorized!

And to anyone out there who imagines I’m talking bravely while letting others take the risks, I cannot leave my town without getting on a plane or a ship. And with a three day ferry transit time to Washington State, when I travel, I fly.

I am willing to trade a slightly higher risk of terrorism (which continues to be much less deadly than driving) for not going through a virtual strip search or having my CPAP machine tested for explosives EVERY SINGLE TIME I pass through a security checkpoint. I don’t want to give al-Qaeda the satisfaction of changing my life for their benefit. If they can actually ramp up their attacks so they can succeed in bringing down an airliner EVERY SINGLE WEEK for a FULL YEAR, I’ll reevaluate my stand. Unless I’m on one of the planes that go down. In that case I will have metaphorically died on my feet rather than live on my knees. And that’s part of what I think it means to be American – to refuse to be intimated or terrorized by bad actors.

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One Response

  1. I agree with you and can’t stand the BS we have to go through at the airports. I’ve flown 400-500 times for work from 9/11/01-1/1/04 and would love to fly if we didn’t have to go through that BS. No, I don’t work in the airline industry.

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