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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 1/4/10

I Declare Myself a No-Fly Zone

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I've had it. I'm done flying until both the Government and the Airlines regain their sanity. This is no idle threat. I flew twice last year to Europe and once the year before to India too, and although it was a hassle, stupid and inconvenient, at least it was still sane. But now, all reason has broken down.

According to the Huffington Post today, there was a Newark Airport Lock Down when a "man walked through a screening checkpoint exit into the secure side of a terminal at one of the nation's busiest airports on Sunday night." It was six hours before air safety officials could find him again and passengers were allowed to begin boarding again. How long do you think it was until they caught up to their backlog during this busy holiday season?

While airports become paralyzed because of the stupidity of airline personnel, Government agencies can't coordinate the most flashing of red signals in the case of the underwear bomber, and government senior counterterrorism adviser John Brennan says there's no "Single piece of intelligence" that could have told them Farouk Abdulmutallab was a terrorist because we are still, 8 years after 9/11, unable to coordinate clues among agencies. Well, excuse me, but wasn't that why we consolidated Security agencies under Homeland Security in the first place? Wasn't the idea to take the "'little snippets' from intelligence channels" and bring "it all together"? As a former I.T. Manager, I believe it is not so hard to set up a secure database where these facts can be consolidated until a Red Flag, or, if that's too subtle, a flashing red light on top of a monitor, goes off, alerting someone authorized to see the totality of the information on someone - you know, like someone in Homeland Security - that, yes, we have a problem here. Not everyone who inputs data on someone should be able to see everything about that person. I used to design databases like that all the time for Human Resources at my old employer. But the people with top clearance do get to see, and evaluate everything, and a smart system should give them an hourly update of who's a potential threat. When I was running my servers, we'd get an hourly upgrade for new viruses. Why is it so hard to upgrade a solid database for these human viruses?

It is possible to get it right and have a safe airline. El-Al Airlines in Israel does it consistently. They are regarded as probably the safest airline in the world. Do they have some high tech scanner that looks up your orifices and sniffs you for suspicious odors? No, they ask questions of every passenger, In short, "The Israelis understand that it is the people who are threats, not the objects that they are carrying." If we did that here, we'd save a bundle on screening technology that invades our privacy and doesn't work, though we might have to pay our screeners more than $10/hour. God forbid we pay someone a decent wage in this country when we can spend millions on finicky machines that examine our private parts instead.

Meanwhile, ordinary citizens are stressed to the breaking point - it is just a matter of time before there's a riot or some innocent just drops dead of a heart attack. CNN shows a witness who said a woman with two small children and a heart condition was made to disembark, only to be rescreened by airline security again. If they really don't believe they got it right the first time, there are some serious systemic issues, aren't there? At the same time, the ones with defective hearts are the personnel who blindly and stupidly treat the passengers as an inconvenience and botheration.

Grandmothers are hassled and made to stand for hours in security lines, then go shoeless and without liquids, while half-dazed (on painkillers?), passportless terrorists known to US Intelligence for four months and tattled on by their own well-established fathers are led by mysterious well-dressed men past checkpoints so they can stumble their way into half-assed efforts to set their crotches on fire. Only passengers acting more competently than the stern yet dumb airline personnel who are supposed to be looking out for them are able to stop such threats. And what is their reward? To be made to feel like criminals and sheep in our decrepit and deteriorating air non-travel system. Enough! I'm as Mad as Hell and I'm Not Going to Take it Anymore!

As I write this, my wife is returning from India. I don't know what she'll encounter, but in some ways, I hope it will be a hassle, since she wanted me to go with her next time to see her family back home. I hope she understands that for now, I'm done with flying.

Trains and Automobiles, that's all for me until this country learns how to fly and how to enforce REAL security again. The system is broken and the people running the system are too stupid or dishonest to admit it.

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Scott Baker is a Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a former blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection.

His anthology of updated Opednews articles "America is Not Broke" was published by Tayen Lane Publishing (March, 2015) and may be found here:

Scott is a former and current President of Common Ground-NY (, a Geoist/Georgist activist group. He has written dozens of (more...)

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