Between the Lines

Are You Smarter Than a Terrorist?

The idea that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) can stop terrorist attacks by means of its now-infamous “porno scanner,” or by forcing Americans to undergo intrusive body pat-downs as if they were inmates in a correctional facility, is utter nonsense, and everybody knows it—including our government officials.  The scanners cannot detect explosives that are secured inside the body, and who can doubt Al Qaeda would go to such lengths?  The pat-downs are worse than useless; anyone who is bringing contraband on board is going to allow for this.  The terrorists are always one step ahead of us: We’re still taking off our shoes because the “Shoe-na-bomber” tried to hide an explosive in his shoe, which didn’t even go off.  They’re searching our underwear because the “Underwear Bomber” hid an explosive there, which likewise failed to detonate.

In the meantime, the millions of tons of cargo that come in by ship every day from ports all around the world go unexamined and unscanned.  If you were a terrorist trying to smuggle, say, a suitcase nuke, would you carry it on a plane—or a boat?  The 9/11 Commission made these points about unexamined cargo years ago, and yet nothing has been done.  What’s more, every day thousands of illegal immigrants cross over into the United States, and yet calls to plug this giant hole in our national security are...

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