Brad Messer Commentary
Friday, August 1, 2003

TSA and Terrorists: Dumb and Dumber?

It's hard to decide whether terrorists are real smart or real dumb.

On the dumb side, remember one of 'em going to a flying school and saying he didn't need to learn how to take off or land, just how to steer a passenger jet? And the goofus on that transatlantic flight who couldn't get his shoe bomb lit? Dumb.

On the smart side, terrorists can get plenty of money. Money can buy fake ID and money in the right place can generate a counterfeit paper trail. Remember Andy Dufresne in "The Shawshank Redemption" creating a new identity on paper before he escaped? In real life, real people do that.

Maybe the Transportation Security Agency is having a hard time, too, deciding whether terrorists are dumb or smart. The TSA is about to begin testing a computer database setup that will check out people who buy airline tickets. Names will be run thru credit agencies, phone books, and other databases, to figure out whether you're really you.

Well, folks, you know the TSA hasn't forgotten that a terrorist with time and money can create a fake identity. So what are we doing? Have we decided to just hope we're lucky and all future terrorists will be as dumb as Shoe Bomb Boy or "I Only Need To Learn to Steer" Boy?

All this, while we have trained only 40 pilots to carry a gun in the cockpit since 9-Eleven.

Now I'm not only wondering whether terrorists are smart or dumb— I'm wondering exactly the same thing about the TSA.

Brad Messer commentary, KTSA.


Dallas News - 8/1/2003
U.S. to test new airplane passenger check

International Herald Tribune - 8/1/2003
U.S. scales back airline screening plan

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 8/1/2003
New checks to label fliers' terror risk

Washington Times - 7/30/2003
Government drags feet on air safety

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