ISIL, TSA, ASAP

November 6, 2015

Whether further investigation of the downed Russian passenger plane in the Sinai desert proves that terrorists did NOT plant a plastique device inside the Airbus is now irrelevant. European leaders, the Obama administration and airline experts are all backing the theory that ISIL and its affiliates in Egypt were behind the mid-air explosion that left 244 Russians dead. As many have said, this alleged attack is a game changer.

Now the attention turns to international travel safety and the ability of government security agencies to protect passengers from terrorists attacks. If past performance is any guide our airport security agency, the TSA, does not foster a great deal of confidence. Time after time TSA agents were shown to be negligent in spotting dangerous items that were part of regular test operations conducted by undercover officials of the agency. Yes, TSA agents were able to find most hidden devices in carry-on bags on in luggage, but a failure rate of around 5% is certainly not reassuring to passengers in this new age of terrorism.

We may be approaching a time when carry-on bags are forbidden, passengers are patted down with regularity and random individual screenings are the norm. And you thought taking off your shoes was a pain – the new regimen will certainly make the traveling experience a real chore.

But if indeed the downing of the Russian Airbus was caused by a terrorist bomb, major changes in security will need to be put in place ASAP. It is not enough to fly around the Sinai Peninsula, nations will have to put in place Israeli-style procedures that incorporate layers and layers of security that involve not just high-tech machinery but diligent and sometimes aggressive security agents at various stops along the way to boarding a plane.

Some will say that the only way to guarantee security is to crush ISIL with a major international military force. That decision may be implemented sooner than most people think, especially if these attacks on airlines continue. But for the moment security changes to ward off ISIL inspired attacks by the TSA must begin ASAP.

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Obama Wins! For Now

May 2, 2011

Barack Obama has had a pretty good couple of days; he put to rest the birther movement ( except for the real nut cases who live off conspiracies) and now he gave the order that took out Public Enemy # 1 Osama bin Laden. Already his stock in the polls has increased and silenced the real nut cases who thought he belonged to a Muslim sleeper cell protecting bin Laden.

But like John F. Kennedy after the Russians took their missiles out of Cuba in 1962, Obama’s uptick in the ratings is likely to be fairly short-lived. But the lesson of this special ops attack against Obama is that there is no doubt that this President is fearless when it comes to using military force to advance this country’s security interests and certainly bullish on anti-terrorism.

It would be nice if the killing of Osama would be the spark to get this country on the move again and believing that we can do anything we put our mind to. Killing a terrorist is not the same thing as getting millions back to work or lowering the debt, but it does show that the calm, calculated and cautious planning approach of the President is the way to solve problems, not the high octane pronouncements of the right-wing of the Republican Party.

But because this is the beginning of the electoral season in the United States, the accolades for the President from both sides of the aisle will soon be replaced with jeers and petty criticism. That’s politics in 21st century America.

Yet it is important to remember that while Obama has often been criticized for not being passionate or outspoken or confrontational, his way of plugging along without all the partisan jive that has replaced thoughtful analysis has a great deal of merit and can be successful. By lowering our voices, keeping our eye on realistic goals, and making cautious and pragmatic decisions, the President has developed a leadership model that is worthy of our respect.

Within a few weeks when all the hoopla about the killing of Osama bin Laden has ended, this country will get back to its old ways of partisan bickering. But it is important to remember that in protecting this country and developing a strong foreign and security policy, the American people and all those politicians in Washington owe Barack Obama a large measure of gratitude.