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Homeland Insecurity: You Can’t Fix Stupid

By Chuck Muth

Homeland "security" is quickly becoming a sick and dangerous joke...and not just because of those pretty-colored security warnings the feds trot out every holiday weekend. Some examples...

Tom Quinn heads up the Federal Air Marshal Service under the Department of Homeland Security. The air marshals he commands are supposed to secretly ride on passenger airplanes unnoticed and be ready to thwart any potential future hijackings. The key word here being "unnoticed."

Alas, Quinn has mandated a dress code for air marshals which, as T.J. Bonner of the Border Patrol describes it, "makes them stick out like a sore thumb." Nevertheless, agents have reportedly been told, "You wear a sports coat, or you wear a suit coat, or you look for another job."

Even if that means "blending in" with passengers decked out in Jimmy Buffet shirts and Panama hats on a plane bound for Miami in July?

The fact is, few passengers travel in business clothes any longer...which is why air marshals attired in their Sunday-go-to-meetin' suits are easily picked out in the airport crowd. Quinn's dress code is, for want of a more accurate word...stupid.

This issue first came up last spring, forcing Quinn to assure a Senate committee he would make concealing the marshals' identities "his number one priority." Yet over the Thanksgiving holiday, he made a surprise visit to Reagan National Airport in DC and reportedly grew considerably angry upon discovering, as the Washington Times reports, that "29 or 30 deplaning air marshals were dressed in varying states of compliance with the conspicuous marshal dress code."

Doggone it! They looked just like...um, regular passengers. I'll have somebody's head for this!

Good grief. If Osama is indeed sitting in a cave somewhere having a good chuckle at our expense, it's not without cause.

We have airport screeners who can fondle buxom blonds, strip-search grannies-in-pearls and give tykes-in-diapers a "full wanding"...but who aren't allowed to "profile" for additional scrutiny Middle-Eastern young men from Muslim countries.

We have a Transportation Secretary who trusts former military pilots to fly multi-ton aircraft loaded with passengers and jet fuel...but not to arm themselves with handguns in the cockpit to repel any future hijacking attempts.

We have a Congress which just passed an Intelligence reform bill to shore up our domestic defense against terror...but which refused to include a crackdown on immigration loopholes which allowed the terrorists who flew those planes into the World Trade Center towers to get U.S. driver's licenses.

And now we have a highly-qualified nominee to replace Tom Ridge as head of the Department of Homeland Security reportedly waylaid because of...a nanny problem? Where in the heck are our security priorities folks?

If this kind of politically correct crud continues to take precedence over our national security, the public could very quickly turn on the Bush administration, dooming any chance for a meaningful second term. Somebody at the White House and/or on Capitol Hill had better get its politically correct act together.


Chuck Muth


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