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August 31, 2006

Ry picks a fight (or so he hopes)

[This is Denizen Ry's post - direct your comments to him, not me - not because I care, buy hey, credit's credit]

This is going to annoy some people. You’re warned.
62% of American’s back racial profiling as an anti-terror tactic.
I’m in the 37% who don’t agree with the racial profiling of passengers as a means to ensure safety on public transport while I do support the bans on carry on luggage----I’d actually been calling for them for years.

The question to me is one of pragmatism, not ideology or civil liberties.

I cannot deny the enemy access to the ‘battlespace’ of public transportation as a truly effective screening practice would take over an hour, but I can deny you the means to do something nefarious in that battle space---hence, no carry on luggage according to ry. Quick, someone restrain SWWBO before she strangles me. Yeah, I get the cost and the imposition. I’m still for it. We’re in a global war. What have we sacrificed for it?

Profiling just isn’t going to be effective as a means to spot the bad guys. I have a group of friends, brothers, from Mexico. They’ve got Europeans in the woodpile. Girls hitting on them tend to think that they’re Arabs when they were born in Teppa, Mexico. The same works vice versa with the few Iranians I knew back in Orange County----Latinas just thought they were rich Mexicans who drove nice cars and spoke oddly accented Spanish. Shave or trim the beard on many Arab or Middle Eastern men would look like European descended Mexicans to most of us Gringos. Howard Stern once played a game called ‘Spot the Jew’. Every contestant failed. Profiling is going to be playing ‘Spot the Jew’. Or worse than trying to find a needle in a haystack since hundreds if not thousands of Middle Eastern men travel daily.

Add to this that the Matricula Consular is accepted, or in the process of being made acceptable, for driver’s licenses in CA, OR, and WA. Would a DMV clerk recognize a fake MC? You can’t tell by looking and you can’t tell by the name since the documents to get a drivers license were originally forged. And we all know a states driver’s license is the golden pass key in the system we’re talking about.

Now add to this that most things in life follow one simple maxim: The Path of Least Resistance. You start aiming for ME men? They’ll start using women as Hamas has done in Palestine. Go after everyone of ME origin? They’ll shift to home grown Islamists and Middle Eastern descended folk. Go after all Middle Easterners they’ll shift to radicalized African Americans like the DC sniper. Ban African Americans from traveling, and if they don’t burn the country down around our ears, rightly, for doing so then they’ll shift to guys like the kid from Riverside, CA. Let's fight smart instead of fighting harder, okay?

You aren’t going to spot the guy. His job is to blend as best he can. You’re not going to be able to deny the ‘battlespace’ often enough to matter in this mode. Waste of time. Waste of effort. You’re not going to be able to deny the ‘battlespace’ with such a cursory 10 minute check as we’re going to employ. Window dressing as security is what that amounts to.

But denying carry on luggage (and I mean all luggage and electronic devices in the cabin)? I’ve now denied you the means to do anything other than be a sardine in your can. I’ve ensured that the air marshal or pilot/driver, or taken a step toward ensuring, is outgunning whatever bad guys get past the veneer only security check points.

It would require a much larger conspiracy and well connected on, with security being inversely proportionate to the number of people in on the secret, to sneak weapons or explosives onto the plane to do the dirty deeds. Of course the exploit exists---as some studies of Portland, OR airport (PDX) have shown--- but as my old basketball coaches taught me: the key to being a good defensive player is laying a trap for an opponent by making him think you're giving him something and then quickly closing what he thought was an opening.

We can control the cabin environment, meaning what is in it, a whole lot easier than we can control who does and does not get to travel. Mr. Bad Guy is going to get on that plane, bus, ship, and train. That’s his main mission. He trains for it intensively. He works a long time on that task alone while we have to toil away in mind numbing tedium hoping to actually spot the needle in the haystack.

So we take away his chance for weaponry instead. That is something we can control. Sorry, but a spork is not an effective weapon with which to hijack something. If everyone enters a plane with only their keychain, wallet, and a small amount of absolutely necessary medicines we’ve hampered the other side’s ability to operate and intimidate in the cabin.

The other way is not nearly as easy. There are explosives other than TATP that can be made in flight/transit or, more likely, hidden in the mundane items we would all put in carry on luggage. .I’m not saying what, I’m not saying how to do it, and I’m not saying how I know (does the Dr. Evil pinky thing). But I *do* know the what, I have thought long and hard how, and there are such things.

You cool with that? You so sure having toothpaste, deodorant, etc., your laptop and other electronics for your comfort are so important when I can use them to make a bomb to kill you all, bring the country to a screeching halt, and cause billions of dollars damage to the well being to the country? I’m not, and this story here from the Times UK explains the reasoning behind why I am not. Sure, the odds of it happening may only be .005%, but the result is so catastrophic it exceeds our nation’s economic and mental resiliency. Risk vs. risk times outcome ratios are just not in the favor of the ‘I want my MTV’ response. The payoff is just too dang small.

There are things that can be done to close the holes that were found at PDX and control the cabin environment on all manner of long range public transit---that’s the offer them an exploit and close it kind of thing, a trap basically, Val Potestas taught me to do to shut down the other teams high scorer. There’s little we, the traveling public, will tolerate to truly enhance security in the cue to make profiling worthwhile, or any other measure for that matter. We’re just too impatient; and to do anything takes time and a diligence our Constitution enshrined civil liberties cannot coexist with. So it is just a non-starter to talk about racial profiling since we aren’t even willing or able to do that *right*.

So, grudgingly, check all the crap you carry on with you instead. I know it is a pain. A serious pain for some who have to travel for work constantly as SWBBO does (I’m so sorry Beth. You must hate me for this. Sorry. Really, I hate this making life difficult for you and all of those who really have to travel routinely for work.). Yet, where are we to get REAL security when we know the enemy will penetrate no matter what measures we take into the ‘battlespace’? So we take away his chance for weaponry since we can control what people have easily available to them in the cabin/passenger area by taking away everything, and we’re able to scrutinize the checked luggage greatly. Please, join me in the 37% against profiling because it just isn’t going to feed the bulldog. Please? I’ll bake oatmeal cookies and pumpkin cheesecake if you do.

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