Tags: Author: | Airlines | Post | 9/11 | Still | Unsafe

Author: Airlines Post 9/11 Still Unsafe

Tuesday, 05 October 2004 12:00 AM

After all, argues Simerconish, in a tirade that lasts from the first page to the last, it was a cadre of Saudi Arabians – not little old ladies in walkers – that made it aboard those three doomed airliners.

So what gives?

In his search for answers to our steadfast political correctness in those long lines at the airports, the author – and the dumbfounded reader for that matter – can come up with only one explanation: Mr. Mineta’s mindset.

Ironically, the Simerconish theory is just as politically incorrect as the TSA’s rules are PC.

Mineta and his family were among the 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into interment camps during WWII. His experience, concludes the author, has “clouded his ability to be an impartial arbiter of appropriate airport screening in a post-9/11 world.”

An example of the mindset is a vignette drawn by Smerconish from an interview with the secretary by CBS’s Steve Croft on “60 Minutes:”

KROFT: Are you saying, at security screening desks, that a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Florida would receive the same level of scrutiny as a Muslim young man from Jersey City?

MINETA: Basically, I would hope so.

But, explains the author, the Mineta mindset has reached well beyond dialogue in media interviews. Under his command, the TSA has been second-guessing command pilots who have tossed Middle Eastern types off their aircraft after being advised by the crew of suspicious, uncooperative behavior.

Even when coupled with questionable travel documents or similarity with watch list names, the agency has heavily fined those carriers whose pilots haven’t played nice-nice with this or that swarthy passenger.

Unfathomable, argues the author, who points to the fact that a twentieth hijacker was kept from boarding by a watchful Customs officer.

Customs officer Jose Melendez-Perez stopped the twentieth hijacker, who was supposed to be on Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania. This left that attack team short one man from the planned team of five thugs -- probably making it possible for the brave passengers to wrestle control of the aircraft and keep it from its intended target in Washington, D.C.

Incredibly, his colleagues and supervisors badgered the politically incorrect officer the whole way, warning that he was going to get in trouble with the Department of Transportation’s policy against racial profiling.

That tossed thug was later captured in Afghanistan and shipped to Gitmo.

Thank God for Melendez-Perez, says the author.

A real lesson for post-9/11?

Not at all, reveals Smerconish, who argues that there was a policy (described by 9/11 Commission witnesses) in effect to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning. And there’s no substantive difference in these dangerous times.

Smerconish’s last best hope was that the 9/11 Commission would firmly address the profiling gap in its final report and recommendation. But, alas, finds the author, “Having scanned the 567 pages of the 9/11 Commission report, a serious treatment of ‘terrorist profiling’ is nowhere to be found.”

The author ends on a frustrating note: “Even if all the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission are put into place, we will come up short in the war against terror unless we emulate Mr. Melendez-Perez. We need to profile. We still have work to do.”

“In the immortal words of Todd Beamer, ‘Let’s roll!’”

WARNING: “Flying Blind” will leave the reader frustrated and fearful.

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After all, argues Simerconish, in a tirade that lasts from the first page to the last, it was a cadre of Saudi Arabians - not little old ladies in walkers - that made it aboard those three doomed airliners. So what gives? In his search for answers to our steadfast...
Author:,Airlines,Post,9/11,Still,Unsafe
562
2004-00-05
Tuesday, 05 October 2004 12:00 AM
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