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More and More, Pointing to Iraq

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

We seem to have some evidence that one of the hijackers had tea with an Iraqi intelligence officer a few weeks ago in Europe. I doubt they were setting up a soccer match.

Bin Laden first. Then Saddam Hussein.

Once again I wake up this morning and there's no word of any rocket's red glare. That's OK, though. With every passing day anger gets transformed into resolve. I have no doubt in my mind that President Bush and his military and civilian advisers are planning a thorough response … and I have no doubt that Osama Yomama knows this, too. He knows his goose is damn near cooked and that he's about to meet Allah. Saddam Hussein is probably trying to deflower a few more virgins before the Rangers come for him.

As time passes, more and more Anti-American Americans will become emboldened and will speak out. The "Blame America" crowd is finding its voice. For the rest of us – those of us who truly believe that we were blessed by God to be born in this country – the challenge will be to keep patient and maintain our determination while our military gears up for its response.

In the days to come we are going to find that some of the most dangerous enemies of freedom live right here in America – usually in college and university enclaves. We'll have to keep them at bay while we deal with the people responsible for last week's carnage.

"Welcome home." That's how Tom Brokaw wrapped up his live interview with Bill Clinton last night during NBC Nightly News. The interview included such hardball questions as:

Questions not asked:

What did this so-called interview accomplish? Absolutely nothing. It was another puff piece produced by a media that wish Bill Clinton was still in office.

So, what are the oh-so-diligent airport security staff taking away from travelers?

Razors. Nail clippers. Scissors. Knitting needles. Tennis racquets. Golf clubs. LAX took an antique tire pump and an empty bullet box.

Basically, if it has a sharp edge to it, it gets confiscated. There's no room for independent thought on whether the sharp object could really be used as a weapon. It's the same kind of "zero tolerance" we see all the time in government schools. Kids get suspended or kicked out of school for bringing nail clippers or drawing pictures of guns.

What the hell is a hijacker going to do with a nail clipper and file? Manicure the flight crew to death?

Lots of airport security experts – including one who was interviewed on NBC last night – say the security improvements put in place after last Tuesday's attacks are a joke. It's feel-good window dressing. Some government officials are even considering a total ban on carry-on luggage, even purses!!!!

Airport security is not going to improve until the burger-flippers manning the checkpoints are replaced with trained, competent, dedicated people who actually give a damn about what they're doing. Blank-faced myrmidons applying mindless "zero tolerance" policies do not make a good security staff.

This is a tough question for a dedicated libertarian. Should the government use its police power to seize money from taxpayers and transfer that money – partly as a gift and partly as a loan – to the airlines to keep them afloat?

It's a tough question, and we'll deal with it on the air and in this column. One thing … to the extent that the airline problems are due to government actions, the government owes the airlines some compensation.

But let's face it. The airlines haven't exactly been doing a lot to earn the undying love and gratitude of the American public. Let's just say, for the sake of argument, that the taxpayers of America do step forward and bail out the airline industry. How about a few things in return?

NBC also took time last night to show a story on the possibility of arming people – including the pilots – on commercial aircraft. Tom Brokaw introduced the story by saying that some were taking the idea of airline safety to "extreme heights."

Yeah, trying to make sure that someone other than a terrorist might be armed is "extreme."

So they stuck cameras in the faces of three or four travelers and asked them what they thought. One man said pilots weren't policemen. A woman expressed her tentative support for arming pilots. The last woman feared the pilots' weapons could be easily taken away and used against them.

Gee. Where have I heard this before? Those of you who keep track of the gun control debate have heard these arguments over and over again. Why is it suddenly "extreme" to want to protect yourself while you're sitting on a 360-ton guided missile? Oh, that's right ... in the eyes of the anti-gun media, it's "extreme" for ordinary Americans to want to own and use guns for self-defense.

And that thing about pilots not being policemen. Let's dispense with the notion that policemen are the only ones qualified to carry guns. A large number of commercial pilots are ex-military. They honed their flying skills in the armed services. They know their way around guns. And let's not forget that the majority of states now issue concealed-weapons permits to civilians! These states trust their residents to carry and use guns responsibly.

That man who told NBC that pilots aren't policemen has obviously fallen for the leftist idea that only law-enforcement authorities should be allowed to have guns – and he's totally unaware that few policemen are actually capable of handling a gun under pressure. Criminal justice experts say most officers don't have enough realistic training. Besides, the police can't respond to an emergency call from an airliner until it lands.

And that nonsense about the pilot's gun being taken away by an attacker. Gary Kleck, the Florida State University criminologist, wrote about that concern in his book, "Targeting Guns." Kleck looked at defensive gun uses and found that guns are taken away from their owner and used by the assailant in fewer than 1 percent of all cases.

An armed citizenry deters criminals. This applies equally to commercial aircraft and to residences and businesses on the ground. Israel's national airline, El Al, understands this. Will the gun grabbers understand that their policies prevented passengers and crew from stopping the hijackers last Tuesday?

As irrational as they've been on the gun control issue lately, I'm not expecting the anti-gun hysterics to suddenly become enlightened.

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We seem to have some evidence that one of the hijackers had tea with an Iraqi intelligence officer a few weeks ago in Europe.I doubt they were setting up a soccer match. Bin Laden first.Then Saddam Hussein. Once again I wake up this morning and there's no word of any...
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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