First, while the Bush administration was successful in keeping us safe once they recovered from the 9/11 aftermath, they fell short in really putting long-term solutions to protecting the borders and the people. Partially this was due to political pressure and political correctness. But it also was because of a reliance on the early post-9/11 strategeries, which were successful at a loss of some freedom, which would not be an issue if we had a conventional enemy that wasn't going to take decades to defeat. More on that in a bit.
Enter the Obama administration, which on the war front, came in on the decidedly anti-Bush side, with a focus (other than dismantling the Bush era war effort) on most everything other than the war. Enter more political correctness, and a fear in the intelligence community that trouble could be coming for what was then determined to be legal activities conducted during the Bush administration. And I won't even go into the foolishness highlighted by the Secretary of Homeland Securiy, Janet Incompetano (another good line).
Add to that the perception that the focus of the war was Iraq and Afghanistan, and the usual incorrect overreaction we have any time anything happens, and you can guess what the problems are going to be.
So we come to Tuesday, where President Obama *surprise* holds another press conference (no, I didn't watch it, as I need to lessen my cursing in front of my daughter) to discuss the situation.
"The system has failed in a potentially disastrous way," Obama said. "The bottom line is this: the U.S. government had sufficient information to have uncovered this plot and potentially disrupt the Christmas Day attack. But our intelligence community failed to connect those dots, which would have placed the suspect on the no-fly list."
"This was not a failure to collect intelligence. It was a failure to integrate and understand the intelligence that we already had," Obama said. "That's not acceptable, and I will not tolerate it."
Well, it's a start. I'll also give him credit for not sending terrorists to the unsecure mess that is Yemen. Thankfully, a failed terrorist attack is just about as good as a successful one for moving public opinion and getting politicians of their asses, with the added benefit of no bodies on the deck.
But like the post-post-9/11 era (which really started somewhere after operations began in Iraq), we (and the administration) will forget and sink back into the domestic mess, the Super Bowl, and another retarded-assed season of American Idol, at least until the next attack.
The problems we face in fighting the war are numerous. First, we face an enemy that is patient, works for years for a single attack, and can just send someone to attack and have no ties with any other part of the network. They watch our responses, they look for weaknesses, they manipulate the political environment, and they use the freedom our society still protects as weapons.
Second is the aforementioned myopia. We deal with terrorism in a reactionary fashion. We fight the last war and the last battle every time. On 9/10/2001, the thought was that a airline hijacking involved guns, ransom demands, and hostages. Now our security is designed to protect from exploding shoes, shampoo, and nail files (or anything that might look sharp) because we think terrorists would be stupid enough to try a 9/11 repeat (they won't). Next, we'll be doing random wedgies.
Third, we rely on technology and policy to stop terrorism. While technology is a great tool, and needs to be constantly upgraded and evolved to keep up with our enemy's tech, it's only as good as the people operating it. And if we become complacent (and we always do), then the technology becomes a crutch. As for the policies, the result is stupid shit like strip searching a granny because you do a detailed search of every nth person.
Thankfully, there's me to come up with additional solutions (assuming we fix the intel problems and keep the tech rolling) to the specific challenge of securing our airways. Of course, since no one in the administration knows about me or has the balls to do what I'm about to suggest, and since I've been turned and corrupted into a total liberal pansy or something (at least according to some "true" "conservatives"), I might just be spinning my wheels here. But since I've gotten this far....
1. Profiling, Profiling, Profiling - I said it three times because, in stupid circles, the word and concept has become a bad word. Even worse, it's NOT something that can be made into a policy. Any time we do anything that even approaches profiling, someone bitches. Well, fuck 'em. Profiling is the most effective tool we can give to security screeners to root out threats. So it's a choice of offending someone and not losing a plane or ten, or sucking off political groups until it starts raining body parts and fuselage. That's not really a choice.
If you were in charge of security, you had 10 people, and you had to pick the most likely person to be carrying a bomb to do a detailed search, and you had only the information you could see in front of you, who would you pick? The 90-year-old granny? Her flaming male nurse and his even gayer boyfriend? A nuclear family of four (father, mother, boy, 8 and girl, 6? A black rapper (w/giant Flava Flav clock necklace) and his white bitch? Or the Arab-looking guy with a one-way ticket with the name Mohammed on it, no luggage, and a sweaty nervous look on his face?
Now an important point here is that profiling can't be a policy, i.e. anything we're doing now. It's a piece of a puzzle that means you need to look at a couple more pieces of the puzzle, and then you know who to pull out and check out. Which brings me to....
2. The Human Factor - One thing that, combined with profiling and technology, can get more people through with less hassle and probing and more safely than they are now is a skill that salesmen, store security, police, politicians, and psychologists, as well as many other people already possess: the ability to read people. It's something I use talking to people on the phone, listening for tells as to a person's competence in operating a computer and following directions. I usually have an idea before I have the most basic info is in my computer and I've started the actual tech support(username, real name, phone number, operating system). We're not talking rocket science. We're talking instinct, judgment, and the simple ability to look someone in the eye and see if they are nervous as hell because they're trying to sneak a biological weapon onto a plane (they could probably kill a planeload of people with a 1oz clear bottle of anthrax or something). It's the antithesis of a government security policy. It relies on individuals. And it's the only thing that can work.
That's it. You can take out all the stupid shit the TSA puts fliers through in a futile attempt to stop a terrorist attack that won't come (because they'll come up with a different way to attack us (hello? undies?)). And the point is to take out the bad guys, and not sacrifice our freedoms in the process.