We have all read about the Nigerian man who taped explosives to his leg and tried to bring down a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. My first thought was, “direct flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, who would have thought?” Then there was the news that President Obama has ordered a review of our security procedures trying to figure out how this guy, who was on a watch list, could have gotten on the flight unchallenged and without some additional security checks.
Now here is what I don’t get: Why isn’t there a team that is forever trying to breach the system to find the holes? I don’t know about you, but every time I fly, my engineer brain goes into overdrive thinking about the screening process and what I could do to thwart it. Don’t get me wrong. I would never try, but it is like puzzle and like any good American, I am always looking for ways to tweak a system to improve it. Why doesn’t Homeland Defense have a team of troublemakers like me that is forever gaming the system to improve it? Kind of like when you hire hackers to try to breach a system to improve security?
Maybe this is done, but the results aren’t getting filtered up. My many years working for the federal government taught me that my supervisors, no matter how incompetent, never wanted to be embarrassed and therefore tried to hide things that I always thought was public information, since the public paid for it. I have a feeling the same kind of thing might have been in play here.
If you hired a bunch of trouble makers like myself who could come up with “breach” scenarios, and then test these scenarios, we would have a much more secure system and maybe get rid of some of the ridiculous screening that does no good and wastes precious resources on non-threats. But if one were to implement such a system, then some news organization would report each successful breach and put some bureaucrat’s career in jeopardy and therefore this kind of real world testing either doesn’t happen, or the results get buried to stem criticism and nothing ever changes until a real breach occurs. Let’s face it. The latest breach was a rank amateur and that should really scare you.
There is one other thing that might help us here and that would be to recognize that profiling works. I know this is against our values of religious freedom and guilty by color of skin or religious preference. But let’s face facts. This is an attack usually by Muslim men radicalized in a religious fever. We could probably learn a lot from the Israelis who are masters at profiling to prevent terrorist attacks. It is time to recognize that the blond bombshell or the grandmother probably are not the threat and focus our efforts on those who are much more likely to be candidates for extremism.
If someday we recognize that guys and gals like me will be very unlikely to do such a violent act because we don’t believe in God and therefore don’t have some higher being authority to take the lives of our fellow citizens, then we can focus on the real terrorists. These would be primarily religious extremist whether they be Muslims or Christian Evangelicals. It is time to start profiling these people and leave the general masses to minimal screening. But what do I know? I just pass through that screening from time to time and then start mentally gaming it in my mind as a reflex because I am an engineer.