Fly Our Unfriendly Skies

I know this is going to come as a galloping shock, but it turns out that our commercial air travel is still vulnerable to terrorism:

U.S. aviation
remains vulnerable to attack and groups such as al Qaeda may try to
target non-commercial planes and helicopters, the New York Times
reported, citing a confidential government report.

The report by the FBI and the Department
of Homeland Security says the aviation industry is a tempting target
for acts of terrorism due to the spectacular nature of such attacks,
the Times said on Monday.

My first instinct here was to
attack Bush. And he certainly deserves attack. He’s failed to do about
a million simple things you could do to make air travel safer, such as
rectifying John Kerry’s much-ballyhooed accusation that we only check
about 2% of cargo containers
civilians get onto
aircraft, and their luggage is X-rayed, but the cargo hold is not.

But then, another thought occurred to me: Of course we’re still vulnerable to terror.
What else would we be? Is it even conceivable that the committee would
issue a report declaring our invulnerability to terror? "Take the
terror alert thing down to blue, Jim! We’re safe!" Terrorism has been
around since the 11th century. I’m all for being the safest
we can be, but does anyone really think we’re going to eradicate the
phenomenon with better customs screening?

This is the biggest problem with Bush’s anti-terror strategy. It’s
not that it won’t stop terrorism; it’s that the stated goal is to stop terrorism.
He has embarked us, effectively, on a neverending war with an
impossible goal. This is why I actually liked Kerry’s "nuisance" line.
He acknowledged that maximal safety was important, but realized that
failing to acknowledge the reality of terrorism would just leave
Americans scared all the time by ominous committee reports like this
one, without any meaningful benefit. Of course, Kerry wasn’t the one
whose election required a sizeable chunk of the electorate to be
constantly terrified.

- Daniel A. Munz