Monday, July 23, 2007

On airport security

Drudge has a sensational story up he titled "stunning security breach at Phoenix Airport". The video of the story is available at the link. Be sure to watch the following interview with the Phoenix Mayor at the end of the main report for added context.

As someone who's spent a fair portion of my career behind a security wall I'm here to tell you there are no absolutes. "We're safe" is the kind of language a politician uses when in front of the watchdog media crew or political debate. Life itself has never been "safe".

That's not to excuse security breaches, only to say that people make mistakes. Tired employees working their first mid shift with no sleep sometimes doze off. Security cameras fail. Expired ID badges are missed. People can pay off the guards or lie on applications. People are people. The alternatives are quite intrusive, such as full body-scanning equipment reminiscent of an Arnold movie or biometric national ID cards, etc.

Should Sky Harbor beef up their protocols? Maybe. Perhaps they could start wanding the employees and contractors who come and go every day, just to make sure. After awhile it's likely things would slip back into a complacency mode again if noting happens because maintaining daily vigilance is tough.

We also have to consider the comments from the Mayor, who said there are other measures in place, presumably cameras but probably stuff we don't know about. He also mentioned a sensible caveat: beware the contractor or union rep trying to gain more money or bigger contracts by floating sensational stories to the press, who often place scoops over facts. Even us pipsqueak bloggers understand that concept.

Bottom line--what better example of the need for the traveling public to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior? Hopefully Congress is listening.

MORE 7/24/07

Presumably the Democrats in Congress shot down the immunity provision in the bill because they were afraid the civil liberties of Muslims or other minorities might be trashed, which was good for those who may be racially profiled and wrongfully accused. I do have sympathy. Thing is, this seems to leave the traveling public at the mercy of large political advocacy groups with lawyers on retainer who can easily sue an individual into oblivion just for reporting something unusual. Unlike the Democrats in Congress, I have more sympathy there.

So lawyers, why not this: drop the immunity provision but force lawsuits against the traveling public to be filed ONLY by the individuals targeted. In other words, prohibit advocacy groups like CAIR from filing on behalf of their members. The member would have to get their own lawyer and could not accept financial help from advocacy groups or even pro-bono assistance on such cases.

That would remove the bullying effect but retain the right of redress. To further protect the "good Samaritan" the plaintiffs would automatically pay court costs of the defendants if they lose. If the plaintiff wins have a set damage cap based on a person's net worth. Draconian? Unconstitutional? Backdoor tort reform? I welcome your opinion.


Hot Air says so, but the devil is in the details. Our nearby Congressman Chairman guy Bennie wanted to stipulate between terrorist activity and common criminal activity, giving immunity only for the former. Good grief, what a mess, having Grandma trying to figure that out as Omar drives off with 10,000 pounds of fertilizer.

But on the same token, I don't like Grandma being able to sick the FBI on Omar just because she doesn't like Omar, with no fear of recrimination. Seems we need some kind of provision to where there would be immunity on the front end but if the person reporting turns out to be an abuser they could then be brought up on criminal charges whereupon the door to civil court would swing wide.

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