Flying With the Enemy

It's time to get serious about airline security

When comedian Joan Rivers was booted off a flight from Costa Rica to Newark, N.J., this past weekend, it was not because she had perpetrated crimes against the human appearance. Rather, it was because she was a potential security risk.

In a recent column, my assertion that airport security should ignore most of us and focus on bad actors (not the Joan Rivers variety of bad actor, though one sympathizes), who tend to originate from disagreeable locales (not Hollywood) and affiliate themselves with a religious denomination (not Scientology), provoked a torrent of livid e-mails to land in my inbox.

One perturbed writer, an American Muslim, encapsulated the thoughts of many by accusing me of "encouraging ... racist profiling," calling that "inexcusable and ignorant." This sentiment also was found in the progressive blogosphere as a reaction to any mention of ethnic or religious profiling.

Evidently, the Obama administration—despite unleashing a barrage of euphemistic rationalizations—is also a nest of boorish, racist sentiment, as it instructed airports to profile travelers en route to the United States from 14 countries, most of which share some vague thematic connection. They include Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Saudi Arabia, et al.

It is a shame that anyone has to endure questioning or pat-downs or worse at airports, but the fact is that those who are behind terrorism have, by large margins, originated from these 14 nations. (Islam, incidentally, is not a race; it is a faith. So there is nothing "racist" about criticizing it or its adherents, most of whom—need it be repeated—are peaceful.)

No serious person in this nation has insinuated that Islamic religious freedoms should be infringed or curtailed. Yet if these indignant letter writers were interested in unearthing honest-to-goodness inexcusable ignorance, widespread dehumanization, and institutionalized xenophobia, they could find it in abundance in any run-of-the-mill Muslim theocracy, monocracy, or autocracy. There are many to choose from.

That reality, of course, is none of our business, as a matter of policy. Protecting citizens from foreign threats, on the other hand, is.

Understandably, this has unfurled a complex situation. Are we overreacting? What is an appropriate level of interrogation? When is war justified? What rights do enemy combatants have? Fair debates, no doubt.

But a person can oppose waterboarding or war or foreign entanglements or nation building and still accept that certain countries and religions harbor "militants"—even if such a militant makes a stopover in Frankfurt.

Yet ... the excuse-making. The tiptoeing. Terrorism is now a "man-caused disaster." The Fort Hood terrorist was just stressed out after learning about a deployment to Iraq—you know, after he voluntarily joined the Army.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the crotch bomber, was, according to the president, an "isolated extremist"—which is true, if he means the extremism is isolated to a few million people.

Obama went on to talk about the "crushing poverty" of Yemen, insinuating that neediness is a root of man-caused disasters—though the underwear bomber came from a wealthy and educated family and the "crushing poverty" of Haiti has yet to compel that nation's young men to stuff explosives down their pants.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained that singling out a group of people is "extreme and very dangerous. All of a sudden people are labeled as being related to terrorism just because of the nation they are from."

Well, I hate to break it to them, but Americans already relate terrorism to the nations that terrorists always seem to come from. And if there's a better way to keep extremists off planes, I'd love to hear it.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  • Kevin||

    Love the Playmobil picture.

  • ||

    +1

    Playmobil was the shit.

  • Tonio||

    Actually, I find the existence of the Playmobil "Airport Security Set" to be unbelievably creepy. I'm sure this is marketed to parents preparing the young 'uns for their first airline flight: "see honey, and then the nice policeman will wand you down..."

    We are so lost...

  • jj||

    As a lover of playmobil I agree with Tonio

  • ||

    Balko had a post about that actual set. I'll see if I can find it...Wow, almost a year ago. That was a pretty funny thread.

  • JB||

    Really wish I would have bought this when it was on Amazon. $60 on ebay is just too much.

  • ||

    Holy crap- toys have gotten a lot scarier since I was a young'un. I had, like, the Playmobil gas station.

    Amazon says the security checkpoint set is currently out of stock. Maybe they're updating it to include a private body-cavity-search area?

  • ||

    I sure hope it's that maw of shredded foam like the Death Star playset.

  • ||

    This? Dude, if you had that you must have been the coolest kid ever. Maybe the 70's weren't as horrible as I imagine.

  • ||

    Yes. It was destroyed when my second cousin crushed it with a milk crate full of Hot Wheel tracks. He went bald at the age of 20. I like to think the two things are related.

  • ||

    Ah, see I was the one who accidentally destroyed my cousin's Hot Wheels tracks. Nowhere near as cool as the Death Star, so I'm hopefully safe from baldness.

  • ||

    I had that. It was lost in the great Garage Sale Extinction Event of '84.

  • Keith Olbermann||

    But Richard Reid was British!

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    I've already pointed out that race-based discrimination would be pointless, because other races can become Muslim extremists as well, and we can't necessarily tell from a name whether someone is Muslim. If we are only going to be profiling those with Muslim-sounding names, terrorists would just recruit people with non-Muslim sounding names. See Richard Reid.

  • Draco||

    I call bullshit on that, Hobo. It's not going to be so easy to recruit suicide bombers outside of the "normal groups."

    I actually think we could start by just asking "Religion?" Most people will answer truthfully. Then you give special VIP treatment to the Muslims.

  • oaktownadam||

    you assume someone intent upon becoming a mass-murderer is going to answer security screening questions truthfully.

    especially after the 'dry-runs' have shown the terrorists that people who self-identify as muslim get the rubber glove treatment.

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    That will work SO well. Why didn't someone think of that already, Draco? Let's see, TSA is under the auspices of Congress, who can make no law violating freedom of religion and there is a protection preventing discriminatory treatment based upon religion. But who needs the Constitution or anything? Especially when it comes to something that is not even a high risk.

    See http://reason.com/archives/200.....terrorized

  • ||

    Hobo,
    The Federal Government discriminates based on race all the time - i.e. minority set asides in government contracting - for questionable reasons and in ways that affect people in major ways. Why not screen based on religion and national origin for an exellent reason in ways that affect people in very minor ways?

  • John Tagliaferro||


    When comedian Joan Rivers was booted off a flight from Costa Rica to Newark, N.J., this past weekend, it was not because she had perpetrated crimes against the human appearance. Rather, it was because she was a potential security risk.

    The evidence of risk being her married name and her stage name being printed on her passport. Behind every pantybomber there's a Rosenberg.

  • ed||

    And a gallon of Botox.

  • The Gobbler||

    War Correspondent Michael Yon was arrested (and handcuffed) at the airport in Seattle yesterday for refusing to tell the TSA his annual income.

    http://biggovernment.com/2010/.....e-airport/

  • ||

    That's lovely. Nice to know the dipshits at Seatac are keeping us safe from those dangerous Americans with undisclosed incomes.

  • ||

    Great. I'm going to have to go through there in the next couple of weeks. Should be interesting.

  • oaktownadam||

    You probably don't have stamps from *every single* terrorist-related country in your passport, like Mr Yon does.

    On the other hand, not disclosing income is a ridiculous reason to arrest someone.

  • Fang||

    "Behind every pantybomber there's a Rosenberg"

    Shhhhhh....

  • Death Panelist||

    Revolt against the honor to obey.

  • Draco||

    David Harsanyi is completely correct here, and the only thing missing is to point out the hypocrisy of Obama and the Democrats for implementing this policy. If it had been Bush, we'd have been told that this was just more Bushitler, and there is no war beyond what the US has created or caused, and that if we profile them they'll just hate us more.

  • ||

    So true. Obama is plenty hawkish with drones blasting people daily in several countries and stepping up the Afghan War and now profiling by country.

    Makes Cheney look foolish with his lies, doesn't it?

    The big difference is that Obama doesn't have that "smoke em' out!" cowboy attitude.

  • The Gobbler||

    So it's all about the packaging with you people.

  • Old Mexican||

    And if there's a better way to keep extremists off planes, I'd love to hear it.

    Ok, here it goes . . . puff puff puff . . . Ready?

    STOP BEING THE FUCKING POLICEMAN OF THE WORLD AND MIND YOU OWN FUCKING BUSINESS FOR A CHANGE!!!!

    See how easy that is?

  • ||

    Exactly, the long US involvement in Nigeria and previous invasions of the place clearly motivated the Christmas bomber. So did the rank poverty of his central banker family. And of course, if the fucking evil imperialistic Spanish had mended their ways, Madrid would have never happened. Same with those bastards in Bali who keep trying to police the world and kill Muslims.

    You have to live in some kind of "the world totally revolves around the US" bubble to think that these people will stop trying to kill us if we would just be nicer to them.

  • The Gobbler||

    "So did the rank poverty of his central banker family"

    My friend Tom, who is cvurrently in Yemen, spent about three years working in Nigeria overseeing the installation of Oil platforms in the delta. The country is a fucking Along the way, it was common to see dead folks in the street stip completely naked. Often, the bodies would remain their for days.

    Also common: people would slap a few strips of duct tape on their chest in an attempt to look official, and then stop cars which they would hold until a bribe was paid. The general population lives like animals.

    But, I have seen pictures that contrast oil wealth with crushing poverty. Like this for instance:

    http://www.edkashi.com/PUBLISH.....p98_99.jpg

    So it's not hard to see why Nigerians (and yes I know this latest guy was a banker's son) who are not getting a dime of money from the western oil companies (but they do get all of the pollution) would want to blow up the west.

  • The Gobbler||

    That should have read:

    The country is a fucking mess. He frequently traveled to the oil ministery under armed guard. Along the way, it was common to see dead folks in the street stip completely naked. Often, the bodies would remain their for days.

  • ||

    Exactly, the long US involvement in Nigeria and previous invasions of the place clearly motivated the Christmas bomber. So did the rank poverty of his central banker family. And of course, if the fucking evil imperialistic Spanish had mended their ways, Madrid would have never happened. Same with those bastards in Bali who keep trying to police the world and kill Muslims.

    You have to live in some kind of "the world totally revolves around the US" bubble to think that these people will stop trying to kill us if we would just be nicer to them.

  • Old Mexican||

    You can say THAT again!


    ;-)

  • ||

    Sorry. It sometimes double posts. Don't know why.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    Exactly, the long US involvement in Nigeria and previous invasions of the place clearly motivated the Christmas bomber. So did the rank poverty of his central banker family. And of course, if the fucking evil imperialistic Spanish had mended their ways, Madrid would have never happened. Same with those bastards in Bali who keep trying to police the world and kill Muslims.

    Remember that the Nigerian nitwit was recluted by an Al Qaeda based on Yemen which was BOMBED by the US illegally (that is, with no Constitutionally-mandated declaration of war.)

    Spain was attacked because Aznar decided to send troops to Iraq, for no other reason than to kiss Dubya's ass.

    And no Balinese has ever attacked the US so I do not understand your comment.

    You have to live in some kind of "the world totally revolves around the US" bubble to think that these people will stop trying to kill us if we would just be nicer to them.

    Who said anything about being nice to them? I don't have to be nice to my neighbors, just keep my nose out of THEIR affairs.

  • ||

    But Bali was attacked even though it was a peaceful country that had never bothered anyone.

    And we are not illegally bombing Yemen. Their are people in that country making war upon us whom the government either refuses or is unable to stop. That gives us the right to act in our own self defense. No country, not even the evil United States, is expected to sit around and do nothing while people on foreign soil plan to attack it.

    Further, even if the Yemenis' rage is justified, how exactly does that justify some guy from Nigeria killing a bunch of people on a plane, many of whom are not even Americans?

    And as far as Spain goes, after they pulled out of Iraq, there have been several bomb plots broken up since. Pulling out of Iraq bought them absolutely no safety. The jihadists who live there want to kill them. There is no accommodating them.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    But Bali was attacked even though it was a peaceful country that had never bothered anyone.

    Don't twist words - Bali wasn't attacked, some hotel was attacked, that contained Americans. Different thing.

    And we are not illegally bombing Yemen. The[re] are people in that country making war upon us whom the government either refuses or is unable to stop.

    It is illegal by Constitution to wage war on anybody without a declaration of war. Unless these Yemen nationals invade the US, whatever they do on their country is their business - the US Gov just has to prevent them from coming to the US by not allowing them entrance. But bombing a sovereign country IS an act of war, for which only Congress can authorize the C. in C. to wage war through a Constitutionally-mandated Declaration of War.

    That gives us the right to act in our own self defense.

    No, it does not. You cannot attack a severeign state just because some of their nationals have a personal problem with the US. The Gov can prevent them from coming into the US, but it cannot attack foreign territory without a Declaration of War.

    No country, not even the evil United States, is expected to sit around and do nothing while people on foreign soil plan to attack it.

    Oh, I certainly expect any of them to do so. Just because the German Chiefs of Staff were putting together the Schlieffen Plan did not mean that France was justified to attack Germany as back as 1910.

    Further, even if the Yemenis' rage is justified, how exactly does that justify some guy from Nigeria killing a bunch of people on a plane, many of whom are not even Americans?

    It does if you think they are responding to an aggression with the only tactic they can use. This is why instead of simply bombing everybody, the US should instead leave everybody to be and concentrate on who's coming in to the US. That's the more rational approach and, lo and behold, the least EXPENSIVE one.

    And as far as Spain goes, after they pulled out of Iraq, there have been several bomb plots broken up since. Pulling out of Iraq bought them absolutely no safety. The jihadists who live there want to kill them. There is no accommodating them.

    Not after Aznar left.

  • ||

    Not after Aznar left.

    Bullshit

    http://islamizationwatch.blogs.....r-way.html

    "Don't twist words - Bali wasn't attacked, some hotel was attacked, that contained Americans. Different thing."

    Again, more horseshit. Bali is mostly Buddhist and Australian tourists. Bali is Australia's Hawaii. There were very few Americans killed in that attack. Attacking Americans was not the motivation.

    "It is illegal by Constitution to wage war on anybody without a declaration of war. Unless these Yemen nationals invade the US, whatever they do on their country is their business - the US Gov just has to prevent them from coming to the US by not allowing them entrance. But bombing a sovereign country IS an act of war, for which only Congress can authorize the C. in C. to wage war through a Constitutionally-mandated Declaration of War."

    That is just bunk. The Congress never declared war against the Barbary Pirates. The US acted in preemptive self defense in the Caroline case. The US went into Mexico after Poncho Vilia without a declaration of war. It is established international law that a country can act in both preemptive self defense and that they have a right to act against a sovereign where that sovereign refuses to control parties acting on its territory.

    "It does if you think they are responding to an aggression with the only tactic they can use. This is why instead of simply bombing everybody, the US should instead leave everybody to be and concentrate on who's coming in to the US. That's the more rational approach and, lo and behold, the least"

    So because we invaded Iraq or whatever, that gives some guy in Yemen the right to impersonate a civilian and then indiscriminately murder a bunch of random tourists on a plan over Detroit. Yeah that makes sense. If you think mass murder of civilians is justified when committed by jihadists, is there anything they could do that you wouldn't excuse and defend?

  • K-Y||

    Is freerepublic down today?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    That is just bunk. The Congress never declared war against the Barbary Pirates. The US acted in preemptive self defense in the Caroline case. The US went into Mexico after P[a]ncho Vilia without a declaration of war. It is established international law that a country can act in both preemptive self defense and that they have a right to act against a sovereign where that sovereign refuses to control parties acting on its territory.

    The law of the land in the US is the Constitution, John, and not International Law.

    Bali is mostly Buddhist and Australian tourists. Bali is Australia's Hawaii. There were very few Americans killed in that attack. Attacking Americans was not the motivation.

    I stand corrected but it remains an entirely separate issue. We're talking about people attacking the US on US soil, not some resort in the Indian/Pacific Ocean.

    "[Spanish] [p]rosecutors allege the group, who are appearing at the National Court in Madrid, were motivated by their opposition to the presence of Spanish troops serving with international forces in Afghanistan.

    I guess I stand corrected, and wonder how does this support your case that the terrorists cannot be appeased? Spain still has troops in Afghanistan, a Muslim country last I saw...

    So because we invaded Iraq or whatever, that gives some guy in Yemen the right to impersonate a civilian and then indiscriminately murder a bunch of random tourists on a plan over Detroit.

    No, John, there is no justification for murder, but the reasons these people have are important, and the reason is that the US has troops controlling muslim countries, killing muslims and supporting tyrannical regimes in muslim countries.

    If you think mass murder of civilians is justified when committed by jihadists, is there anything they could do that you wouldn't excuse and defend?

    I don't answer loaded questions.

  • ||

    I think "justified" is maybe the wrong word. I would venture to guess that the point, with which I would agree, is that some American actions have made many people understandably angry. To say that some parties have been angry because of those actions is not to say that anyone has the right to murder civilians on a plane. It is a statement of what appears to be the reason for terrorist actions- not a justification of it. The point is that the U.S. should consider the consequences of its actions instead of looking at matters only from the American perspective. I once read a quote from a Pakistani author to the effect that the footnotes in American history books are chapter headings in the history books of other countries. What may be a minor bombing campaign to Americans may be taken as a serious threat to sovereignty to Yemenis. The U.S. should think about that whenever it engages in military action around the world.

  • ||

    "The US acted in preemptive self defense in the Caroline case. The US went into Mexico after Poncho Vilia "without a declaration of war. It is established international law that a country can act in both preemptive self defense and that they have a right to act against a sovereign where that sovereign refuses to control parties acting on its territory."

    This action was primarily viewed as illegal and immoral by many people in the U.S. and abroad

  • The Gobbler||

    "Don't twist words - Bali wasn't attacked, some hotel was attacked, that contained Americans." No, mostly Australians.

  • Kroneborge||

    Doesn't the president have 30-60 days (I can't remember which) to take military action without congresses approval?

  • oaktownadam||

    My copy of the Constitution doesn't have that exception. Does yours?

  • juris_imprudent||

    Hey, Congress passed a law. You think they'd ignore the Constitution or something?

  • ||

    Opposed to the they kill us because they hate our freedoms bubble?

    There is a diffence between not trying to make Arab lands our business, and being nice. I'm not conviced that it will matter. But the current plan isn't really working either.

  • ||

    I don't know why they want to kill us. I think it probably has something to do with them taking leave of their senses and going mad. Why did the Nazi's want to kill the Jews? Was it something they said? Some people are just fucking lunatics. We could adopt sharia law tomorrow and these clowns would still be blowing themselves up. They don't hate our freedoms. They just hate us. And no amount of wishing and self flagellation is going to change that.

  • ||

    Oh, they hate us because they are crazy? And you should know why the Nazis killed the jews, and others.

    But you bring up a good point. We have yet to figure out how to win the so called war on terrorism. Should we treat it like war until then? We've been fighting the drug war since the opium dens in the 1800s and we haven't figure out how to win that so called war. So if you want it to be war, then one shouldn't complain about extraordanry powers of the executive branch granted during war time extending into the next 100 years.

    The greatest way to increase the federal governments control over society is to use the idea of endless war.

    Terrorism = War
    War = greater fed powers.
    I thought we were more intersted in limiting the feds, not granting it extraordary war powers.

  • ||

    What do you want us to do then? Just let people blow themselves up on airplanes and tell the victims that is too bad? You may not be interested in war, but sometimes it is very interested in you.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    This is what I would suggest the US does:

    1) Get the fuck out of the Middle East, let them rot.
    2) STOP BOMBING PEOPLE - they don't seem to like it.
    3) Use mercenaries to hunt down known criminals around the world, by issuing Letters of Marque and Reprisal.
    4) Don't give away visas to radicals. The US Gov knows who they are - yet they give the visas in order to create very convenient "Reichtag Fire"-type of crisis. That's how the original 9-11 terrorists got in.

    This is the least expensive, most effective way to stop people from bombing airplanes. The other way is to stop flying, which is somewhat inconvenient. But spending billions on dropping weapons over impoverished populations is not really working, or is it?

  • ||

    I don't see any Iraqis or Afghans trying to blow up planes. And further all of the bombers and terrorists seem to come from middle class and upper class backgrounds. If this is all about Iraq, why the hell isn't there a suicide bombing campaign going on in the US involving Iraqis? The US has a large Iraqi population. Yet, they don't seem to do anything. I don't think our bombing and invading of Iraq has a God damned thing to do with it. And as far as Afghanistan goes, what the hell were we supposed to do after 9-11 when the Taliban wouldn't turn over Bin Ladin?

    You bitch and moan about using the military to go after these people, but you think mercenaries are a good idea? So we will send people out over whom we have no command and control and who have no combatant immunity and can be treated like criminals if they are caught, out all over the world to hunt down and kill "radicals" and nothing bad is going to happen? We might as well hire the mafia.

    Not letting the radicals in, sounds really good. The problem is some of the radicals are US citizens. And we don't know who all the radicals are. And even if we do know who they are and don't give them visas, they can still just walk across the Southwest Border anytime they need to. How about killing the radicals? That way we don't have to worry about keeping them out.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: John,

    I don't see any Iraqis or Afghans trying to blow up planes.

    And to think I was getting to worry . . .

    And further all of the bombers and terrorists seem to come from middle class and upper class backgrounds.

    Gee, that should tell us something about what kids are learning at school nowadays . . .

    If this is all about Iraq, why the hell isn't there a suicide bombing campaign going on in the US involving Iraqis?

    It's not aboput Iraq, John - remember that Iraq was invaded AFTER 9-11. The motivation for these people is the factr that the US has intervened in the Middle East for too long, starting with the deposing of Mossadeq in Iran in 1953, the occupation of Lebanon, the military aid given to the Saudi Government (not precisely a democratic regime), you name it.

    You bitch and moan about using the military to go after these people, but you think mercenaries are a good idea?

    It would be much better than using troops, that's for sure. Let THEM take the risk for a bonus, voluntarily. Troops are government slaves, instead.

    So we will send people out over whom we have no command and control and who have no combatant immunity and can be treated like criminals if they are caught[...]

    Why do you worry so much? If they get caught, tough. Why would you need to control them? The US just pays them after achieving the results, which would be to bring the heads of the criminals that masterminded the attacks. Your preoccupation with procedures reads as disingenuous, especially when you disdain the Constitutional mandate of issuing a Declaration of War before invading a country.

    We might as well hire the mafia.

    Well, do you think the Mafia would have been more effective in bringing in Osama Bin Laden than the US troops posted there? Because it always sounded to me as way too "convenient" that they "just missed" him by a few hours or miles or whatever other excuse they gave...

    Not letting the radicals in, sounds really good. The problem is some of the radicals are US citizens.

    If they are, they should be tried in court after evidence is gathered and presented to a DA.

  • monkeys||

    If we had hired the mafia this would all have been over a long time ago.

  • K-Y||

    "And we don't know who all the radicals are."

    and

    "How about killing the radicals? That way we don't have to worry about keeping them out."

    Do you just not see the issue?

  • ||

    I'm not on the government payroll, it's not my job to figure it out.

    It's not war or nothing. And whatever we do, I don't want to give the feds permanent war powers. Nor do I want to pretend that war allows us to kill our enemies but it's crime for them to do the same. That's pretty friggin authoritarian.

    I will say we should stand down the war rhetoric, withdraw forces, beef up the CIA and let them do what we pay them to do. The so called war on terror should be a unsung war fought under the table. We can augment the CIA with small Special Forces units when needed.

  • ||

    The Gov can prevent them from coming into the US, but it cannot attack foreign territory without a Declaration of War.

    What, never heard of the Barbary Pirates? Thomas Jefferson sent the marines and Navy after them without a declaration of war. You know, "The shores of Tripoli". Funny thing is, they were Jihadists who also were not part of a centralized state government.

    I wonder, who knows more about the Constitution, you or Thomas Jefferson? Think I will go with Jefferson.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Marshall Gill,

    What, never heard of the Barbary Pirates? Thomas Jefferson sent the marines and Navy after them without a declaration of war.

    "May 1801, the Pasha declared war on the United States, not through any formal written documents but by cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate."

    The formal government of Tripolli declared war on the US. Jefferson informed Congress on sending ships to Tripolli and Congress voted to give authorization to Jefferson to proceed. With a declaration of war from a State agaisnt the US and the authorization from Congress, a formal state of war existed between the US and Tripolli, so YES, the Congress DID declare war on Tripolli.

    Funny thing is, they were Jihadists who also were not part of a centralized state government.

    No, the pirates were government-sponsored privateers. They collected duties from foreign traders that sailed through what THEY considered THEIR waters.


    I wonder, who knows more about the Constitution, you or Thomas Jefferson? Think I will go with Jefferson.

    I don't see how he did anything that was unconstitutional - he had CAUSE, three WAS a declaration of war from Tripolli, and he received the authorization from Congress which amounted to a declaration of war. Instead, almost all interventions in the Middle East by the US have been based on falsehoods.

  • ||

    "With a declaration of war from a State agaisnt the US and the authorization from Congress, a formal state of war existed between the US and Tripolli, so YES, the Congress DID declare war on Tripolli."

    Time out. I agree with you about getting a declaration of war, but what you just described doesn't sound like one. "Amounted to a declaration" doesn't cut it with me. Either it is a declaration or it isn't.

  • Old Mexican||

    EllisWyatt,

    At least Jefferson had cause, did not rely on disinformation and downright lies, and the other government did declare war on the US. That is less problematic than simply calling it a "police action", or "going after Bin Laden" (and invading a whole country instead of actually finding the guy), or "He has weapons of mass destruction!"

    I don't like that there was no written declaration of war from Congress, but one cannot simply compare THAT with the series of illegal actions perpetrated by the US Gov this and last centuries.

  • ||

    Tripoli wasn't a State. Al-Queda has made literal declarations of war against the US. Not just by removing a flag but by saying "We declare war upon you".

    So by either of your standards we are at war.

  • ||

    """What, never heard of the Barbary Pirates?"""

    Was that a band in the 80s?

    Yet Jefferson didn't feel the need to change federal law via a P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act and subject Americans to more domestic spying.

  • ||

    My point was only in regard to the legality of the use of military force without a DoW.

    So, no, he didn't believe in inconveniencing Americans, and he believed in protecting their rights, by using the military to kill Jihadists.

  • oaktownadam||


    I don't know why they want to kill us. I think it probably has something to do with them taking leave of their senses and going mad. Why did the Nazi's want to kill the Jews?

    Some of us don't think ignorance of our enemies is a virtue. Neither did Sun Tzu.

    Perhaps you should examine why people do the things that they do. Maybe then the world will stop being such a scary place.

    Hint: The Nazis were using Jews as a scapegoat for the economic suffering caused by the Treaty of Versailles.

    Hint #2: The Nigerian on the plane from Detroit was quite explicit in his explanation of why he was motivated to attack. Perhaps you should go read before you react.

  • ||

    "STOP BEING THE FUCKING POLICEMAN OF THE WORLD AND MIND YOU OWN FUCKING BUSINESS FOR A CHANGE!!!!"

    i support this position, but mainly because of the cost - not because it would influence terrorists or change the world's opinion of us.

    jihadists are not motivated by the US interventionism. this is merely their rationalization and if they need another one, they will find it.

    for one, they have been very inconsistent regarding interventionism: bin laden complained because the US didn't intervene in bosnia soon enough. their problem is not with interventionism per se, but interventionism only insofar as it goes against their (muslim) interest.

    in addition, there are plenty of countries and people with grievances against the US foreign policy: a big part of south america, russia, serbia... china and japan, to some extent. most of them don't like the US but none of them blows up planes.

    in sum: terrorism is not caused by the US foreign policy. i used to believe that and even donated money to ron paul because of it. i was mistaken.

  • ||

    Most libertarians object to anti-discrimination laws. If you got rid of discrimination laws, you could have a real decentralized approach to security. You could let all airlines chose their own security methods but hold them strictly liable for any security breech and let the market decide.

    Some airlines could have very easy security but refuse to transport Muslims. Other airlines could transport everyone but have the standard stop frisk security measures. Others could issue all passengers weapons to defend themselves or anything in between. Let the best system win.

  • Joe M||

    Nope, too crazy. What if someone gets hurt?

  • Old Mexican||

    John,

    That would be a good start - let me market sort it out. As a matter of fact, Israel has a private security system for their airports that seems to work much better than the government-mandated, knuckle-dragging system the US has. The Israelis discovered long ago that THEIR government was not that good at keeping them safe.

  • ||

    The government can't be. The system is too big. There are too many variables. You can't be in every place at once. And no one bureaucrat is going to know how best to deal with every situation. Writing regulations is the dumbest response to it. The best response is to empower people at the ground level to stop this stuff and encourage them to do it. Despite billions spent on TSA, the actions of the passengers on the plane is the only thing that saved us on Christmas.

  • ||

    """the actions of the passengers on the plane is the only thing that saved us on Christmas.""

    That's not true, the failure of the moron to build a working device is the prime saver of life. If his bomb would have worked, things would have turn out very different.

  • oaktownadam||

    It turns out that your crotch is not a very good place to attempt exothermic chemical reactions.

  • ||

    I wonder if Acme Airtravel did no security measures and $100 domestic flights anywhere, anytime, would they stay real busy? seriously.

  • ||

    Or redneck air. No foreigners allowed, no security hassles and all of the passengers are armed.

  • monkeys||

    Red Neck Air, YES !!!

  • thumbs up||

    Who empties the spitoons?

  • ||

    """If you got rid of discrimination laws, you could have a real decentralized approach to security.""

    The KKK has been saying that for years. ;-)

    Seriously though, there are reasons why we have anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination has probably wronged more US citizens than terrorism.

    The odds are small that you will be a victim of terrorism. If you think about it, making so many of the changes we have to hedge against something of small odds sounds pretty leftist. Nannyism will probably protect more Americans than anti-terror efforts, since they focus on things that do more harm, like smoking or fatty foods.

  • ||

    Maybe 50 years ago you could make that argument. But not now. America is too diverse. You can't get away with discriminating against large numbers of people and stay in business. I fail to see what discrimination laws accomplish at this point besides enrich lawyers.

    As far as focusing on things that do more harms, you commit the fallacy of assuming that the future will be just exactly like the past. Just because there have only been a few isolated acts of terror since 9-11 says little if anything about the future. That is the nature of terrorism, you don't know when it will strike. If we knew when an attack was coming, we would just stop it. And an anthrax attack, which is frighteningly feasible, or a multiple airline attack like 9-11 is a bigger deal than high cholesterol. By your logic, the past predicts the future, an 18 year old German male in June 1914 stood almost no chance of dying a violent death in war. There hadn't been a major war in 40 years, what are the chances? A lot higher than he knew at the time.

  • ||

    Your funny.

    I've never said the past predicts the future. No one has a crystal ball. If you really believed the shit you say you would realize that you are using, what you are calling, a fallacy by claiming there are some odds that there will be an attack in the future. You are basing your belief of terrorist attacks, by past terrorist attacks.

  • The Gobbler||

    "No one has a crystal ball"

    Sure they do. You can buy them in stores like the Crystal Dolphin in Atlanta on Highland Ave.

    Of course they don't actually work.

  • ||

    There are 1000s or maybe even tens of thousands of people around the world who say they want to kill us. And they have done so in the past. They killed 2800 on 9-11, and have killed hundreds in other countries. Further, there are fairly doable ways, anthrax, biological attacks, mass hijackings, to kill a whole lot of people. And think all of that point to it being a pretty significant risk. What facts do you have beyond wishful thinking?

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    John,

    You do realize right that terrorism is very low on the "daily threats that can kill us" totem pole, right? The likelihood of getting mugged and killed by an average street thug is much higher. Even if the government was doing nothing about terrorism, fear of death by Islamic terrorism would still be far disproportionate to the risk of dying from Islamic terrorism compared to other equally horrific ends, including regular old plane crashes.

    Moreover, the costs and accumulation of government power per life saved are far disproportionate when compared with other things that kill us on a daily basis that are much cheaper to address, like drunk driving.

    For this reason, I'm a bit surprised that Reason would publish an article supporting heavy government airline security, much less ethnic and religious profiling...

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    http://reason.com/archives/200.....terrorized

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

  • ||

    ""They killed 2800 on 9-11, and have killed hundreds in other countries.""

    "" you commit the fallacy of assuming that the future will be just exactly like the past.""

    So fight with yourself if that's a fallacy and get back to us later.

  • oaktownadam||


    Seriously though, there are reasons why we have anti-discrimination laws. Discrimination has probably wronged more US citizens than terrorism.

    Indeed it has, but as libertarians, we would argue that the real problem was legal discrimination (which violated the 14th amendment) and institutionalized discrimination (mostly put in place during the "Progressive" era).

    Private discrimination is merely an extension of the right of free association. An ugly, wrong-headed extension, but we don't have to like things in order to defend people's right to do them.

  • ||

    Some airlines could have very easy security but refuse to transport Muslims.

    How about reverse Dhimmi laws? If Sharia forbids non-Muslims from owning or riding horses or camels, how about a system of laws which forbids Muslims from traveling in planes and automobiles? Muslims sure love to dish it out, but when they get a taste of their own medicine, they cry like babies...

  • Old Mexican||

    Terrorism is now a "man-caused disaster."

    Totally correct, I could not agree more with your outrage - Terrorism is NOT a "man made" disaster . . .

    . . . it's a TACTIC! That's all.

    [By the way, a man-made disaster is any big accident caused by human negligence. Acts of violence and aggression are called "Crimes". The Saul Alinksy-loving crowd sure knows how to do Orwellian-speak...]

  • ||

    "man caused disaster" means 9-11 is on the same level morally as a bridge or dam collapse. Ah not quite.

  • Old Mexican||

    Yup, that's my point. 9-11 was a CRIME, a huge one, not a "man-made disaster." That term downplays the responsibility of the aggressors.

  • ||

    Yup, that's my point. 9-11 was a CRIME, a huge one, not a "man-made disaster."

    If by crime, you mean war crime, I would agree. But it does not belong in the same category as street crime.

  • ||

    How was it a war crime? If we are at war with terrorist and they attack us, it's just war. Both sides are allowed to kill the enemy. Much like we killed civilians that support the war effort, they are killing civilians that they believe support the war effort against them. Which is anyone that supports the US.

  • The Gobbler||

    "How was it a war crime? If we are at war with terrorist and they attack us, it's just war."

    The Twin Towers were clearly a civilian target, ergo, a war crime.

  • ||

    What authority that applies says attacking civilian targets is a war crime? Most international treatys have been thrown out the window since they don't apply to terrorist.

    Was bombing dresden a war crime? Is targeting civilian houses in Iraq, Afghaninstan, and Pakistan a war crime?

  • ||

    Attacking civilian targets is a war crime. International law applies to terrorists in the sense that since they don't abide by it and dress as civilians and target civilians, they don't get the benefits of it. They are murderers not soldiers and can thus be treated however the country that catches them decides.

    Bombing Dresden probably was a war crime by modern standards. Certainly no country would do such a thing and claim it to be legal today. And I don't know what you mean by "targeting civilian houses" in Iraq. We don't indiscriminately bomb civilian houses in retaliation in Iraq.

  • ||

    How was it a war crime?

    Well, the perps weren't in uniform, for starters, so they are by definition illegal combatants.

    There was no conceivable military value to the target (although that's a very squishy one).

    Let me ask this:

    If having illegal combatants kill thousands of civilians in a sneak attack isn't a war crime, what is?

  • ||

    """International law applies to terrorists in the sense that since they don't abide by it and dress as civilians and target civilians, they don't get the benefits of it. """

    If they broke international law, then take them to the hague. Does America have jurisdiction over the world? That would be an out of control fed.

    There seems to be some disconnect about when law applies to them. When it's against them, it suppose to apply, but when it favors them, it doesn't apply.

    """Well, the perps weren't in uniform, for starters, so they are by definition illegal combatants.""

    What uniforms do the CIA wear? Are they illegal combatants?

  • ||

    """If having illegal combatants kill thousands of civilians in a sneak attack isn't a war crime, what is?"""

    I think you give the thugs too much credit by calling them combatants.

  • ||

    RC, we will never see eye to eye, because I view the war on terror the same way I view the war on drugs. It's stupid to declare war on on emotional states, and inanimate objects. We can handle the terrorist without being on a war footing. It would cost a whole lot less of our money, freedom, and life to fight it as an under the table CIA action, using small Special Forces groups as necessary. The result would be about the same.

    Nothing will end terrorists from trying to attack us. So how much do you want to pay for the outcomes?

    Besides, I don't believe in war crimes. I believe in no holds barred war.

  • ||

    We can handle the terrorist without being on a war footing.

    Perhaps. But I think the best way to view them as conducting acts of war (in some sense) against us.

    For a lot of reasons, I don't like throwing terrorists in the same box, and the same system, as drunk drivers and people who get into brawls at closing time.

    I think the best way to treat terrorists is as war criminals, such that they are legitimate targets for military action, and when apprehended, are subject to military justice.

  • ||

    Why not just let the CIA kill them in their training camps? Why subject them to any justice?

    I'm opposed to creating a permanant war footing that drags down OUR civil liberties, and reasonable abilities. Like the ability to take a piss 45 minutes before the plane lands. Or keeping government snoopers out of innocent American's business.

    But no war crime if no war. If you support it as a war effort, you support the dragging down of liberties that the war footing allows by proxy. You can't have it both ways.

    Never ending war is anti-freedom and the war on terror will not end.

  • ||

    ""Perhaps. But I think the best way to view them as conducting acts of war (in some sense) against us.""

    Maybe we are not that far apart on the issue. Is my idea of it being an under the table war with the CIA close to your some sense of war?

    My issues are not so much the treatment of terrorist as it is what we have done to our liberties and freedoms in the name of fighting terror as a war.

  • anonymous||

    How many people does a deranged shooter have to off before he gets to negotiate a cease-fire in exchange for foreign aid?

  • oaktownadam||


    If by crime, you mean war crime, I would agree.

    By definition, war can only be waged between states.

    Terrorists lack a state, and therefore their actions are crimes, not acts of war.

  • These Clowns||

    We could adopt sharia law tomorrow and these clowns would still be blowing themselves up.

    Well, yes. But we'd be a lot happier doing it.

  • ||

    95% of the victims killed by Muslim terrorists have been muslims.

  • ||

    A lot of people don't get that.

  • Kroneborge||

    For those that suggest we get out of the Middle East, I hope you are in favor of all efforts to get us off of oil.

    Because until that happens, I can ASSSURE you that we will never be out of there.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Kroneborge,

    The US gets most of her oil from Canada and Mexico. Leaving the Middle East would not automatically amount to losing the supply of oil, since those states would not simply stop selling it (you cannot eat oil).

    It also reads as callousness to suggest that the US keep tyrannical regimes proped up just to keep the oil flowing, with no regard for the populations that have to endure such regimes. You should read "Dune" just to give you an idea of what happens to empires that maintain tyrannical regimes in power just to keep certain goods flowing, when normal commerce would have taken care of that with not a drop of blood shed.

  • Kroneborge||

    Do you really not know that oil is a global market, and that the price of oil is set globally?

    OPEC ring a bell?

    Anyway, I agree that it is callous what we are doing, that wasn't my point. Instead I said that if you support us getting our of the Middle East (which I would like to see happen) then the ONLY way that will happen is for us to get off of oil.

    Otherwise we will always keep our hands in the cookie jar.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    We *could* drill for oil on our turf, if it weren't for the Chads of the world...

  • Al Gore||

    HERETIC!!! BURN HIM, MY CHILDREN!!!

  • K-Y||

    The middle east supplies China with 58% of its oil imports. Do you attribute that to Chinese air bases?

  • ||

    Get us off oil? That's hippie liberal talk.
    ;-)

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    When people make a big deal out of the relatively minor threat of terrorism, are we not giving terrorists exactly what they want - attention and chaos? AbdulMutallab may not have succeeded in blowing up the airplane, but he did succeed in shaming the US government, scaring the entire public and throwing the whole system in disarray.

  • ||

    We handed AQ most of the results they wanted. yeah, they didn't get to blow up the plane, but they got the US to scramble and promote fear and greater federal scrutiny of it's own citizens.

    While the bomb failed, then general crux of the mission (terrorize) was a success.

  • Old Mexican||

    The terrorists won. It is now Americans that live under a tyranny. See how that feels!

  • ||

    "When people make a big deal out of the relatively minor threat of terrorism, are we not giving terrorists exactly what they want - attention and chaos?"

    but their goal is not 'attention and chaos'. their goal is for all of us to become muslims and change our laws and behavior accordingly. why is that so hard to understand?

    so, no, regardless of how ridiculous our government's reaction was, it was definitively **not** what they wanted. they want us to fear them and, consequently, do what they want us to do. airport security rituals is not something they want, unless they involve praying to alah and dressing in burkhas.

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    But...we...DO fear them. Irrationally. The entire government overreaction is based in irrational fear. They didn't cause any bloodshed in this incident, but they did ruin a lot of peoples' holidays and cause a huge government crackdown on our liberties. For one thankfully incompetent man to so shake the system, that's still a pretty astonishing feat.

  • Cata||

    "The entire government overreaction is based in irrational fear."

    no, it's not based on fear. government's reaction is based on desire to appear to be "doing something" - it's an opportunistic move that likely misreads the public sentiment, which is probably more anger than fear. it not based on a true fear - the governing class doesn't really understand the danger involved and doesn't fear it; it sees it as a nuisance that can jeopardize their careers.

    "They didn't cause any bloodshed in this incident, but they did ruin a lot of peoples' holidays and cause a huge government crackdown on our liberties."

    again, they only care about our holidays and liberties insofar as they are incompatible with islam. the fact that they were merely disrupted without being brought in the line with their religion does not count as an accomplishment.

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    Do you have any evidence to demonstrate your thesis that they only care about imposing sharia law and Islam on us and that causing chaos and destruction are merely secondary byproducts of that mission but not the goal? What's the point of sending people to blow up planes full of civilians if is unsuccessful at making us all convert to Islam? 9-11 must have been a big failure for them...

  • thumbs up||

    Re: Cata|1.6.10 @ 7:20PM|no, it's not based on fear. government's reaction is based on desire to appear to be "doing something"

    Which is based on the fear of looking wimpish and the fear of being criticized... therefore it IS fear based, though not irrational from the government (i.e. the system's) viewpoint.

    In any case, "they win" and "we lose" freedoms.

  • ||

    Mr. Harsanyi, You are correct that "Islam is not a race." However, how would you guess which passenger on a plane is Islamic? They aren't all brown, but surely you weren't suggesting that.

    Also, if a black or Asian person were plotting to blow up an airplane and were taken aside for "random screening" and asked which religion they were, would they tell the truth?

    Of course, we could always ban all international flights into the United States and have a police state with biometric ID cards. That would keep us safe.

    Bug off.

  • ||

    The problem is that only poorly trained, amateurish terrorists are caught by security.

    A team of professional operatives could cross the Mexican border and blow up half the Houston Airport. If we can't stop middle aged fat Latinas with kids from sneaking in by the thousands, how can we kid ourselves into believing we really have much in the way of security?

    Then there is the Canadian border........

  • Kroneborge||

    +1

  • Hobo Chang Ba||

    Please list the number of terrorists that have come to America and caused acts of terrorism due to the ease of crossing the border illegally.

    I really think you are overrating the threat here. Is your scenario possible? Yes. Hell, maybe some radicalized Muslim could walk into a military base and start killing dozens of soldiers. Should we do everything we can to prevent every single possible terrorist attack anywhere? We can do our best, but even were we to impose completely closed borders and an Orwellian police state, the potential threat of terrorism would still exist. Terrorism is a tragedy for the victim, as is any crime of random violence, but I just think we overrate the threat of terrorism.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    He's overrating? I don't think so. I think you may have missed his point.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    Obama went on to talk about the "crushing poverty" of Yemen, insinuating that neediness is a root of man-caused disasters....

    So does this mean we get to lock Obama up for perpetrating "crushing poverty" on future Americans?

    Bush was bad. Obama is clearly worse.

    Tell me the fucking MSM isn't liberal-democrat again. They not only give this boy a great big pass on whatever he does, they help him along.

  • Ebeneezer Scrooge||

    btw David, good article.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Michael Yon links:

    http://politicallore.com/blog/?p=902

    http://blogs.seattleweekly.com.....orresp.php

    Yep, making America safer by asking bullshit questions. Good job, Janet!

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp. I'm not concerned that Mr. Crumb will go to hell or anything crazy like that! It's just that he, like many types of religionists, seems to take it literally, take it straight...the Bible's books were not written by straight laced divinity students in 3 piece suits who white wash religious beliefs as if God made them with clothes on...the Bible's books were written by people with very different mindsets...

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