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No, no, no! The incentive is wrong. The inspector's rational response would be to open and intensly ispect the contents of every single carry-on bag. The resulting lines and incovenience would be intolerable. The right answer is to base, say, 50% of the bonus on bomb-finding and 50% on processing time per passenger.

I want Conrad on my management team. Tom is too used to getting paid by the word when he free-lanced.

Another thing that would speed efficiency is to reduce the number of searches of unlikely suspects, like military personnel and white-haired white people (exactly zero of whom have been involved in terrorist bombings and hijacking plots), and engage in--horror of horrors!--profiling. Profiling is a proven law-enforcement technique; the only reason we don't use it is political correctness.

Who to profile--do you really have to ask?

All I know is, these secret-shoppers better get some great benefits, to allow themselves to get tackled and have M16s pointed at them every time they're found out.

Not to mention the year or two they're going to have to wait in prison before the government clears them.

Whom shall we profile? How about former soldiers who've been awarded the Bronze Star. That MIGHT have netted Timothy McVeigh at the truck rental joint. If we could only get gang-bangers, drug lords, lefty bombers and right wing survivalists to wear turbans, Homeland security would be a snap.

As bad as I hate to do this, I have to agree with Squid on this one. When was the last time a U.S. plane was hijacked by any of the groups you mentioned, Wally?

If they were looking for a serial killer, I would expect to be looked at, because I fit the profile. When you're trying to prevent airline hijackings, you should probably look at the people who have been doing that. Namely, 20-40 year old Muslim males.

However, if the FBI is watching groups that they think may strike within the country, I would be pissed if they weren't watching the fringe groups you mentioned, like the whacko survivalist and militia members.

If McVeigh had thought of a box cutter and a plane crash he would have tried it. My point is that extremists willing to kill for their beliefs are hard to profile. I don't want Squeaky Fromm to slip through while everybody's looking for Sirhan Sirhan.

As they say in diagnostics: "when you see hoof prints, think horses not zebras." For every Tim McVeigh there are how many jihadis? Thousands? Tens of thousands?

I should also have pointed out that profiling by race / religion alone is not the perfect solution. However, add in behavioral profiling, and then you're getting somewhere. Watch for people who are nervous, sweating heavily, who avoid eye contact, etc. These are people with something to hide.

Of course, they may also just be scared shitless about the prospect of hurtling through the air in a small, metal tube, but you get my point.

What we see in Wally's mindless remark is typical of the anti-American left. It's the same mentality that fuels the 9/11 conspiracy theorists who find it more plausible that their own government would murder its own citizens than to think that the Other--those who are not like us and are not part of us--would commit such a heinous act.

As Frank mentioned, none of those groups have hijacked airplanes. In fact, there are only two groups that have engaged in large-scale suicide attacks. One was the Japanese, when, in desparation, they sent small numbers of military men after military targets during a declared war. The other are the Moslems, who send young men, and now women and children, to maim and murder civilians. If Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Jains, Zoroastrians, etc. were to do the same, they would be roundly condemned by their coreligionists. What is the Moslems' reaction to suicide bombing? Celebration and adulation.

Also, as Conrad pointed out (in a different way), one data point does not a trend make. We will never have a foolproof system; humans are incapable of perfection. However, when one identifiable group poses a known threat, and that threat is largely preventable by increased scrutiny, it is irresponsible not to take extra measures to protect the public at large by subjecting that group to different standards.

Of course, the anti-Americans see this as "racism!™" even though Moslems are not a race, or "discrimination!™" even though discriminating between that which is helpful and that which is harmful is indispensible to not just survival but also prosperity.

Okay, mindless I can live with. We all know I am not the sharpest tool in the shed from the way my arguments are so easily refuted by deftly marshaled citations. But linking me with the nut-jobs who call the World Trade Center bombings a Bush/Cheney plot is your imagination running wild, not mine.

I do not underestimate the jihadist threat. Two attacks on the WTC are testament to their designs, but please do look at the hoof prints. Your bias has led you to look for threats from primarily Islamic suicide attacks using 9/11 as a model. Puerto Ricans with machine guns in the Capitol Chambers, The Unibomber, the anthrax mailings, the Oklahoma City Courthouse bombing, the WTC parking garage bombing and most recently and most horrifically 9/11 show an evolving threat from within and without, all acts of terrorism, all motivated by ideology, political or religious. Spain and Britain had the Islamic train bombings but they know that Basque separatists and until recently, the IRA were at least equally likely to wreak havoc. We need our security agencies to look at terrorism rather than just jihadist terrorism. My personal guess is that the next attempt will be jihadist and come from an American-born or European convert to Islam, most likely a fair-haired woman who has married and converted and will follow her jihadist husband's will with true wifely obedience. But that's just my guess. It is equally likely that some lefty nut will attempt to bring the world into his twisted view of balance by attempting to assassinate the President, an act of terrorism that should be too heinous to even contemplate in a functioning democracy. Though it may not seem like it, especially on some topics, my opinions have been shaped, tempered and yes, even changed by your insights. By only looking to win an argument one can miss the opportunity to apply the bright light of critical thinking to concepts that have ossified in one's own mind.

Wally? Is that you?

Tom! Are you trying to pull my leg here?

Wally, I just can't take you seriously after your repeated calumnies against me. Nothing I've said is remotely Nazi-like, yet you continue to slander me.

Yes, security, especially airport security, must be multifaceted. Yes, as Frank mentioned (and as Israeli security has known for ages), behavioral profiling is indispensible. What I'm saying is that profiling, far from being a bad thing, is a good thing. Yeah, too bad for you if you fit the profile. Your inconvenience is a small price to pay for your life, and the lives of those who fly with you.

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