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August 11, 2006

Schwarzenegger’s security theater
Posted by Teresa at 11:33 PM * 50 comments

New heights of fake-security folly have been achieved in California, where Governor Schwarzenegger has ordered 300 members of the National Guard to cool their heels for a week or more at San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego airports.

This is supposedly in response to a recent terrorist plot discovered in London, which plot wouldn’t have been stopped by having National Guardsmen hanging about at the airports. Gov. Schwarzenegger hasn’t yet explained what kind of terrorist attacks he does expect will require this level of staffing.

Comments on Schwarzenegger's security theater:
#1 ::: TheSquire ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 12:37 AM:

Since Bush already has the National Guard on the Mexican Border, Schwarzenegger needed to send his Guardsmen somewhere else to do a photo op for himself.

#2 ::: Rebecca ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 01:00 AM:

good job of hitting the liberal strongholds...

#3 ::: W. H. Heydt ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 02:06 AM:

Actually...the Governator pushed back against Bush. Bush wanted more Guard for the Border and Schwartzenegger refused on the grounds that they were needed for other tasks.

While haveing them patrolling the distant parking lots (from what I've heard that's what they'll be doing at SFO) is absurd, it does make his case against Bush's desire for more of them on the border.

#4 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 02:27 AM:

which plot wouldn't have been stopped by having National Guardsmen hanging about at the airports

They could hang out in the baggage conveyor area and shoot on site anyone caught rummaging through the luggage. At least they'd be doing something productive.

#5 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 03:22 AM:

and shoot on site anyone caught rummaging through the luggage

They would have difficulty doing it anywhere else.

Yes, nobody is safe with copyeditors in the room. They would insist, for instance, on a stylebook standard spelling of "al-Qaeda."

#6 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 04:34 AM:

A part of the chaos at UK airports is down to a shortage of staff able to do the extra security work.

This particular action seems pretty pointless, but if it lets the airport shift trained security personnel from an area the National Guard can cover, it's maybe worth it.

On the other hand, we all know what experienced prison staff can end up doing while they serve in the National Guard, so we maybe shouldn't assume basic compoetence in either the TSA or the California National Guard.

#7 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 06:00 AM:

Pataki's doing the same thing.

In the mean time, they're apparently confident enough that there's no real danger all those bottles of hand lotion and diet coke are really explosives that one airport is donating them to the homeless and Pennsylvania is going to sell them on EBay.

#8 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 07:36 AM:

This is nothing. In Boston, Governor Romney, reluctantly taking time off from his campaigning in New Hampshire, has (according to a news story I saw yesterday; I haven't personally confirmed it yet) ordered all Silver Line express busses to the airport to be stopped and searched by bomb-sniffing dogs.

#9 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 09:49 AM:

Here is the story.

Correction to previous post: "The MBTA" is said to have mandated this, not Romney.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Dave Bell: I think the California National Guard is mostly competent, but I also think they're doing this with unloaded guns. At least, the guns were unloaded the last time they got airport duty.

#11 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 10:18 AM:

Not related to this particular incident, but my skepticism suddenly increased thousandfold this morning.

Turns out that the tip-off for the "thwarting of the plot" came from Pakistan, in the form of, er, "debriefing" of a suspect arrested there.

Now... if the suicide tapes I have been hearing about surface, I am going to believe this "plot". Otherwise, this is just some poor bugger trying to give his tortures what they want - including the names of all his British friends.

Oh, and the other reason for my skepticism - apparently one of the plotters, the medical student, was a Pratchett fan. Now, why is it that I can imagine my neighbours wanting to blow me up, but I can't hold in my head at the same time reading Pratchett and blowing yourself up with a planeful of people?

#12 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 10:36 AM:

And, of course, deploying the Guard risks causing incidents.

#13 ::: Kent State University ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Now really, Randolph, what kind of incident could possibly happen? These Guardsmen (and women) are trained professionals, after all.

#14 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Add that to 700 at the border, and about 15 percent of the Calif. Guard is now deployed, instate, for non-emergencies.

I'm not sure just how many are deployed overseas right now, but it's not trivial, and there are another few dozen deployed in state for supoort of those being deployed overseas.

So not less than 25 percent (and maybe more) are presently sidelined.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about the fire season, or an earthquake (with say, a burst dam) or a broken levee on the Sacramento River.

Needless to say, when the call for volunteers came out, I didn't.

#15 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 11:51 AM:

P J: I don't know what stretch of Aiport Duty you are thinking of. The one that ran from Sep 2001 had loaded guns.

An airman managed to shoot himself in the thigh when (improperly) returning it to the holster, after improperly clearing it.

The guys I know who had 16s were issued ammo. I don't know what the local conditions were on amber/red (being the difference between in the well, and in the chamber) but they all had rounds in the magazines, and magazines in the weapons.

#16 ::: Bill Leisner ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 12:05 PM:

Gov. Schwarzenegger hasn't yet explained what kind of terrorist attacks he does expect will require this level of staffing.

Why, evil cyborgs from the future, of course!!

#17 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 01:35 PM:

I'm so glad I live in California, where the Guard is there to--what?--shoot water bottles and wrestle hand lotion to the ground?

Oakland Airport apparently said "thanks but no thanks" to the troops, but I imagine that SFO is crawling with Guard. Since at this point no terrorist worth his salt is going to bother with liquid explosives (which are so five minutes ago) I'm not sure what they're going to be looking for now. C4 in fruit-leather packaging, maybe. "Hey, kid. Step away from the granola bar and assume the position." I feel so safe.

#18 ::: Ashni ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Turns out that the tip-off for the "thwarting of the plot" came from Pakistan, in the form of, er, "debriefing" of a suspect arrested there.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the tip came from a Muslim civilian (in Britain) who noticed an acquaintance acting suspiciously. After that, they just did a lot of legwork, which is the way these things are supposed to happen.

If someone is now claiming they got this from "debriefing," I'd suspect them of trying to take advantage of the situation to push their own agenda. Except, of course, that that would never happen.

#19 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Terry: I bow to your superior knowlege. (Actually, I think it was one of the previous alerts that had the Guard out in the airports. But I wasn't keeping track of all the stuff going on, it gets depressing.)

#20 ::: Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Ashni, I've heard both rumors, but the suspect arrested in Pakistan was named in this morning's edition of the Indipendent (as Rashid Rauf). They repeatedly give the story as certain. Of course, at this stage it could be ought or nought.

#21 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 02:33 PM:

Oakland Airport apparently said "thanks but no thanks" to the troops

Oh, good. What with this nonsense and having to check my luggage in, I'd been wondering if I'd make it to LAcon at all.

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 03:05 PM:

Will Arnold himself be patrolling, complete with oversized handgun?

#23 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Lisa, I've been reading the TSA page and it doesn't look like they're banning carry-ons for flights originating in the US, at least ones not going to the UK. It looks like the only things banned are liquids. And gels. And lotions (which are suspensions). And colloids. (no deodorant in your carry-on, though exploding deodorant is almost humorous to think about).

#24 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 05:04 PM:

No deodorant, no lipstick, no chapstick or carmex, no mascara, no lip gloss, no liquid or cream foundation, no Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab imps (perfume in tiny sample vials), no all sorts of things.

[makes a note to self to remember this when packing for Worldcon]

#25 ::: Evil Minion ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Can anyone explain why all the heightened security just after the plot has been foiled and the participants arrested? From what I've read, this investigation was going on for a long time and a lot of people were aware of it - yet, no extra precautions were taken before the arrests.

If you knew some people were planning to rob you, would you wait until after they were arrested, and then lock up your valuables?

It almost makes me wonder if all this extra hoop-te-doodle has some other purpose...

#26 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 05:25 PM:

It almost makes me wonder if all this extra hoop-te-doodle has some other purpose...

When are the airlines going to forbid bringing water on the plane, and instead, selling you designer water at $3 a pop?

Nah... dystopian fantasy, right?

#27 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 06:28 PM:

It almost makes me wonder if all this extra hoop-te-doodle has some other purpose...

Well, we're not talking about how a three-term senator lost to a neophyte in a primary election the other day.

We're also not talking about a report to Congress that says the current administration is basically a gang of lawbreakers.

#28 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 07:09 PM:

The way to make an airport safer is not to fill it with bored people with rifles. Esp. if some fucking idiot has given them orders to carry chambered rounds.

#29 ::: Dave Keck ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 07:12 PM:

Hi guys --

Lemme do the devil's advocate dance for a moment:

If the intention of bombing plots is to knock the morale of the target populace, then any action which positively influences that morale is a direct counter-attack. (ie. A false sense of security is the best antidote to an exaggerated threat?)

While such moves may seem to be little more than publicity stunts, publicity may just be the name of the game.

While calling out the national guard is a vaguely reasonable PR move on a local, tactical level, I can't help but wish that the west was doing a better job playing such games on a strategic, global level. We seem very slow to recognize that our economic and political decisions provoke desperation and outrage among our neighbours, providing plenty of fuel to radical movements.

It seems to me that actions like propping up dictatorships to promote stability and expanding the more ruthless brands of economic exploitation were once practical effective (if immoral). When distances were great and individuals nearly powerless, an unscrupulous foreign policy could treat people on the other side of the world very badly. Now, however, I feel as though we need to behave more politely with our neighbours. There are no far corners of this world.

I've mumbled this elsewhere, but we're getting close to the MADness of the old cold warriors these days: a time where everyone can be dangerous and we must be careful about who we provoke.

Stick a few guys with machine guns in the airports to make the populace feel like you're on the ball. Okay. Although it may create more fear than it allays, at least the right game is being played. Maybe we can start to play a better PR game overseas fewer people would be worried about coming after us.

~D

#30 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 07:18 PM:

If the intention of bombing plots is to knock the morale of the target populace, then any action which positively influences that morale is a direct counter-attack

Okay, then these actions are a failure. They increase the fear level of the population, and they dramatically increase the risk of harm.

People become nervous when they are surrounded by people with automatic weapons. THIS IS THE POINT.


#31 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 08:25 PM:

"Can anyone explain why all the heightened security just after the plot has been foiled and the participants arrested?"

My guess is that they knew that if they tried to quietly institute all these precautions beforehand the precautions would get a lot of publicity; that would alert the bad guys, and they didn't want to compromise sources and methods.

That's what they'd tell you if you asked, anyway.

#32 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 08:29 PM:

Eric:

Sometimes. I, for one, don't get nervous just because people around me are carrying automatic weapons.

I didn't do it when I saw in in the Frankfort am Main airport back in 97, and I don't do it now, when I see it in Denver.

The former actually made me feel a trifle safer, in that I trusted the polezei to not screw up, and attacks in Rome were of a sort to be prevented (or at least stopped in progress) by people who could shoot back.

Which is why I don't feel any safer for people with M-16s in US airports, because we've not seen evidence of people wanting to do things which a perimeter defense is going to stop.

But the mere fact of those Guardsmen having ammo, makes no difference. In fact, if they are going to have weapons, I feel safer if they have ammo, because to not have any is to present a false image of potential, which means someone who takes those guns into account when planning an attack is going to assume they have rounds, and them not having any will make it worse.

Think of the effect the Marines in Beiruit having ammo in their guard posts might have made (they were without so much as magazines, and the bombers knew it).

#33 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 08:33 PM:

If the intention of bombing plots is to knock the morale of the target populace, then any action which positively influences that morale is a direct counter-attack.

Speaking, I suspect, for more than a few others, I don't find that security theater positively influences my morale at all. Queueing in pointless lines bums me out. Having to arrive at the airport frickin' three hours before my flight irks the crap out of me, especially knowing it's utterly futile. Having my time wasted so Really Stupid People can allegedly feel better is infuriating enough to make me crabby for days. No, what would be a lot more useful to public morale than putting a bunch of guardsmen on display in airports would be treating terrorism like any other deadly but unlikely threat to my safety and putting it in the context of its real threat level, not hyping it up and reifying the message of the terrorists that they really are scary and omnipresent by trotting out a military display dumb show.

For further thoughts along these lines, I highly recommend this episode of The Show by zefrank, and the subsequent one from 8/11. You do have to get past the goat blowing bit on the first one, but I think it's very worth it.

#34 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 08:38 PM:

Lucy,

We had to call the fire department when I was a teenager, because my brother's deodorant had spontaneously caught fire under his bed. They put it out quickly and calmly, being competent professionals; but deodorants can ignite on their own on a warm afternoon.

Terry, I can only hope that having the National Guard on duty at the airports will make it possible to quickly get them where they're needed in case of an earthquake or wildfire; does the Air National Guard have facilities at or near SFO and LAX?

#35 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 09:25 PM:

Vicki: The Air Guard can make use of any airport which can accomodate the planes, subject to the ability to commandeer access, which means LAX, SFO, Oakland, and similar major airports are all out of bounds.

For the most part that doesn't mean much, because local units get the callup. It would take a major disaster to cause a full call-up, and that would, usually, involve local units in the immediate aftermath/development, and convoys for follow-on.

But the guys at the airports, and down on the border, are out of the loop. They are on orders and those orders have to be broken before they can be ordered somewhere else.

Ulrika is right, this is a waste of time and resources, scores a win for the terrorists and while it may have a short term gain in morale; in the long run it backfires, because there will be other plots (and some of them will come to fruition) and people will lose faith in the gov't, which will increase the fear, which is a positive feedback loop.

This is a criminal problem, not a military one. The sooner that's internalised, the better off we will all be.

#36 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 09:55 PM:

Maybe the security theater is because Ahnold is up for (re)election in November, and the mostly-conservative-Republicans need to be reassured that he's not a liberal (by their very strange standards).

Election year politics.

#37 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 10:24 PM:

From:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14320452/

Source: U.S., U.K. at odds over timing of arrests

"British wanted to continue surveillance on terror suspects, official says

LONDON - NBC News has learned that U.S. and British authorities had a significant disagreement over when to move in on the suspects in the alleged plot to bring down trans-Atlantic airliners bound for the United States.

A senior British official knowledgeable about the case said British police were planning to continue to run surveillance for at least another week to try to obtain more evidence, while American officials pressured them to arrest the suspects sooner. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case."

#38 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2006, 10:46 PM:

Some of the reports from the UK are saying that (a) these guys hadn't gotten as far as plane tickets yet; (b) some of them hadn't even gotten passports yet; and (c) the UK authorities were getting word of news leaks in the US.

Gee, I wonder where the news leaks were coming from. Was it Rove or Cheney's office?

#39 ::: Dave Keck ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 10:46 AM:

To Ulrika and Erik:

I suppose my notion is that a move like S's was at least playing the same PR game as the opposition. (I think I allowed that the move may have been more-or-less successful).

Here was my thinking:

When Western powers attacked a relatively diffuse international radical movement with tactics that might have been better suited to toppling a nation state, they provoked ill-feeling and drove more and more of the majority in the region to support (or join) their radical opposition.

If Western counter-terrorism efforts are to succeed, the West must fight the right battle: wherever possible, they must reduce the motivation of those who oppose them. They must urge the majority away from the radicals. (And this might require a close look at how Western policies affect the lives of our neighbour nations out East).

I do not imagine that it's possible to utterly remove the ideological differences that will drive some people to extremism (even domestically). But the West might be clever enough to move such extremist to the lunatic fringe.

While I might argue that beefing up apparent security is probably not the best move, it is a PR play. And that is the game.

#40 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 01:29 PM:

Lucy says: It looks like the only things banned are liquids. And gels. And lotions (which are suspensions). And colloids. (no deodorant in your carry-on, though exploding deodorant is almost humorous to think about).

Well, but usually I can make the Bay Area/LA run with only a carry-on. So this means I'll have to get to the airport something like three hours early, because everyone will be checking baggage, and the line will be insane.

And I can just see trying to get on the plane with the stuff I'm bringing to Worldcon -- "You're bringing this book because you want someone to sign their name on it? But why? And these other books are because you want to give them away? Why would you want to do that?"

#41 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 02:39 PM:

While I might argue that beefing up apparent security is probably not the best move, it is a PR play. And that is the game.

There is no conceivable way that a publicity stunt will "urge the moderates away from the radicals" or "reduce the motivation" of the opposition. Indeed, redeploying the entire 82nd Airborne at America's airports, with a squadron of mounted dragoons each for TV presence, wouldn't do it, because it's over here, not where the problems are. Reducing their motivation would require foreign policy to deal with grievances, even if those grievances cannot be entirely redressed.

There is no doubt that some of the opposition will never compromise, and indeed the "moderates" must be dealt with -- by definition, they're the only people you can move. But that would require giving them a place to move to, and offering only your own vision of perfection isn't a compromise and it isn't diplomacy. It's a demand, whatever name the public relations department puts on it. And PR has absolutely no power over someone who's seen his daughter's wedding shattered by mortar fire. If that happened to you, would a meaningless gesture in a country far away leave you satisfied?

And in the end, security theater isn't even PR for potential foreign allies (never mind the opposition), because they know damn well it doesn't mean anything. The Iraqis and the Lebanese have real combat troops, with loaded guns and very broad permission to use them, in their streets. Do you really think they give a rat's ass that we have a few guys at an airport, where, if there is a live-fire situation, 99% of the people in the zone will be innocents? A bullet can run the length of a concourse faster than anybody can think.

"Apparent security" is always crap. It does nothing about the problem, and wastes resources that could be applied to something that at least might work. Its only goal is, indeed, PR -- not for "potential allies," but to convince your own citizens that you're doing something when you aren't. And it carries with it the assumption that those citizens are too stupid to know the difference -- or that their lives don't really matter in the first place.

As a "game," the one it most resembles is called Chicken.

#42 ::: Sylvia Sotomayor ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 02:46 PM:

Me, I'm buying stock in UPS and Fedex.

I flew to OHare on Monday, through Dallas, which was shut down for 1/2 an hour due to a storm. So, it's no surprise that my checked luggage didn't find me until 24 hours later. Flying home, no flight problems, but again, my luggage didn't show up.

Since most of the time I am flying on business to a hotel, from now on I will pack a box (or two) with everything I'll need and send it to the hotel overnight or 2-day air. I'm sure my boss will allow that as a business expense. Besides, the box is insurable.

Doesn't solve the issue of overseas vacation travel, though.

-S

#43 ::: cmk ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 03:36 PM:

from now on I will pack a box (or two) with everything I'll need and send it to the hotel overnight or 2-day air.

I don't know why it took that direct reference to jog my memory, but it was only a few weeks ago that I caught an interview on KPFA with a travel writer who was then recommending sending one's luggage ahead by Fedex, on the grounds that the traveler's time (once you'd added it up on both ends) was worth more than the charges involved.

Granted, as has been pointed out, the inspection of one's person for carryon will lessen the advantage in time saved.

#44 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 04:06 PM:

This year was the first time I checked luggage to go to Mpls. The other years I'd shipped stuff via Fedex for less than $30 each way (with a USAA-Fedex account). Considering I'm disabled, it seemed a reasonable price for a week's trip.

Going through Dulles I've mostly used wheelchairs & pushers but sometimes have felt up to walking (and resting in chairs along the way). From now on, wheelchairs only.

#45 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 08:28 PM:
Why, evil cyborgs from the future, of course!!

Considering who we're talking about, more probably Sarah Conner.

#46 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 08:57 PM:

The evil cyborgs from the future are missing a bet by not loading their durochromalloy exodipulators with popular soft drinks and paperbacks of literary merit (Penguin Classics would be cool) and shuttling between London and New York. They could make a bundle (I very nearly said "a bomb," but that's not the idea, is it?) and get tons of frequent-flier miles which they could use to visit popular cyborg resort locations, like the Ginza and Saab plants.

So we'll know they're from the future, they should probably dress in the uniforms Mary Quant designed for Braniff and speak with BBC accents. "We have been monitoring your broadcasts for many years. This parrot is deceased! It has ceased to be!"

#47 ::: Dave Keck ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2006, 10:21 PM:

Ford is right that governments have been posturing for their home crowds for a long time. (And we have all seen nations driven into war and worse by such inward-looking foreign policies).

My hope was that somewhere, someday a government might finally extend the principle.

When I talked publicity stunt, I was hoping to drag in "cynical" ploys such as responsibility in foreign trade, the avoidance of close alliances with the world's more brutal dictatorships, steering clear of high-handed brute force activity, etc.. Treating the citizens of other nations with respect is the kind of "stunt" I intended to imply.

It may be that I'm excessively cute when I pretend that PR ploys like checking bags at the opera or sending the infantry to the airports are really playing that game (no matter how badly).

In my mind, the problem is that most Western goverments haven't realized that they're fighting for the public opinion of their opponents... and that they are losing.

~D

#48 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 03:10 AM:

Dave Keck: The problem with the PR you are saying scores in the plus column is that the way it's working, that plus is to the bad guys (and there may be more than one set of bad guys benefitting from it).

It makes the terrorists look more capable/pervasive than they are. That encourages them.

It makes people more afraid, which makes it easier for the authoritarian types to impinge on our liberties.

What we ought to be doing is ignoring it, and ignoring it with blatant nonchalance. Dean Ing wrote a book, back in the early '80s, (IIRC) called Soft Targets, where a television newman got the idea of making terrorists laughingstocks. Of not being afraid of them, but ridiculing them.

I thought it a pretty good idea then, and I think it a damned good idea now. If they were ignored, they'd lose a lot of the power they have, because there wouldn't be the terror they want to induce.

FDR said it, "The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself."

#49 ::: Dave Keck ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 09:58 AM:

Terry,

I agree that most of what gets defined as "security theatre" has a corrosive effect on morale.

All I'd hoped to say was that, although "security theatre" might be cynical and misguided, such ploys are engaging with the enemy in the struggle for public opinion.

It seems to me that, when a government realizes that it's playing for public opinion and not fighting for trenches and machine gun nests, we might have a first glimmer of a functional strategy.

Of course, my thesis hangs on the vain hope that a Western power will recognize that it's the enemy it's trying to win over.

I think it's fair to say that, for a very long time now, the foreign policies of the Western powers have provoked outrage and dispair in many quarters of the world. I'm hoping we might take more intelligent and farther reaching action to reduce such strong negative feelings (because they are so dangerous).

My contention: Be nice and cut the legs out from under the radicals.

(What as altruism, cynicism and socialism merge).

#50 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2006, 10:28 AM:

I'm de-lurking to report that I just flew from Chicago Midway to Oakland and back (arrived Chicago late last night). Airport security lines at both ends had normal delays (20 minutes - typical for mid-day) and I can confirm that the National Guard was not at Oakland.

My suspicion is that our terrorist "friends" are dreaming of a lithium-fueled laptop bomb.

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