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Shedding some light on airline security

Katie Palmitier | Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I admit it, I’m afraid of the dark. When I was younger there would be occasions when I needed to stay home alone or had to babysit my little brother and sister. In these situations, I would turn on every light in the house. I truly believed that a robber or a “bad guy” would not go near my house if it were well lit. Yet I now know that turning on all the lights was not keeping me safe; my illuminating house was screaming that I was young, home alone and scared. U.S. Homeland Security is currently turning on all the lights in America. This false sense of security and display of fear needs to be turned off and light needs to be shed upon areas where our national security is truly at risk.

The public has always complained about airport security. Recently, security restrictions at the airport were updated after the discovery of explosives at Heathrow Airport. So now not only do we have to remove all shoes, belts, jewelry and wallets, we also must consolidate all carry-on liquids into a one-quart sized plastic bag. While these new regulations increase complaints and create hassles for vacationers and business men and women, they provide a sense of security for all fliers, as well as the rest of America: we find comfort in the fact that, because these irritating, tedious restrictions are in place, there must be no way a terrorist could possibly board an aircraft. But our enemies do not even have to go on a plane to cause harm. In a recent CBS News special, a two-month investigation discovered that five out of six major airlines did not x-ray or open cargo, cargo that could possibly contain a bomb or other explosive device, and cargo that could possibly be flying beneath you as you ride in coach. So what is the point in making the middle-aged man sitting next to me on the plane check his deodorant? I think we would all be better off if he were allowed to bring it on board.

These restrictions are just a false sense of security. The government has encouraged the American public to believe that because strict TSA restrictions are in place, terrorism is being prevented. Yet the security line at O’Hare is not where the breeding of terrorism is taking place. Terrorism is being bred in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and as Will Ferrell speaking as George Bush so eloquently said, in “one of them Koreas”. Therefore, my Chanel lip-gloss, even though it is French, should not be placed on the Axis of Evil. Making the American public consolidate or check all their liquids and remove their shoes is not making for a safer America, especially when cargo is being shipped unscreened and nuclear weapons are being tested abroad. The TSA restrictions are in place so America feels safe while our true safety and national security is still at great risk. Thankfully, Americans are now beginning to realize this false sense of security as well the deceptions of the Bush Administration.

Instead of trying to find a terrorist among a random group of citizens tying to get to South Dakota, our anti-terrorism efforts should be in places where we know a threat to our national security exists. While this type of protective measure may not be the most comforting and personal to Americans, it would be more effective in protecting our national security. North Korea is currently testing nuclear weapons, which could be a severe threat to U.S. security. Our current efforts in the Middle East are not working and Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind 9/11, is still hiding in a dark cave. We need to turn the lights on in Osama’s cave and stop terrorism at its source. Only then will America be safer.

The lights are on in the White House, but no one is home. So for now, we will still have to submit to the TSA regulations and long security lines at the airport, but hopefully soon the government will come to grips with the current situation we are facing in the Middle East. When this happens, America will no longer have to turn on all the lights. Our national security will be restored, our soldiers will be home, and the American people will no longer be left in the dark.

Katie Palmitier is a sophomore political science major. She can be contacted at kpalmiti@nd.edu

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.