Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Got Security?

It's been a while since I've commented on the shenanigans, um, I mean hard, selfless patriotic work of the good people at Homeland Security. What made me realize this was not the emails from Michael Chertoff ("I'm beginning to think you just don't care anymore..."), but how many hits the blog had been getting. For much of N&C's short life the graph representing site traffic has looked the EKG reading of a corpse. Then one day I took a look in Google Analytics and people all over the world were checking out the blog on a regular basis. I was baffled until I recalled the topics of my previous three posts.

Write an insightful commentary on national politics and your friends will read it, your stats will shoot up for that one day and the next day you're back to zero. But mentioning Nazis--that's much better for site traffic. And when you write something silly that includes the words 'butt' and 'vagina'--next thing you know you're HUGE in Indonesia.

Well, I've decided fame doesn't really suit me, so it's back to weighty matters.

I realized the other day that we're well into our seventh full year without being attacked by the People Who Hate Us For Our Freedom, so I decided to check up on the good people at Homeland Security who have made this possible.

I fly quite a bit so one of the HS agencies that most concerns me is the TSA--the people who make sure I haven't inadvertently smuggled a bomb on board. I am fairly lucky, as frequent fliers go--I've never been in a plane crash, never been seated next to a Jehovah's Witness, never been in a hijacking, and I've never been robbed. But a lot of other fliers aren't so lucky. Over $31 million dollars worth of items have been stolen from passenger luggage during a three-year period (as Cory Doctorow of BoingBoing points out, this is all since the TSA instituted the no-locks on luggage policy). I think I get it: they're working to make us secure, but naturally national security has some trade offs,* so they can't make both us and our luggage secure--that would just be crazy.**

Seriously, the Transportation Security Administration has their hands full. Over 600 millions passengers board flights in the U.S. each year. And any one of them could be a terrorist--even a five-year old. And it doesn't help matters that many TSA hires leave within months. It turns out people who apply for jobs with the government actually want full-time work . Who knew? That fact simply demonstrates yet again this War on Terror is completely new territory, and we're all learning as we go.

*The Bill of Rights isn't even really in the Constitution--it's a bunch of amendments (constitutional lawspeak for afterthought), so it can't be that important.

**Of course, now I wonder why I haven't been robbed. Call me overly sensitive, but if $10-an-hour baggage handlers are turning up their noses at my stuff, I can't help but take it personally.

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