It’s difficult to know how to react to the ‘new’ TSA security rules announced by the Obama Administration. On one hand, the good news is that the Administration is abandoning the silly process put in place after the Christmas Day plot of targeting 14 suspicious countries for secondary inspection. Any terrorist with half a brain would recognize that this is easily avoidable by simply flying through another country, not on the list.
However, the Administration has announced that its new policy would involve “surgically targeting” terrorists on “characteristics of suspected terrorists.” This should leave Americans scratching their heads. Why should using intelligence to target terrorists be a new concept to President Obama? This is the true essence of counterterrorism, and a risk-based layered approach is a best practice of security.
Let’s not fool ourselves. The President understands that targeting terrorists on intelligence works. There are at least 30 examples—plots that have been foiled since 9/11 demonstrate how intelligence can be used effectively. But Obama has faced tremendous pressure from the left to water-down the intelligence system. The terror trials, his effort to close Gitmo, and the pressure to prosecute CIA employees are all examples.
Perhaps President Obama now understands, in the wake of the Christmas Day plot, that you can’t child proof the TSA screening line by stopping legitimate passengers from bringing in 4.5 ounce bottles of liquid or by making Americans take off their shoes. If so, this is a good revelation and a step forward towards stopping terrorists even more effectively.
Draconian security measures may seem like the great equalizer. By making everyone do it, it doesn’t offend anyone, it doesn’t involve hard choices, and it doesn’t involve standing up to detractors. But it doesn’t make Americans safer.