Sunday, April 1, 2012

Airline passengers and crew are the first line of defense against terrorists, not the TSA

Mark Wahlberg was right.
The movie actor was criticized and ridiculed for some poorly worded comments he made in January about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But I understand the gist of what he was saying and he’s right.
In an interview with Men’s Journal, Wahlberg said, “If I was on that plane with my kids, it wouldn’t have went down like it did. There would have been a lot of blood in that first-class cabin and then me saying, ‘OK, we’re going to land somewhere safely, don’t worry.’” (See articles by Salon, Los Angeles Times and Reuters.)
He apologized for his remarks, which were insensitive to the victims of 9/11. But what I believe he was trying to say is, if it were to happen now, knowing what we do about terrorists today, Wahlberg and other passengers wouldn’t sit idly by. Gone are the days when hijackers simply flew to another country for refuge. Now we know they want to use planes as weapons.
Two incidents aboard U.S. airlines last week demonstrated once again that passengers and airline crews are the first line of defense against terrorists, not the TSA.
First, on March 27, a JetBlue Airways pilot became unhinged and started running down the center aisle, yelling about Jesus, al-Qaida and a possible bomb on board. Passengers tackled him and tied him up with seat belt extenders until the co-pilot could make an emergency landing. (See AP article “JetBlue Pilot Clayton Osbon’s Unraveling Baffles Friends.”)
Also, on March 27, a female passenger aboard a US Airways flight was wrestled to the ground by an off-duty deputy after she attacked crew members. She was intoxicated and became upset when a flight attendant refused to serve her alcohol, according to the Associated Press.
These are just the latest cases of passengers and flight crews taking charge of potential threats on board airplanes since 9/11. Others include shoe-bomber Richard Reid and underwear-bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
The U.S. Transportation Security Administration has yet to catch a terrorist after more than 10 years of operation. The TSA is a waste of taxpayer dollars and its security procedures are humiliating and an inconvenience to millions of travelers.

Photo: Actor Mark Wahlberg.

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