Perspective on bin Laden’s War

Bill Neinast

neins1@aol.com

Some facts are stranger and harder to believe than fiction.  Here is one of those facts.


Some may disagree, but it is a fact that the late Osama bin Laden won the war.  He must have gloated over his victory until he was fed to the fish.


Still a doubter?  Then consider these verifiable facts.  To date, there have been 57,614 American casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That includes 5,281 dead American service personnel.  This does not include the 13 soldiers killed at Ft. Hood or the 3,000+ killed in the New York, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania disasters on 9/11.


Then try to enter any federal building or military installation.  Better yet, take a trip  by air, even if it is just a short hop between Austin and Houston.  


The annual budget for those Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) guys and gals making you take off your shoes in the airports is 7.91 billion dollars. Those security checks have been a pain for almost 12 years.  So soon, we will have spent 100 million dollars on just this one battle in bin Laden’s war.


There is no easy way to determine the cost of the new bin Laden security at military installations.  Each one is different with varying numbers of entry gates and the amount of traffic in and out of the posts.  Some gates were eliminated and the remaining gates were modified with covered “carports” to protect the  civilian sentries who are on duty 24/7. 


Since 9/11, the Pentagon has gobbled up more than one trillion dollars.  Much of those dollars were for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Billions of tax dollars are still flooding into that large chunk of the annual budgets.


In contrast, the June 29, 2010, “Cost of Major U.S. Wars”  report by the  Congressional Research Service indicates that  the combined costs of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam are less than a trillion.


The costs discussed above are just those of our country.  Every other country with airline service has some type of TSA activity.  Some of those countries also provided military resources in Iraq and Afghanistan with hundreds of their soldiers killed in combat.


All of these lives and dollars have been spent primarily to fight a disparate, unorganized “army” unleashed and directed by the late bin Laden.  No end is in sight.   His army is like the mythical multi-headed Hydra.  Cut off one head and one or two more grow back.


Surrendering is never easy.  Maybe it is time, however, to cry uncle on at least one battle field--airline security.  


Deaths attributable to airplanes as weapons like those used on 9/11 are less than 4,000.  Since that date, no one has died in an airplane commandeered by bin Laden operatives, but 45,023 have died on Texas highways, just one of 50 states. 


This indicates that we may be putting the eggs in the wrong basket.  The new reinforced doors that must be locked on airline cabin doors have eliminated the chances of a commercial airliner being highjacked.  If a terrorist tried to take command of a plane today by holding one or more attendants hostage, passengers would undoubtedly react as they did in Pennsylvania.  In addition, pilots could be trained to put their plane in a steep dive or other maneuver to throw the terrorist off balance.


Theoretically, if there is no TSA screening at airports, a suicide bomber could board a plane with explosive laden underwear and crash a plane over a densely inhabited area.


That possibility means that boarding a commercial airliner would become almost as dangerous as venturing out on a Texas highway.  There is always a chance that the commercial airliner you are boarding will crash while you are on board, as several do around the world every year.


The threat of death or serious injury does not keep millions of Texans from taking the substantial risk of being on a highway every day. Their cousins are doing the same in other states. So why should there be a reluctance to board one of the thousands of planes in the air every day because there is that remote possibility that a suicide bomber may be boarding with you.


So here’s the perspective.


Abolishing a government program is the most difficult task possible.  The time has come, however, to do the impossible and abolish the TSA.  This will create a risk in traveling by air, but, as mentioned, the risk would be less than the one taken on entering a highway.


Billions of dollars could be saved every year by replacing the thousands of luggage scanners with a small hand full of patrolmen with bomb sniffing dogs in every airport.  


The unthinkable might even be tried.  Train the patrolmen to be “profilers” to  be alert for certain types of passengers.


Currently, no end is envisioned in the losing battle with bin Laden and his successors.  So let’s accept defeat and start now to begin winding down the war.

enough



 
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