Thursday, September 5, 2002

One Year Later

One Year Later
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 5, 2002

One year removed from September 11, 2001 and what have we got to show for it? We’re a year older – save for the over 3,000 men and women killed by 19 terrorists, 15 of whom were of Saudi origin. We’re a year more frustrated, a year angrier, but we are not a year wiser.

Clown College Graduates

Are we safer today as compared to Sept. 10, 2001 regarding airport security? A rhetorical question because obviously we are not, and several staff members of the New York Daily News have risked imprisonment to demonstrate this point over Labor Day weekend.

Better than the New York Mets and Baltimore Orioles combined, the Daily News staffers batted1,000 – succeeding 14 times in 14 attempts to surpass what is passing for security at 11 airports and were able to board airplanes with box cutters, razors, knives and pepper spray in their possession. Four of the airports were the very same airports where the Sept. 11 terrorists boarded – Dulles International, Newark International, Logan International in Boston and Portland International Jetport in Maine. The other airports include Kennedy and LaGuardia in New York as well as hubs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas as well as the smaller markets of Fort Lauderdale, FL and Santa Barbara, CA.

Also, what should have sent up the proverbial red flag was the fact that the plane tickets purchased by the Daily News team were all designated one-way fares.
These Keystone Kops, no doubt graduates of Clown College, are a disgrace. They are ill-equipped to handle the tasks they were hired to do, which should make all who board airplanes about as nervous as a cat in a roomful of rocking chairs. All the waiting in lines, the searches of both bag and body is purely a fa├žade as the ineptitude of airport security at checkpoints reassures few.

Let’s keep strip-searching retired 85-year-old Congressmen and 70-year-old nuns in full habit. Let’s continue to be afraid to target those who should be targeted because someone’s feelings might be hurt. Members of an Israeli security team said the US does not have a security system, just a system of bothering people.

Getting its priorities in order, members of the Transportations Security Administration, seemed more concerned with the law breaking staff members of the Daily News and what potential terrorists might now be able to do. Now? They have done it already. And if nothing else, the Daily News demonstrated that improvements are desperately needed.

Let’s start with hiring qualified personnel such as retired law officers who have spoken out about this situation clamoring for the opportunity to serve. The airlines themselves should be taking a greater role in the security process. They cut corners on security allowing for terrorist infiltration in the first place. The FAA should be setting stricter standards with senior members conducting surprise inspections and imposing fines upon the airlines.

The government should not be bailing out the airlines when they cry poverty. If they wish to earn profits, they need to make their airline as inviting as possible to the flying public and not penalize them for improving the safety inequities caused by cutting corners.

Friends or Foes

While on the subject of safety, how safe is society with the release of 55 Taliban prisoners from Afghanistan earlier this week, with an additional 55 on their way out to follow.

Deemed “dangerous,” by the Afghan government, its new leader Hamid Karzai did not prevent the release of these Taliban fighters, many of who are on their way back to rejoin al Qaeda. This is the same al Qaeda that has access to between an estimated $30 million and $300 million.

Karzai: Foe

Saudi Arabia was the country of origin of 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 terrorists. It has talked out of both sides of its mouth by condemning terrorism, but still remaining aloof at best with regard to assisting the United States in the capture and prosecution of future terrorists. The Saudis maintained good relations with the US under President Bush I and the current President Bush feels a certain loyalty toward that relationship, but that loyalty clearly has not been returned.

Saudi Arabia: Foe

It’s good to finally see British Prime Minister Tony Blair on board with the United States regarding potential plans against Iraq. Much to the displeasure of many members of his own Labour Party, Blair obviously came to the realization as to which side his bread is buttered on.

Blair: Friend

On the other hand, many of America’s traditional western European allies during the last half of the last century namely France, Germany and Italy have declared their intentions to not get involved, claiming a lack of proof that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction in his arsenal. With France, no surprise – the US has been cleaning up after them for years predating World War II, and that anti-American, anti-Semitic country denied the US air space in the not to distant past.

Another fear many of the so-called European allies have, and so too do too many Americans – the potential loss of oil. The Europeans are too dependent upon Arab oil. That is their business. The United States on the other hand, that’s our business. We are also too dependent upon Arab oil, but we have choices.

First, the US should produce more of its own oil by drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or in the Alaskan/Arctic reserves. The US can drill responsibly with a watchful eye on the environment.

As the environment is a concern, the US has the technology to pursue alternative energy sources such as nuclear, solar, water and wind. If the US must procure oil from foreign sources, stepping up business with Mexico is the way to go. That nation is part of the Americas in the Western Hemisphere where the US has a warmer relationship with Presidente Vicente Fox of Mexico. The US should not succumb to hostage status to Arab oil interests.

Mother May I

Much akin to the children’s game of asking permission to take one or two steps forward, President Bush is seeking Congressional approval to attack Iraq.

First, it should not be called an attack, but a pre-emptive strike, and secondly, Bush does not need to seek the approval of Congress. Congress gave the president the authority to fight the war on terrorism as of Sept. 14 of last year and Saddam’s Iraq is on the list of terrorist states for the past 20 years said House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX).

Taking military action without Congressional approval is not unheard of either. That has been done over 200 times throughout the history of the United States pointed out Ed Meese, former Attorney General under former President Ronald Reagan. Meese further said he believes that President Bush is in possession of information outlining the dangers the United States, its European allies and Israel are in, allowing for Bush to make a pre-emptive strike.

However, having Congressional “approval” would go a long way in “selling” the American people on the concept of striking first. Some would say the first strike came on Sept. 11 of last year, including this writer, so why wait for strike two. Many Americans believe removing Saddam Hussein from power is in the best interest of the United States and are already supportive of military action.

What is important to keep in mind is that the United States will be depicted as a giant ogre attacking a defenseless and smaller nation by the court of world opinion. The United States should not be the least bit concerned with world opinion. Hussein, who has already killed thousands of his own people will not hesitate to move his armies, such as they are, to the cities surrounded by civilians forcing American troops to fight amongst them. Hussein is counting on a soft American public to be duped by the far-left American press, save for Fox News, depicting the war as American soldiers killing “innocent Iraqi women and children.”

This depiction would reduce support for continued military action, all the while losing site of the bigger picture – that over 3,000 innocent men and women were slaughtered on Sept. 11, 2001. Public opinion in the United States is important to ensure support for the men and women who wear the uniforms of the armed forces – so that there are No More Vietnams, as the late former President Richard M. Nixon wrote in 1985.

If military action against Hussein and Iraq is eminent, the American people should be supportive of the president and the troops he commands. The media should do its job and report the news, not attempt to make the news. It is not the job of the media to give out troop movements before they occur, although if the spokespersons for the armed forces do their jobs properly, the media will not gain access to such information.

As the United States approaches Sept. 11 one year later, may G-d Bless its uniformed personnel and all freedom loving Americans.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer living in Alexandria, VA.

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