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January 5, 2004


Guns + Planes = Security?

A few weeks ago, when the most recent spate of terror warnings started ramping up, we heard that planes in other countries were vulnerable to airline employees. Foreigners cannot be trusted! But then, before that news cycle had even reached its conclusion, we learn that the US is demanding armed foreign agents on planes headed here. Do these two ideas seem at odds? If we can't trust them enough not to hijack a cargo plane, why do we trust them to take guns on passenger planes? Are we supposed to take comfort in the fact that the foreign air marshals have an official law enforcement job? It's hard to be confident that these low-level air marshals will necessarily be immune to recruitment efforts of terrorist groups. Perhaps realizing that guns on planes aren't likely to make the situation any safer, an international pilots group has filed an objection to the US's demands, but the US continues to insist. A battle between British pilots and the British government over this issue led to some of those flight delays last week, and now the pilots are suggesting that the US is intentionally cancelling the flights to exert political pressure to accept the air marshal mandate.

According to a report on air marshals from the General Accounting Office [pdf], we can't even trust our own air marshals: since 9/11/01, there have been SIX HUNDRED reports of US air marshal misconduct. 600 incidents of misconduct, and now we want to put armed people we didn't even train on planes with us for trans-oceanic flights?

categories: War and Security
posted by adm at 11:05 AM | #