One of our son travels extensively throughout the world in his job. His family flies frequently, too. Our other son has been to Europe a few times and will soon be travelling to Costa Roca on a mission trip. Our daughter has made some trips to Europe as well. My wife and I have traveled both for work and pleasure.
We have entertained guests in our home from Korea, Japan, Zimbabwe, Latvia, Albania, Afghanistan, Denmark, Ireland and England.
Airline safety is a concern, not just to the rich and famous, but to everyone in America and the world. We live in a highly mobile society.
In this 21st Century in which we find ourselves living, there seems to be two main issues concerning safety in the skies. They are terrorism by means of hijacking and airport security privacy.
Airplane hijacking goes back as far as many people alive today can remember. The first attempted hijack of a commercial US airliner took place in 1961.
Those hijackers, for whatever reason, were seeking asylum in Cuba. These relatively ‘benign’ hijackings became so frequent during the 1960’s that the phrases ‘Take me to Havana’ or ‘Take this plane to Cuba’ became part of the American culture.
I can even remember in Korea in 1968 when an intoxicated US soldier boarded a public bus near the DMZ loudly exclaiming “Take this bus to Cuba” before passing out among the Korean peasants on their journey to Seoul.
Much work was done in an effort to stop the hijackings and following the 1974 Anti-hijacking Act, the number of hijackings did, in fact, fall sharply, especially in the US.
However, in the 1980’s Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people.
These hijackers were found to be from the Libyan intelligence community and were convicted of the crime. The Libyan government formally accepted the blame for this tragedy a few years later.
Hijacking reached a new ‘low’ when on September 11, 2001; Middle Eastern Muslim terrorists took control of four commercial planes with devastating results.
Two of these airliners crashed into the World Trade Center in New Your City, one into the US Military’s Pentagon in the Washington DC area, and a fourth airliner, thought to be headed for Washington, was forced to crash in a rural field in Pennsylvania.
Of the 19 hijackers who directly participated in the horrific attacks on September 11, 2001, fifteen hailed from Saudi Arabia, three from the United Arab Emirates, and one from Lebanon.
The masterminds of this tragedy were a terrorists group named al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden, who was born in Yemen.
Following this devastating event, the US Government transferred responsibility for airline safety from the Federal Aeronautics Administration (FAA) to the newly organized mega-cabinet entity of Department of Homeland Security, currently chaired by Janet Napolitano.
Significant strides toward safety have been accomplished. Only two life-threatening occurrences have since been noted. Once, when Richard Reid (aka Abdul Raheem) who trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan, tried to explode a bomb in his shoe. And again, when Umar Faroak Abdulmutallab tried to explode a bomb in his underclothing just recently on a flight from Yemen.
I am the ultimate champion of an individual’s rights in this country. I think we should do everything within our power to protect these rights (i.e. voting, right to bear arms, and others constitutionally guaranteed).
But, I think the majority has a ‘limited prerogative’ to defend and make America safe from all those who choose to do us harm. We are in a state of war according to our former and current presidents. Not a declared war, but war, none the less.
I certainly oppose any policy that would place innocent individuals into an ‘internment situation’ such as was experienced by many Japanese-Americans during World War Two. I believe it is too easy to forget civil liberties in times of national unrest, fear, and insecurity.
I am against racial profiling, generally speaking, but when 100 percent of the 9 -11 hijackers, 100 percent of the USS Cole attackers, and 100 percent of the most recent attempted airplane explosions, are of Middle Eastern heritage, training and beliefs, it is only prudent to observe those individuals more closely.
In today’s circumstances, any law-abiding, peace-loving, rationally-thinking person of Middle Eastern descent, or any other individual for that matter, should welcome the opportunity to aid all attempts of safety for the public.
If I go to an airport and am singled out for closer scrutiny either electronic, visually, or manually, I say “bring it on.” Any right I have or even perceive as having, ENDS where it interferes with another person’s safety and right to life.