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Locking Barn Doors
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Overreacting To Terrorist Acts

By James Donahue

Ever since the 9-11 attacks, the United States has been over-reacting to terrorism. George W. Bush and his administration adopted the radical Patriot Act giving police and federal agents freedom to tap private communications and violate our First Amendment rights.

Bush launched unnecessary wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that consequently provoked more hatred among Islamic extremists than existed before 9-11. And because passenger planes were hijacked and turned into flying bombs, airport security become so intense that people were almost loathe to board a plane.

Bush also created an Office of Homeland Security and merged numerous other federal agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Secret Service, Office of Inspector General, Transportation Security Administration, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The culmination of all of those eggs in one basket created an agency that was so complex it failed to function when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. In short, it was probably not a good idea.

In taking these steps, President Bush assured the nation that we would be safe from any more terrorist attacks. He reasoned that by taking the “war” to foreign soils, he was preventing it from coming to America.

We should never underestimate the creative genius of angry and radical people in third world countries wishing to bring death and destruction to a financial and military monster like the United States has become.

Just when we thought we had it all figured out, along came Richard Reid with a plastic explosive packed in the hollowed-out bottoms of his shoes. On Dec. 22, 2001, three months after 9-11, Reid boarded American Airlines Flight 63 from Paris to Miami. Fortunately he was caught attempting to ignite his shoes. After that, all airline passengers were asked to remove their shoes for inspection before boarding.

Did they have all of the bases covered then? Heck no. On Christmas Day 2009, the infamous “underwear bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was caught trying to ignite a bomb device hidden in his underpants on a Northwest Airlines flight as it was coming in for a landing at Detroit.

Now we have now high-tech screening devices at major airports that see through people’s clothes as well as their luggage. No more privacy for anyone wishing to fly.

We seem to be very good at locking barn doors after the horses have escaped.

The latest scare, a failed car bomb attempt by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad on New York City’s Times Square, was an attempt by a man living in America to manufacture a car bomb and explode it in one of the most crowded places in New York. It was only after he tried to escape by boarding an aircraft bound for Dubai that he was caught. Had the bomb exploded he might have gotten away with it.

We have to wonder what additional freedoms and what new inconveniences our government will devise to make sure we don’t have any more car bombs tried on our sovereign soil.

Fortunately, all three incidents were interrupted by citizens who noticed something out of the ordinary and did something about it. In the New York City case smoke coming from a parked car was noticed by a street vender who reported it to police.

Citizen awareness is the best defense America has against terrorist attacks. It won’t always protect us, but it has been scoring high marks so far. All of the screening and cross-checking of names on no-fly lists in the world can’t be as effective as a good set of eyes and ears and citizens being on their guard as they go about their daily business.

Another thing this nation can do to ease the terrorist threat is to stop making people all over the world hate us enough to want to do something as radical as explode a bomb in a crowded place.

A good way to start is to shut down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, do all that we can to repair the damage we caused, and leave the people of these nations alone to work out their own affairs. Nobody likes to live under occupation by a foreign military force.

Another thing that might ease this threat is to find out why Osama bin Laden went to such extremes to attack us the way he did. Once we know that, we might be able to treat the cause of the anger instead of shooting at it.