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Wednesday letters: America needs a security overhaul

Attack on airliner

Nation needs a security overhaul

I don't believe the government is willing to do what is right. In the aftermath of 9/11, we went into a furious and wasteful effort to improve airline gate security, and here we go again.

Safety will only be improved if we fix all elements of our system, but we must have an administration that is committed to do so and that provides competent leadership. Thus far Homeland Security seems to be a very low priority for the Obama administration.

My family and I have lived in Japan and Saudi Arabia for several years and also visited many Asian and European countries. The following are my thoughts for improving the security of our homeland based on our experience. All should be done at once.

Develop a profiling system, not on race or religion but on characteristics. Terrorists thus far are Islamic, so that is one of the characteristics. Buying one-way airline tickets with cash and having no luggage are other characteristics. We saw this on 9/11. Also focus on young men, particularly the well educated.

Do the profiling before passengers get to the airport. The data is in the reservations systems. Last-minute reservations should be given special attention.

Stop spending money on technical devices at airport gates and use the money on activities that will add to safety. Get rid of the full body scanners and all on order. Technology can never stay ahead of terrorists' innovations. Further, the body scanners violate our rights of privacy. Where is the ACLU?

Complete overhaul of the State Department, which has been proven inept for the past 50 or more years, is also needed. Our foreign embassies and consulates rarely have U.S. personnel who are fluent in the local language. We use indigenous personnel for virtually all tasks, including gathering information. Stop the insane practice of political correctness. This may be why we issued a multiple-entry visa when our embassy was warned by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's father that he was suspect.

It can be done. It must be done or we will see many of our citizens killed and maimed!

Frederick Savalli, Clearwater

Airport security

Government fails to effectively keep us safe

So let me get this straight. We have been taking our shoes off at the airport for the last eight years because a terrorist had explosives in his shoes. Now we have another terrorist with explosives in his pants. Does this mean we will now have to take off our pants when going through security?

And what about the passenger who on Sunday locked himself in the bathroom for an hour. Will we be taking the doors off the bathrooms next?

This is our government not using the tools it has in place to keep us safe because it is afraid to offend a few thousand people on a terrorist watch list. So instead, in the name of fairness, they choose to offend the other multi-millions of us each and every time we fly.

There were plenty of signs that this man was a potential threat: He paid cash for his ticket; he had no luggage; he was recently denied a visa to Britain; his father called our embassy to report him becoming radicalized. And what did our government do? Put him on a list somewhere so if anything "important" happened they could connect the dots.

Remember that phrase, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help"? It is time to change it to: "I'm from the government and I'm here to hinder."

K.L. Blikken, St. Petersburg

Security before politics

The question you have to ask yourself is: Do you feel any safer when you board an airplane with President Barack Obama running the security for the country?

For me, no! I have no faith in political hacks like Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano running security for this country when you have more qualified people out there like Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is not afraid to put security ahead of politics.

If we have learned anything, it's the fact that the people cannot trust government to protect our families. We have to be willing to do it ourself.

James F. Dahmer, Tampa

Screen Muslims

It's time to put aside political correctness and automatically "red flag" all airline passengers bound for the United States from countries where radical Muslim groups have a presence. They should be interrogated by a security officer, their visas or passports checked, their carry-ons thoroughly searched, and they should undergo a stringent body search before being allowed to board. If this creates howls of discrimination, so be it.

Lou Murphy, Kenneth City

Illogical procedures

I am 72 years old and have an artificial hip. Every time I fly out of Tampa, which I do quite a lot, I am pulled aside for a second screening, and not treated nicely or politely by the security people either. The last time they also pulled aside an older woman with two artificial knees.

Yet a young man about whom reports have been sent to our government just waltzes onboard and very nearly blows up a plane.

I don't think this is very logical. Something in security is not working very well.

Alice de Schweinitz, Spring Hill

Ethical gap

Has anyone else noticed that the "Florida Ethics Commission" does not have even one ethicist among its members, nor does it concern itself with ethical issues. Instead it focuses on legalisms such as "a preponderance of evidence," and "standards of proof."

Furthermore their work is subject to review by the courts of the judicial system, and their authority stems from the state Legislature.

The Florida Ethics Commission is to a real Ethics Commission as a Florida snowfall is to a real snowfall.

Mortimer Brown, Lutz

This is the season of giving and tolerance for all | Dec. 24, letter

Universal traits

I commend atheist Greg Simpson for the kind words in his letter to the editor to all theists during this time of year. His views are shared by many in the Tampa Bay area.

As non-theists, we need to be identified by what we are for, not what we are against. Simpson explicated that point quite well in demonstrating that non-theists can express compassion, tolerance and giving from a secular perspective. These are innate human traits and emotions and do not belong exclusively to theists of one stripe or another.

May all of us, secularists and theists alike, strive to make ourselves more compassionate, giving, tolerant, and nonjudgmental in the coming year.

Mark Brandt, Dunedin

Wednesday letters: America needs a security overhaul 12/29/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 10:30pm]
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