TSA and the Maginot Line
When World War I was over the French built an impregnable Maginot Line to keep out any future German invasion. In World War II the Germans simply went around the Maginot Line to attack France--successfully.
The airport security we employ and endure today is the Maginot Line of the War Against Terrorism, the constantly updated effort to protect against the 9/11 terrorists' tactics, the shoe bomber, the underwear bomber. Our colleague John Wohlstetter explains the well-meaning futility of this strategy.
The purpose of terrorism is not to inflict casualties on enemy combatants, but to terrorize the civilian population. That aim succeeded after 9/11 when our stock market tanked and Americans undertook increasingly invasive searches at our airports before ticketed passengers board planes.
Meanwhile, what prevents terrorists from blowing up hundreds of passengers at the departure counters before they ever board?
Nothing more than prevents some Somali fanatic from blowing up the Christmas tree lighting crowd in Portland, Oregon; namely, FBI detective work. THe terrorists aren't stupid. They eventually will find their way to vulnerable football games in Nebraska, shoppers at Macy's and faith gatherings in American cathedrals. What stands in their way is not metal detectors or pat downs, but advance police work.
Memo to the incoming Congress. Ask the old 9/11 Commission: how are we doing?