Inside the Capitol

Sunday, September 05, 2010

9-10 Did 9-11 Change Your Life?

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- How did 9-11 change your life? Very soon after the event, President George W. Bush told us not to let it affect our lives -- or else the terrorists have won.
It was sage advice. The terrorists wanted to change our lives in retaliation for us changing their lives politically and culturally. So capturing and punishing those responsible while moving on with our personal lives was the best way to foil their plot.
Most of us did move on, not letting it affect our everyday lives. But the same government that told us not to sweat it started changing our lives in many ways. It created a Homeland Security Department in the president's cabinet.
And that new department has a new agency called the Transportation Security Administration, seemingly dedicated to making one's flying experience as unpleasant as possible.
The department can brag that no airplane has been brought down by a terrorist act since its inception but it also must admit that it has never caught a terrorist in its screening process.
Airport screenings originally were justified by former Vice President Dick Cheney's one-percent doctrine, which stated that if there is a one percent chance of a terrorist act, we must respond as if there is a 100 percent chance.
Actually the chance of dying aboard an airplane as the result of a terrorist act is far less than one percent. You would have to add several more zeroes after the decimal point.
In an article shortly after the attempted Christmas day bombing over Detroit last year, the Wall Street Journal stated the odds at one in 25 million. It added that the odds of being killed by lightening are 50 times more likely.
The article concluded that for all practical purposes, the odds of being subjected to a terrorist attack can be calculated as zero. I can report, however, that my exhaustive research has revealed a celebrated event that is even more unlikely than a terrorist attack.
You are about 40 times less likely to win the Powerball lottery. My advice is to quit playing the lottery and quit worrying about airline safety. Make the most out of life every day.
While we have tightened security on American travelers both here and abroad, we have been letting goods shipped from foreign countries pass under our noses daily throughout the nation.
And while we check airline passengers down to their underwear, we are basically ignoring airport employees who are free to get in all sorts of mischief.
We also got the Patriot Act which has caused many Americans privacy and civil liberty concerns with its greatly increased monitoring provisions. Possibly the most noticeable change is the presence of surveillance cameras in public places -- except for a certain Arizona prison.
Everyone has been affected by the two wars we started in the name of combating terrorism. We'll be paying for those in terms of lives lost for many years and in terms of taxpayer costs for even longer.
Much of the public was afraid to fly after 9/11. My wife and I saw it as an opportunity to see the world for less than half price. On a cruise tour of Scandinavian capitals, we took a shortcut to the Baltic through Germany's Kiel Canal.
Knowing that most of the ship's passengers were Americans, German farmers turned out for picnics along the canal with large American flags and signs saying, "We Are All Americans."
When we visited the capital cities, every U.S. embassy had a shrine of flowers and signs at the front gate expressing sorrow for what America had endured. We visited again two years later with friends and saw the shrines had been replaced by armed guards protecting against demonstrations.
We blew our worldwide goodwill pretty quickly. But the world still would join us, I'm sure, in expressing sympathy for the families who lost loved ones in this horrible tragedy.
FRI, 9-10-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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