One Week In

by Adam Popescu

One week into the new year…

The Transportation Security Administration is standing on its head in the wake of the Dec. 26 attempted suicide bombing by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. All signs pointed towards this guy not being allowed to fly—his own father called the US embassy to nark on him, yet, somehow Abdulmutallab managed to pass through security, board a plane, and detonate an explosive hidden in his underwear. The explosive failed to inflict damage to the plane, and by pure, dumb luck, we dodged a national tragedy.

TSA initially patted itself on the back for their crisis management, but as more information surfaced, they reneged and admitted to a failure to “connect the dots.” Obama repeated the statement. Major security lapse. AKA, we F’d up. Again. Not surprisingly, the 24-hour news cycle’s appetite has been ravenous.

Congress is pining for increased use of full body scanners, which are already being employed in 19 airports across the country.

What does this mean for you and me? Well, we’re still going to travel. It’s just going to be that much more difficult.

Fourteen nations have been identified as “countries of interest” by the TSA: Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and Yemen. On January 4, The New York Times reported travelers coming from or through these countries into the US will face “full-body pat-downs or scanning, go through explosive detection technology, and have their carry-on luggage inspected.”

Travelers should expect longer lines in airports, more delays and heavier screening.

In the air, new restrictions of mobility are being implemented. One hour prior to landing, passengers are unable to leave their seats, forbidden to use restrooms, collect items stowed in overhead bins, or use their tray tables.

In another shot to the TSA’s rep, a Jan.2 security breach by an unidentified man in Newark’s Liberty Airport revealed that TSA’s security cameras failed to record video of the incident. Allegations of workplace negligence are flying, and the media is eating it up.

What’s going on America? Are we really as fat and lazy as they say we are?

While we sit glued to our televisions, phones and computers, it’s easy to forget we have two wars on the books, another being run by CIA paramilitaries in Pakistan, and drones being deployed in Yemen.

On Jan. 8, The Jerusalem Post reported that US military is prepping for possible confrontation with Iran.

With an unstable, nuclear Iran teetering towards full-scale revolution, military engagement risks stretching our thin army even thinner.

As most of the nation sits in a deep freeze, the political climate burns decidedly hot. 2010 is going to be a big year.

—Adam Popescu