Minot Daily News, Minot, N.D., June 17, Duped
Most of us who have traveled by air over the past 13 years have experienced the inconvenience of dealing with Transportation Security Administration screenings, random searches and regulations. And, most of us dutifully packed our toiletries in tiny containers, inside separate clear plastic bags; submitted to full-body scans and pat-downs; took off our shoes; endured the long lines … followed all the new rules, because we believed what we were told — that it all would keep us safer.
In fact, the invasions of privacy and increased hoops to jump through were billed as necessary in order to ensure that our larger freedoms remained safe. Now, as the result of a Department of Homeland Security investigation, we are learning we were duped. An internal investigation conducted by Homeland Security teams showed TSA airport screeners failed to detect explosives and weapons an unfathomable nearly 96 percent of the time. Banned items made it through screening in 67 of 70 attempts in airports across the country.
In announcing what has become the typical response to government failures these days — acting administrator for the TSA Melvin Carraway has been “reassigned” — Homeland Security reminded Americans that airport screenings are but one of many ways in which we are told the government keeps us safe. An agency representative cited “intelligence gathering and analysis, cross-checking passenger manifests against watch lists, screening at checkpoints, random canine team screening at airports, reinforced cockpit doors, Federal Air Marshals, armed pilots and a vigilant public.”
We know intelligence gathering does not stop a man in a gyrocopter from landing on the U.S. Capitol lawn. We know screening at checkpoints fails almost every time. We know reinforced cockpit doors mean once a crazed co-pilot gets the pilot out of the cockpit, no one can get back in to stop him. We know watch lists can contain gaps and mistakes, and do not account for first-timers.
That leaves us to put our faith in dogs, armed marshals and pilots, and each other — not a bad plan, actually.
But meanwhile, more than $540 million in taxpayer money has been spent on baggage screening equipment alone, with millions more spent on training users, over the past six years. That is well over half-a-billion dollars for a program that simply does not work. Lawmakers had better demand a lot more accountability than simply the reassignment of one administrator for that kind of waste.
June 16, The Courier-Journal, Louisville, Kentucky, on police shooting of Sudanese refugee:
Two very different lives.
Two paths to a tragic event.
Two men quite probably equally afraid.
Two pair of shoes.
Perhaps all it takes is an editorial cartoon to convey in a simple image and two short sentences the bigger message of what this community needs at a time like this.
As the people of Louisville work to understand the shooting death of Sudanese refugee Deng Manyoun by police Officer Nathan Blanford on Saturday, it is fitting that our contributing editorial cartoonist, Marc Murphy, reminds us that we should walk a mile in each of their shoes before we proceed as a community.
Yes, over the coming months we should re-examine the policies and training we give our police — and whether we’re willing to spend more tax dollars to ensure we have the best trained force.
Yes, over the coming months we also should reconsider how we treat mental illness and addiction — and whether we’re willing to spend more tax dollars to help those in need.
And, over the coming months we should discuss how we welcome refugees into our “compassionate city” as our population grows more diverse.
But we will only get to the right answers if we begin by walking a mile in many sets of shoes.
Taking that walk now also could reduce hasty conclusions that are spreading rapidly, especially on social media.
We’ve taken the unusual step of putting this cartoon and editorial on the front page to encourage all readers to walk in others’ shoes and start a conversation that is civil and productive.