Tuesday, July 26, 2005

LTE, Philadelphia Daily News7/26

For once I find myself agreeing with a SEPTA decision:
it makes absolutely no sense to initiate random bag
checks at SEPTA locations
, as the chances of catching
a bomb-toting terrorist are minimal. The intrusion
into normal Americans' civil liberties is not

The fact is, random bag checks will not prevent a
terrorist determined to self-combust. Does anyone
think that seeing a policeman ahead checking bags is
going to make a terrorist reconsider? The terrorist
does not care if the explosion happens on the train or
at the turnstile: if the objective is to kill and
terrorize, simply pulling the pin while standing in
line is adequate.

One particular weakness of random bag checks is that
people have prejudices. Much as New Jersey's attempts
to stem the flow of drugs through state highways
morphed into indefensible and illegal racial
profiling, so would random bag checks eventually begin
to target only those of us who fit the stereotype of a
middle eastern terrorist. The only preventive measure
I can think of that would not unnecessarily affect
innocent commuters would be to encourage the use of
bomb-sniffing dogs. This would minimize wasteful
searches and help to protect the public.
Brendan Skwire


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