After Pants On Fire Guy tried to go all Grinch on Detroit’s Christmas last week, President Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security was quick to comment that the “system” had not failed, that it had indeed worked in his case. Ms. Napolitano, using her keen political insight (and probably half-deafened by the gales of derisive laughter), later retracted the statement — saying that “the system” that had let a guy with no passport, no baggage, a one-way ticket bought with cash, and a place on the no-fly list get on an American airliner bound for Detroit with a crotchful of boom had obviously failed in protecting us.
Actually, Napolitano was right the first time. But she was just too damned honest.
“The system,” as the current administration runs it, did work precisely as intended. When the (probably now gelded, we can only hope) would-be bomber was identified and stopped, the federal government swept into action: he was arrested and hauled off the plane, stripped of his erstwhile explosive skivvies, and charged with plenty of criminal offenses.
And that is the real atrocity here. Not that the system failed — but because it didn’t. No, the real problem is that the system is being tasked with the wrong job.
Mr. “Acute Burning Sensation In What Used To Be My Loins” wasn’t stopped by “the system.” No, two things entirely outside the system conspired to turn him from a would-be Islamist martyr into an endless string of punchlines (this guy could end up eclipsing Monica Lewinsky in that area) were his own incompetence and a Flying Dutchman.
First up, the guy’s bomb didn’t work as intended. It’s still not clear if it was poor design, operator error, or both (I’d put money on “both, plus more screwups we don’t know about yet”), but it just didn’t go well for this jerk. Instead of going out in a glorious explosion over Detroit (quick trivia question — if a plane blew up and fell on Detroit, would anyone even notice any damage on the ground?), he instead had a real-life “pocket rocket” that probably made him a walking, talking Ken doll.
Next, it was an ordinary individual who jumped Martyr Ken, stripped him of his bomb, and helped restrain him for the authorities. And not even an American — a Danish guy burned his own hands saving the plane.
There’s something worth noting here. How many times have ordinary people — not empowered with any kind of governmental sanction or authority — averted major disasters? Jasper Schuringa, the passengers of Flight 93 on 9/11, Jeanne Assam, Liviu Librescu — so many times it’s people like them that end up saving the day. Hell, even the Fort Hood shooting and the Millennium Bomber were stopped not by highly-trained elites, but ordinary officers (two cops on traffic duty and a front-line Customs agent).
And not the thoroughly professional (you can tell because they’re not only federal employees, but they’re UNIONIZED too!) security experts who we’re all supposed to trust.
One final note: once again, I am dismayed to find out that I am a prophet…