Who is more to blame for the recent shutdown of Newark Airport: The 28-year old graduate student who jumped a rope and entered the secure area of the airport, or the TSA agent who left his post unguarded?
Some politicians have been quick to choose sides. And friend of the blog, Robert P. — he of the world-famous “You have chunks in your beer” letter to the CEO of Midwest Airlines — calls out one particularly-vocal US Senator for playing the blame game.
The text of the letter to Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) follows in its entirety:
Dear Senator Lautenberg,
I’m not one of your constituents, but still wanted to write a note of disappointment regarding what appears to me to be your desire to publicly hang, draw and quarter Haisong Jiang, the schmuck who shut down Newark Liberty International Airport last week. While it is clear that what he did was wrong, it is wrong in the same sense that speeding or jaywalking is wrong. The terrible ramifications — shutting down the airport — speak much more to the incompetence of TSA staff and absurdity of the rules drafted by TSA leadership than to the actual violation itself.
Think about it just for a second; if Al Qaeda terrorists knew they could shut down an entire airport (and delay air traffic around the world) by skipping through a velvet rope to kiss a girl, they could save a lot of money on explosives and weapons training. Granted, they might have to spring for a dozen roses or a box of chocolates, but I suspect these might still be cheaper (and less painful) than setting ones underwear on fire.
Clearly, the problem here isn’t with Mr. Jiang but with the TSA. And your public statements that the man should face federal charges over the incident are ridiculous. Please direct your attention to the actual problem, rather than a misbehaving graduate student. Instead of absurdly saying that the man committed a “terrible terrible offense” and should turn himself in, why not ask why the TSA has a “no-fly” list that creates hassles for everyone named “John Smith” because some criminal, somewhere, used that as an alias, but nonetheless allows real, identified, terrorists with no luggage, no return ticket, and no winter coat to get on trans-Atlantic flights to Detroit in the middle of winter.
Thank you and Happy New Year.
Got a side to take in this debate? Hit the comments.