Halloween Comes to the Subways
Give me strength. Washington has lost yet another round to its Islamic fundamentalist enemies. Gaming America is so easy. The pattern is that Islam’s fascists do something cheap but gaudy, whereupon in response our federal fascists do something comic, hysterical, ineffective, expensive and, usually, unconstitutional. Oh good.
This time a couple of women explode on a subway in Moscow, and in New York all manner of absurdly armed Robocops rush into the city’s subway with military paraphernalia dangling from all attachment points. Armor. Helmets. Steely gazes. And what appear to be M16s, described by the press as machine guns, which they are not, and as submachine guns, which they are not, and as assault rifles which, if they are selectable full-auto, they are. Nothing like high-velocity full-auto in a crowded subway car. I mean, all of this is so practical.
How much does this have to do with security? About nothing.
Think. Mahmud the Mad Mullah Boomer , currently in Peoria, decides that he wants to blow himself up in the subway in New York. He sashays over to the airport and buys a round-trip ticket to JFK. Here we have an example of how the terrorist profile guarantees that terrorists won’t be detected: Everyone knows that holders of one-way tickets are harassed unmercifully, subjected to proctological invasion, having their fillings removed, and God knows what all, because they might be terrorists. Thus any serious terrorist will buy a round-trip ticket. The terrorist profile targets only non-terrorists. I can’t think of anything more useful. Can you?
If Mahmud already has his Semtex or PETN, he simply drives to New York in a rental. So much for the Department of Homeland Servility.
Once in the Magnum Macintosh, Mahmud gets a close shave, puts on a pricey suit, stashes the infernal substance in a stylish briefcase, and heads for the subway. Like any terrorist other than a wing-nut amateur, Mahmud doesn’t look like a terrorist. Meanwhile, the subway is jammed with swarthy men speaking guttural languages in low tones, young punks with green spiked hair, bag ladies muttering and drooling with their eyes pointed in different directions, and people arguing with the little voices that come from the transmitters the CIA planted in their teeth. By contrast, Mahmud looks like a respectable looter from Wall Street.
At rush hour Mahmud dives into the underground. Five thousand people an hour, or maybe ten thousand, or at any rate whole lotsa, people flood through, throwing elbows. So the city’s swatted-out Maximum Deadlies from the Secret Ninja Rifles are conducting Random Searches, the most useless of many useless security measures. Random searchers are never random, of course. The guy with the Harley logo tattooed on his eyeballs will always get pulled before the boringly legit banker. Mahmud sails by.
Consider: If the cops search one in fifty people, they have a two-percent chance of catching Mahmud who, if caught, would simply blow himself up and kill 135 people. He is already in the subway, note.
But let’s assume that Sergeant Psycho Bada** with the trendy body armor magically divines that Mahmud is, well, Mahmud. He shouts, “Halt! Or I’ll….”
What? Open fire with a full-auto 16 in a mobbed train station? Nothing could be a better idea. So he kills thirteen people including a Latino mother and her flashing-eyed three-year-old daughter Maria, who is guaranteed to jerk tears for weeks on national TV. Then it turns out, heh, that Mahmud was actually a Wall Street banker, innocently impoverishing half the country. Not an optimum career move for the good sergeant.
Should it result that Mahmud really is Mahmud, the body armor will ensure that Sergeant Bada** loses only his arms, legs, and head, while unarmored commuters will be totally splattered.
The truth, boys and girls, is that you can’t protect a subway from a suicide kerboomer who means it. Or even from a non-suicide kerboomer. The chances that an abandoned briefcase of RDX on a three-minute timer will get noticed, reported, taken seriously, and put into a non-existent containment vessel before it goes high-order, are zero. If Mahmud chooses to swallow a dozen condoms of C4, or populate his descending colon with them, he will be perfectly uncatchable.
No, I’m not giving ideas to bad guys who want more virgins than any sensible man would undertake. Everything I have said is obvious. My wife and stepdaughter are Mexican females with no knowledge of terrorism not acquired from casual reading and martial movies. In fifteen minutes of discussion, they came up with every thought in the foregoing.
So what is the point of security measures that do not provide security? I don’t know, not being privy to the councils of the autocracy. Is the idea to frighten the public into accepting ever-growing federal control? Or to maintain support for inexplicable wars? Beats hell out of me. Are bin Laden and the feds in some kind of weird demented cahoots? It’s possible. I figure the feds agree to bankrupt the United States with dimwitted belligerency and then leave Moslem countries. In return, bin Laden helps Washington stampede the Great Underbrained into an improved Stalinism packaged as “our freedoms.” Nothing else makes sense.
From a few years back, after London’s subway got blown up: “(AP) Over the next three years, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority [of New York] will add 1,000 surveillance cameras and 3,000 motion sensors to its sprawling network of subways and commuter rail facilities as part of a $212 million security upgrade announced Tuesday with Lockheed Martin Corp.”
this year: “Half of Subway Cameras Not Working.”
At least the federal gummint is consistent. None of it works. Homeland Servility as far as I know has never caught a terrorist, but TSA keeps letting them on airplanes where the passengers have to wrestle them to the deck. Ah, though: companies get billions in contracts for erotic scanners and blast-proof trash cans and, now, brain-wave interceptors. The Pentagon can’t whip a few bedraggled peasants in Afghanistan, but gets many hundreds of billions for not being able to do it. Here we see the governmental principle that if you are paid to solve a problem and in fact solve it, you stop getting paid.
If Washington really wanted to end terrorism, it would stop bombing Moslems, who would then get bored and stop bombing us. What a concept. You saw it here first. But there’s no money in it.
After enough cheap red wine, I picture the moral essence of the old Soviet Union oozing, globber slub, into the Pacific as a glutinous amoeboid predator, patiently making its was over the oceanic floor to California, and emerging, dripping, to digest its old enemy. I would feel better if red wine were hallucinogenic.
Fred Reed has worked on the staff of the Army Times, The Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Federal Computer Week, and The Washington Times, and has been published in Playboy, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Harper's, National Review, Signal, and Air&Space. He has served in the Marines, worked as a police writer, technology editor, military specialist, and as an authority on mercenary soldiers. See Fred's homepage, Fred On Everything.
Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.