Jewish World Review Dec. 14, 2004 / 2 Teves, 5765

Tucker Carlson

Tucker Carlson
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Consumer Reports

They're air marshals, and they're not fooling anyone. | If you've flown on a commercial airplane lately, you know exactly who they are: Two 35-year-old white guys with short haircuts sitting together in first class. They're thickly set, like amateur body builders, and unlike everyone else on the plane, they're not reading or watching the movie. They're keeping an eye on their fellow passengers.

And unfortunately, they're not fooling anyone. They're air marshals, of course. And though their effectiveness depends on remaining undercover, they are instantly recognizable to any sober person over 12, very much including potential terrorists.

You'd think someone in the executive branch would be concerned about this. Yet, if anything, the federal air marshal service goes out of its way to make certain its employees bear no resemblance to ordinary air travelers. A strictly-enforced dress code requires marshals to wear exactly the sort of clothing that most travelers never wear on planes: suits or sport jackets for men. Nothing that is quote, "rumpled, wrinkled or mismatched."

In other words, the government wants its air marshals to look exactly like air marshals. Those who refuse will be suspended. Within the last month, at least four have been.

There's only one conclusion you can draw from a story like this. The federal government isn't really that serious about protecting you from terrorism on airplanes. A serious government would allow its air marshals to wear whatever helps them do their jobs. A serious government would profile passengers — paying closer attention to a 20-year-old Saudi man than an 80-year-old grandmother from Grand Rapids. A serious government would ignore the toe nail clippers and look out for bombs. But our government isn't very serious. Unfortunately, the terrorists are.

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JWR contributor Tucker Carlson is a journalist, college instructor, public speaker and host and managing editor of the PBS show "Tucker Carlson: Unfiltered." His first book is "Politicians, Partisans, and Parasites: My Adventures in Cable News."(Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) Comment by clicking here.

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© 2004, Tucker Carlson