We reported in an article entitled “Presidential Executive Orders Now Required” on October 10, 2001 that:
“our airlines are at greater risk now than before the September 11th attack and both Congress and the Executive Branch are at fault.”
We further stated:
“Hear us Washington! We are mad and not fooled. We have no choice but to take matters into our own personal hands aboard flights. If someone or group attempts to take over the aircraft and or gain access to the cockpit, we, the individual passengers, must act to save our own lives in self defense and no Federal edict against this can prevent our action. Either you, in Washington act quickly, or anarchy will be the rule of the skies in our flights.”
And finally we stated:
“History has shown that Congress is not normally able to respond to such domestic civil defense measures with sufficient unity to speedily pass effective legislation to provide for this defense of the lives of the American public. Indeed, now for several weeks Congress has not passed effective legislation to provide real security for passengers of the commercial airline industry.”
It has now been nearly four weeks more since we wrote that article and it is true that now some airlines have beefed up their cockpit doors and there may be an occasional undercover Air Marshall aboard. Yet we continue to hear reports of people getting past the electronic pat down area with pistols and knives while we dutifully stop 75 year old grandmothers from boarding with her knitting needles.
In the movie The Ten Commandments, after his failure to stop Moses Caesar’s wife dug at him and asked bitterly “Do you hear laughter Caesar?” But it was not a laughing matter to Caesar and this deplorable security breech is not a laughing matter to the American passenger public. And if the electronic carry on screening is not bad enough, less than 10% of the checked baggage is being X-rayed or physically examined. Many bombs could be packed in that baggage by terrorists quite willing to die just to bring the aircraft down and create a “big event.”
Meanwhile, our national guard bravely and nearly meaninglessly stands guard at our airports, essentially doing nothing but enhancing the appearance to security. It would not be difficult to train them to examine baggage, vastly increasing the percentage of checked baggage that would be safe, at least until permanent personnel could be hired and trained.
Admirably, President Bush has tried to wait it out until Congress could pass a viable airline safety bill. That, however, has failed and is very unlikely to occur due to partisan political views for and against federalism. (The hiring of 30,000 federal employees to check the baggage). We cannot afford to wait longer. The political downside for President Bush will be enormous if another passenger plane is hijacked and crashed into some target. The President can ill afford to wait longer on Congress, nor does he have a Constitutional requirement to wait for Congress during time of war once Congress has effectively passed a declaration of war.
Still, if President Bush wants to chance waiting it out for Congress to pass a bill he can sign some compromise will be needed apparently. We recognize the political dilemma in Congress and offer a possible solution other than those being offered on Capital Hill. President Bush could maintain his objection to hiring some 30,000 federal employees to do the job of security needed and yet give the option to the various States to either hire private security firms or to provide State employees to perform the necessary security under federal guidelines and direct federal supervision. This might persuade enough Democrats to pass a bill acceptable to the President. Many of the States, for example, have a State Guard in addition to their State National Guard. The State Guard in some States has the mission of military police, thus they could be an immediate resource to the States for airport security.
Even if Congress did not show interest in this idea of using the States for security of airports within their boundaries, this could be incorporated in the needed Executive Order solving our dilemma. In our article on Presidential Executive Orders published October 10, 2001 we outlined a rather complete proposed Executive Order. We will not repeat that here although most of the measures outlined are still applicable. However, by utilizing the State machinery under federal guidelines and supervision, the public would feel secure and the federalists would be partially assuaged since State employees could be used and the decision would be up to the States. That would be a State’s rights thing to do and the football would be effectively passed.
Please, Mr. President, issue an EXECUTIVE ORDER this week for airline security.
Federation of States Staff