April 24, 2023

The Great American Security Blanket

So I just jumped on the Acela train from DC to NYC this morning (using its wonderful wi-fi right now, in fact) and noticed a whole bunch of TSA personnel in Union Station for the first time, that I’ve seen. I’ve always been of the opinion that our railways are particularly vulnerable, but I also accept the relevant fact that we can’t be a police state and that resources, including TSA personnel, are limited. If we have to choose, I’d certainly rather the TSA be in airports than in train stations.

Nevertheless, when a threat emerges, I’m also glad that we have the flexibility to redistribute security resources as needed to respond to changing threats. I have no clue why the TSA was deployed to Union Station today, or these days if it’s not just today, but I’m just glad they’re there.

In fact, this episode made me think about the whole benevolent Big Brother operation that is the U.S. Intelligence Community. Even though we don’t see them, don’t pay them enough, don’t value them enough, and don’t always have enough of them, the U.S. Intelligence Community members provide us with a blanket of security the importance of which we as a society really can’t even begin to comprehend.

In much the same way that we take it for granted that every time we turn on a faucet clean water comes rushing forth in virtually any dwelling in the country, we likewise take for granted the fact that we don’t need armed guards and up-armored vehicles to travel down a highway within our borders. In Egypt, where I used to live, they accomplish that objective in limited areas of the country by stationing police and military on the highways and o nearly every street corner in major cities. But here in the United States, our guardian angels sit behind computer screens at Ft. Meade and Langley. We may never see them, but we know they’re there, especially when we see TSA personnel suddenly appear at Union Station. Coincidence? I think not.