Following today's announcement by the British Security Service, three major security changes will be implemented immediately at Logan Airport.
- No liquids will be allowed through check-in.
- National Guard members will be posted as security.
- Assault rifles will be issued to state police.
The second is trickier. Nobody questions that we have serious problems with airport security in the United States, but none of those problems are solved — or even addressed — by posting National Guardsmen in airports. We've seen no evidence that any terror organization has ever plotted to create a disturbance inside an airport. The only rationalization I can see is that, if something tragic did occur in the air, a National Guard presence might help to keep a crowded airport calm.
But the third is just plain gratuitous. What's the purpose of equipping state troopers with assault rifles? There shouldn't be anything a state cop can accomplish in the middle of a crowded airport with an automatic that he can't accomplish with a .45 — and if there is, then he hasn't been trained sufficiently with his service weapon. For that matter, do state troopers receive any substantial training with assault rifles? Exactly what threat do we think this measure will deter?
When we re-opened airports following 9/11, we immediately banned curbside check-in. Nevermind that it had nothing to do with what happened; nevermind that the hijackers relied on a dozen different loopholes in our national security, none of which we were plugging while we inconvenienced travelers. We're fond of quoting Ben Franklin, who warned of trading liberty for safety — but we're not affecting safety, we're just spinning our wheels. And I object to equipping police officers with military weapons for the purpose of political cosmetics.