Steyn on Government Failures of Fighting Terrorism
| Nicolai Foss |
My favorite conservative commentator, Mark Steyn, has these acute observations on how private entrepreneurship may trump government action in the fighting of terrorism:
Most of what went wrong on September 11 we knew about in the first days after. Generally, it falls into two categories:
1. Government agencies didn’t enforce their own rules (as in the terrorists’ laughably inadequate visa applications.
2. The agencies’s rules were out of date — three out of those four planes reached their targets because their crews, passengers and ground staff all blindly followed the FAA’s 1970 hijack procedures until it was too late, as the terrorists knew they would.
… But on the fourth plane, they didn’t follow the seventies hijack rituals. On Flight 93, they used their cell phones, discovered that FAA regulations weren’t going to save them, and then acted as free men, rising up against the terrorists and, at the cost of their own lives, preventing that flight carrying on to its target in Washington. On a morning when big government failed, the only good news came from private individuals. The first three planes were effectively an airborne European Union, where the rights of the citizens had been appropriated by the FAA’s flying nanny state. Up there where the air is rarified, all your liberties have been regulated away: there’s no smoking, there’s 100 percent gun control, you’re obliged by law to do everything the cabin crew tell you … For thirty years, passengers surrendered their more and more rights for the illusion of security, and, as a result, thousands died. On the fourth plane, Todd Beamer and others reclaimed those rights, and demonstrated that they could exercise them more efficiently than government” (pp. 184-85, America Alone).