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"Dominate. Intimidate. Control.".

While the litany of horribles James Bovard cites concerning the Transportation Security Administration's ineptitude and high-handedness ("'Dominate. Intimidate. Control.,'" February) is certainly enraging, his alternative--putting airlines and airports in the business of providing security and punishing them with crippling lawsuits if they fail to deliver it--seems unworkable and unfair.

No amount of "better" intelligence from the feds will enable the private air travel system to thwart every terrorist attack. Yet if Bovard's solution were adopted, every such attack would result in "devastating" lawsuits against air carriers and airports, possibly driving them to financial ruin. Billions of dollars in settlements might be at stake for years, while litigants argued over whether the reds gave timely information or not, or whether some other party (how many airlines and airports did the 9/11 hijackers use again?) bore more culpability.

The affected defendants would be under a financial cloud that would prevent them from getting private capital needed to fund expansion or retire old equipment. The result would be a degraded air transportation system that would put a huge dent in economic prosperity. Only trial lawyers could love such an outcome.

And what's this about the need for "amending U.S. foreign policy to reduce the number of foreigners willing to kill themselves to slaughter Americans"? Exactly which policies need to be amended to placate and appease Osama bin Laden? Support for Israel, the only democratic state in the Mideast? We've already withdrawn our troops from Saudi soil, and Al Qaeda's leaders still talk openly of "chasing us" all over the globe.

I think Norman Mineta is an incompetent horse's ass; he should be fired and the TSA monster defanged. But please, let's not engage in the idiocy of blaming the U.S. for global terrorism or suggest that private airlines and airports should bear the brunt of providing absolutely perfect security, with bankruptcy as the penalty for failure.

John E. Link Belmont, MA
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Link, John E.
Date:May 1, 2004
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