Various news sources, including the Kansas City Star, and the local NBC affiliate are reporting that Missouri Highway Patrol Chief James Keathley has issued an order to stop distribution of a controversial report by the Missouri Information Analysis Center, a "Fusion Center " that provides intelligence and analysis for law enforcement. Reactions to the report, which lumped libertarian, Christian, anti-abortion, and Constitutionalist activism with racist, neo-Nazi and other right-wing extremists, created a backlash across the political spectrum.
Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat, was quick to distance himself and his administration from the report after Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder, a Republican, held a press conference to denounce the report. The report has quickly grown toxic with both Republicans and Democrats angling to score political points. The head of the Missouri Highway Patrol, Superintendent James F. Keathley denied having seen the report prior to its being publicized, but promised that MIAC reports would go through his office before being released.
The larger issue, which no one in authority has yet addressed, is what the "Fusion Centers" are, how they are overseen, and what kind of information they produce. I suspect that other "analyses" like the Missouri report have not come to light.
Washington Times Going Off Halfcocked
The Washington Times reported in a scathing editorial on Tuesday that the Obama administration has quietly diverted some 2 million dollars away from the armed pilot, Federal Flight Deck Officer program, and into a new program of inspectors to investigate existing FFDOs. TSA says the criticism is unfounded as they have a strong commitment to the success and growth of the FFDO program and that the $2 million shift is to provide administrative support for the program which they say has outgrown the current structure.
The real truth of the matter probably lies somewhere between the Times’ editorial and TSA’s claim. While the program has been steadily growing and probably is becoming difficult to effectively supervise, any time a bureaucracy adds more bureaucracy to improve “oversight” of a program, the result is almost always going to be more red tape and less progress. TSA has consistently drug their feet on the FFDO program; making the application and training process ridiculously complicated and intrusive and placing the only training facility in the most out of the way location possible. There are also issues of pilots not being reimbursed for many of the expenses that they must pay out-of-pocket. If ensuring adherence to the rules is becoming too difficult, rather than expanding the supervisory and compliance staff, the better solution would be to simply reduce the number of hoops FFDOs are required to jump through.
Airline pilots are highly trained professionals. Most of them have military experience and many continue service in the National Guard and Reserves. As Neal Knox said when he proposed creating an armed pilot program back in 1988; "If a captain can be entrusted with a $30-million aircraft and 300 passengers, he can be trusted with a firearm." Unfortunately the politicians and "experts" didn’t listen to Neal in 1988 when he pointed out that without the "last resort" of an armed pilot to protect an aircraft, commercial airliners are "sitting ducks" because no ammount of screening is ever going to be perfect. Since the attacks of 9/11/01 the options have narrowed even further because if the pilot and crew can’t maintain control of their aircraft, the next alternative is a missile from a fighter jet – a fighter jet which is very likely to e piloted by a current or future airline pilot. Does anyone question the wisdom of that pilot being armed?
Continue reading Fewer Guns in Cockpits?