On Airports, Refugees, and Security Vetting

By Dan Cadman on November 12, 2015

It sometimes seems to me that political correctness will be the death of us all; if not literally, then certainly as a cohesive society and an identifiable nation.

My colleague David North highlighted that most recently when he blogged about former CIA director James Woolsey publicly observing that poorly vetted Somali refugees were working as baggage handlers at U.S. airports, including Phoenix.

This should not be a surprise. Anyone who has passed through Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., (and several other airports) with their eyes open in recent years will be aware that a significant portion of the support and maintenance personnel working behind the "secure" line are from the Horn of Africa.

But it is disturbing. A number of Somali refugees and their children have left the "Little Mogadishu" area of Minneapolis, traveling abroad to join al Shabaab Islamic extremists in Somalia, as well as Islamic State terrorists in Syria.

The PC mavens will undoubtedly react to such comments with hostility, pointing out how many (pick your nationality here: Somali, Syrian, etc.) are legitimate refugees compared with the pitiful few who have done such a thing. But as has been noted before, homeland security professionals have to be successful 100 percent of the time; terrorists only have to be successful once to wreak havoc — as the downing of the Metrojet in Sinai has once again shown.

Woolsey's comments about the poor vetting process that accompanies refugees should be fueling concerted congressional and public protest against the administration's Syrian refugee processing plan, which cannot possibly credibly separate wheat from chaff where Islamists are concerned. But it doesn't seem to be, despite the obvious outrage many feel about immigration processes under Obama, if the presidential campaign is any indicator.

And now that the token hearings are over in the House and Senate chambers, I suppose we must resign ourselves to the arrival of these uncertain populations, come what may in the years thereafter. My fear is that we will unthinkingly and unnecessarily make many of the same bad choices the French have made, admitting large numbers of people who, once here, will likely rebel heart and soul against the permissive nature of the society that they see around them, sometimes leading to tragic consequences.

But there is something that can be done about airport workers. In a posting I wrote a couple of months ago, I noted that the House subcommittee on transportation security approved, and moved to the full committee for consideration, H.R. 3102, the Airport Access Control Security Improvement Act of 2015. I observed that the bill is flawed because, as written, it would permit an even wider pool of aliens to work in the secure zones of airports, including parolees and other recipients of the Obama administration's "executive action" largesse. That bill passed the House, unmodified, on October 6 and awaits Senate action.

If senators were, for once, to act like the mature upper chamber of elder statesmen (and ladies) that they fancy themselves, they would take up their own version of the bill — one that completely eliminates these gaping holes in our airport security system that continue to exist 14 years after the 9/11 attacks.

Do I think they will? Probably not. But they could.