This Week in National Insecurity: Frequent Fliers Edition
Welcome, insecure reader, to the friendly skies of national defense! In this weekly link dump: Air marshals are freeloaders; WikiLeaks Wiki-locks down on its public image; dirty subs, built dirt-cheap; Iranian arms dealers stop for cheesesteaks; your granddaddy's Medal of Honor means bubkis at the White House; and a tea party Republican exaggerates just a teensy bit about his military experience.
The United States government's national threat level is Elevated, or Yellow. You're welcome.
- Sky marshals, who fly with you (for free) to prevent a hijacking, sit in first class a lot. Which airline executives don't like. Not because "a free ride in a fluffy seat" costs the airlines money, mind you, but because it's less secure. Silly air executives: Protecting profits is a national security issue. Every good free-marketeer knows that.
- Julian Assange, head of the suddenly imploding site WikiLeaks, presents his case at a London conference titled "Too much information? Security and censorship in the age of Wikileaks". Also, he bans all photographic and recording devices while he speaks. Too much irony?
- What's long, hard, and wrapped in a "Wal-Mart tarp"? The Navy's new $2 billion submarines, whose super-stealth coating falls apart in the water. It turns out that cutting costs on the construction of nuclear vessels is not totally a good thing.
- What's the best investigative national security story you haven't heard about? It's this Philadelphia Inquirer series about how authorities used a storefront sting to ensnare an arms dealer for the Iranian government, operating in a Philly suburb. Wait, what?
- We've said it before: If you're a descendant of the last African American Medal of Honor recipient in World War II, who rallied his fellow black troops and took out a bunch of Nazi gunner's nests after his white commander deserted, and you don't want to be turned away from a tour of the White House...don't wear shorts and a T-shirt bearing the likeness of your hero grandfather. It's just disrespectful.
- Tea Party House candidate, anti-Muslim, "Jack Bauer Republican", debtor, and loudly discharged ex-Army officer Allen West tells voters, "I have a clearance that even the president of the United States cannot obtain because of my background." Except that West doesn't, and his highest security clearance (that is, the one he held before threatening a beaten Iraqi detainee and firing a gun next to his head) was also held by 854,000 other people. Not including the commander in chief of US forces, who doesn't need a security clearance, because he's, you know, the commander in chief of US forces. On a slightly related note: Honor and integrity are two of the seven "Army Values." One thing West has been totally honest about is how he doesn't live in the congressional district he seeks to win. Hooah, Lt. Colonel (retired) West!