Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Shoot Possible Bombers, Or Not?

A federal air marshal shot and killed a passenger on a flight from Colombia. According to Fox News, the passenger claimed to have a bomb and when confronted, fled down the passageway from the plane to the concourse. "It was the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks that an air marshal had shot at anyone, Homeland Security Department spokesman Brian Doyle said. According to a witness, the man frantically ran down the aisle of the Boeing 757, flailing his arms, while his wife tried to explain that he was mentally ill and had not taken his medication. The passenger indicated there was a bomb in his bag and was confronted by air marshals but ran off the aircraft, Doyle said. The marshals went after him and ordered him to get down on the ground, but he did not comply and was shot when he apparently reached into the bag, Doyle said."

Bad news for the family, but what if the man did have a bomb as he claimed? Should air marshals be more hesitant to use deadly force? Are we more likely to see incidents such as the shooting in Britain of an apparently innocent bystander? What would happen if a marshal decides not to shoot, allowing a bomb to be detonated?

We need to ask these questions now before another, possibly more tragic incident occurs. The safest course, though one fraught with risk, is to do as done today. One life was lost. This is a tragedy for his family, but it could have averted a larger one. Many people could have lost their lives as a result of a homicide bomber. We must make our priority the securing of American airways. Imagine the economic disaster that awaits if our skies become unsafe. Many businesses and people rely on safe airlines. Shipping cost could skyrocket if companies were forced to use ground transport. More dependence on foreign oil for the extra cars used because of flying fears. Economic havoc wreaked on America would be as important to those who want to destroy us as actually causing deaths. We need to remain vigilant and remain free at the same time. We must also resist those calls for revamping or doing away with the use of deadly force to protect our airlines that will surely come. We weren't there at the incident and don't know what caused the marshal to shoot, but we must remain ready to shoot. Our lives and freedom may depend on it.

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