In October of 2004, I learned first-hand just how serious our federal government is about defending us from terrorists who threaten airliners; it isn't.
I was at Boston's Logan Airport, and had just checked in for my one-way flight to Baltimore where I would board a charter flight bound for Qatar. From there I was to take a military transport into Afghanistan where I would spend the next several months - I was an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
My one-way ticket to BWI automatically triggered a call for additional screening at the security checkpoint. Dozens of other people breezed through the magnetometers and retrieved their checked and carry-on bags from the x-ray machines' conveyor belts as I, military orders in hand that denoted my 'top secret' security clearance, dutifully removed my jacket, boots and dogtags and watched as a TSA agent who could barely speak English rifle through the big green bags containing my uniforms and other gear issued to me for the deployment.
Minutes earlier, at the ticket counter I had already declared and opened for inspection the locked case that contained the M-9 pistol that would be in my checked baggage. I was in civilian clothes (the Air Force, at the time, did not permit us to travel in fatigues), but it was certainly obvious where I was going and why.
That day, the intrepid people of the TSA protected everyone on the Delta Shuttle from a blond-haired, blue-eyed military officer with a Southern accent on his way to the "front lines" of the "Global War on Terror."
I don't fault the agent for following orders; I do fault the people at the top of the TSA and federal government who forbid the people on their "front-lines" from acting prudently and focusing on people who may represent an actual threat.