‘System’? What ‘system’?

For starters, we probably should no longer accept as a given that their Orwellian computer networks don't communicate with each other, unless it is to mistakenly list innocent people on their watch lists. Why should that be something that we tolerate?

It's still another "Cool Hand Luke" situation. As in, "What we have" is a "Failure to Communicate." Or as our cool hand president prefers to call it. "A Systemic Failure."

The problem with that description is it would require some sort of "system." A typical dictionary defines "system" as "...an instrumentality that combines interrelated interacting artifacts designed to work as a coherent entity."

The problem is that word "coherent." You can't have coherence if one part doesn't communicate with the other. What you have is chaos, which is all too easy for deadly dangerous maniacs to exploit.

The knee-jerk reaction from those who are supposed to protect this dangerous terrain is to constantly demand even more authoritarian power and to belittle anyone who raises civil rights concerns. They are joined by their political advocates who know a partisan opportunity when they see one.

The truth is, the last thing we need to do is give more police-state power to a bunch of keystone cops who are running off in a million different directions. What we really need to do is police the police.

Let's be fair. It is uncommonly difficult to stay ahead of fanatics who dedicate their entire beings to coming up with creative new ways to cause mass destruction.

But this wasn't a new way. "Underwear Bomber" Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was simply borrowing from Richard Reid's "Shoe Bomber" playbook of eight years ago.

Then and now, we were saved, not by our security apparatus, but by the bombers' ineptitude. Sad to say, what this latest incident exposes is ineptitude that should have been corrected long ago but hasn't been.

Yes, let's provide our protectors all the support we reasonably can. But let's make sure they know how to use it. Obviously too many of them do not. It's as plain as under the clothes that we're wearing.

Visit Mr. Franken's website at www.bobfranken.tv.