With the fifth anniversary of 9/11 looming large and "United 93" stirring up all sorts of emotions, the NJ Transit police decided that today was the day to set up a security post at the Middletown train station and begin random searches.
The checkpoint was formidable and consisted of two tables, five heavily-muscled transit police and two bomb-sniffing dogs. I guess my pro-administration blogging was enough to get me past the stop zone without a search. Others, though, were patted down, IDs checked and bags inspected.
So, why did they choose today to initiate the random search? Did they pick up increased terrorist "chatter"? Did they receive a tip? Or, did someone in Trenton decide it was time to put the cops through some "real-world ops"?
I’m not sure whether to feel better or worse after walking through the checkpoint. If it turns out to be a one-off event, then I simply don’t get it. If it’s the start of an everyday routine, then I guess I feel a little bit safer.
Part of the "image" problem Homeland Security has suffered from since 9/11 is the seeming randomness and lack of continuity we see in supposed security enhancements. Airports are alleged to be leakier than ever. Buses and trains remain wide open targets. And, who knows what attention is being focused on "soft targets" like malls and department stores?
So, here’s hoping I see the NJ Transit police back at their Middletown checkpoint tomorrow morning, and every morning thereafter. We all know there’s a new type of war being fought. What we still don’t know is how effective our defenses are in battling our new enemy.