One of the most frustrating aspects of the Fort Hood shooting is how predictable it should have been, based on the prior actions of Major Nidal Malik Hasan. After years of tutelage under a known radical Muslim Imam, Hasan attempted to contact al Qaeda. He posted justifications of suicide bombing on the Internet and said several extremely disturbing things about "infidels" in front of his colleagues.
Not only is he not arrested, but he doesn't even seem to have been monitored. And according to new regulations issued in June, he is permitted to carry a privately purchased gun on base, like all other personnel at Fort Hood, provided that it is properly declared at the access point.
Compare this to the way the authorities treat perfectly harmless Americans every day. In government buildings -- even insignificant ones -- you can expect scent dogs, long lines, and metal detectors.
In airports, Americans are subjected to intrusive searches and interrogations. They are forced to take off their shoes and remove laptops and power cords from their bags. Their liquids and gels must be sorted and bagged according to a "3-1-1" system that is mostly incomprehensible, except that it clearly forbids bottles of wine and full tubes of toothpaste from being carried on board.
The rules are inhuman and exception-less. Any joke about bombs or hijackings leads to immediate arrest. A single stray bag is grounds for evacuating an entire airport. In June 2002, Former Vice President Al Gore was subjected to special searches twice on one trip to Wisconsin. (The only trace of the story online is at this aviation blog.) An aide to Ron Paul was detained earlier this year because he was carrying $4,700 in cash -- which isn't illegal, by the way (more on that later).
Things really aren't what they used to be.
Obviously, some level of airport security is necessary. It also makes sense to protect government targets, since government is supposed to guarantee the rule of law. But if the authorities are not even going to apply scrutiny to someone like Hasan when they have clear evidence that he is a malefactor, it really makes you wonder why we've nearly turned our country into a police-state since 9/11 in an effort to prevent acts of terrorism.