In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Barack Obama insisted that America needs to invest in today’s high-tech world, and what better way to do that than to spend lots of money on 19th-century transportation technology? In fact, Obama used the word “rail” or “railroad” as often in the speech as he did the word “economy,” seven times (with “economic” counting for another two).  This is silly enough as it is, but Obama tried joking about the ability to bypass security with high-speed rail, which is simply untrue.  Click the image to watch:

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail. (Applause.) This could allow you to go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying –- without the pat-down. (Laughter and applause.) As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

If Obama thinks that high-speed rail — or any other kind of rail — won’t need higher security, he hasn’t paid much attention.  While al-Qaeda has limited its major attacks in the US to airlines, they’ve proven themselves adept at massive and coordinated attacks on train systems in other nations.  Madrid saw almost 200 people killed in the 2004 attacks, and another 56 in the London attacks in July 2005.  There have been a few warnings about plots against subways here in the US, too.

Just two months ago, Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security warned that the US needed to increase security at train stations, among other transportation:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said this week that her department is considering beefing up security on trains, ships and mass transit amid a public backlash over the body scanners and “enhanced” pat-downs at airports across the country.

When asked what terrorists will be thinking in the future, Napolitano said Monday on “Charlie Rose” that they will “continue to probe the system and try to find a way through.”

“I think the tighter we get on aviation, we have to also be thinking now about going on to mass transit or to trains or maritime,” she said. “So what do we need to be doing to strengthen our protections there?”

Besides, it sounds as if Obama himself is questioning the need for patdowns.  If he thinks they’re unnecessary, why hasn’t he directed DHS to stop conducting them?  The people who have to endure them don’t consider it a joke, Mr. President.

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