The bombing failed not because of security measure but because the would-be bomber, a Nigerian who reportedly confessed to being trained by al Qaida in Yemen, couldn’t detonate the high explosive sewn into his underclothing. And he was overpowered by courageous passengers.
The TSA has issued a directive that all passengers to the United States from four countries on the U.S. list of “state sponsors of terrorism” will be patted down and their hand luggage will be searched, Sky News reported. Those countries are Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria.
Is this mind boggling or what?
Does this mean that up until now passengers even from countries officially listed as terrorists have not been subjected to extra thorough and careful screening and checking? What else could it mean?
The TSA confirmed that its new directive also will require patting down and hand luggage searches of passengers traveling to the U.S. from — you guessed it — Nigeria, Yemen and Pakistan.
On top of that, all air travelers to the U.S. from foreign countries will “be screened and the majority of passengers will be screened using threat-based or random measures,” a TSA official told Politico.com.
Significantly, according to the TSA official, the new approach “goes beyond simply looking at passports and now looks at itineraries from and through countries of interest … a significant step forward.”
Again, mind boggling. Nearly a decade after the devastating terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the TSA is saying only now is our air travel security system starting to look “at itineraries from and through countries of interest.”
You might have thought our security-intelligence system would have been interested in knowing the Northwest Airlines bomber’s travel didn’t start in Amsterdam where the flight originated but in Nigeria by way of Yemen and/or wherever else he traveled. Brilliant.
You have to wonder how we have escaped another major attack.
Meanwhile, the push is on for full body scanning at airports with U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) reversing himself a few days ago on this issue. He now says safety trumps concerns over privacy. On that point, new technology at least blurs facial features. It should be refined to the point that privacy concerns are alleviated.
The Dutch are moving to install body scanners at Amsterdam where the would-be bomber boarded Northwest Flight 253.
But regardless of high technology scanning, security experts say the most effective means of preventing terrorism in the air come down to intelligence — “surveillance, behavioral analysis and some form of profiling,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald. The newspaper quotes a former aviation security head: “We how have the stomach, I believe, for profiling.”
The Times of London put it more bluntly: “We ought to profile passengers.”
Amen. Careful profiling must be part of an effective security system. The new TSA itinerary checking should be the first step in that direction.