Monday, December 28, 2009

The Failure To Connect The Dots; Air Security Still Lagging

Harry Smith at CBS grills DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano who finally admits that they screwed up and where the bomber, Abdul Farouk Abdul Mutallab, put on the TIDE list and not elevated to further scrutiny, managed to bring explosives sufficient to take down an aircraft on board but was thwarted only by an alert passenger.

The security system put in place after 9/11 and then after the Richard Reid shoe bomber case didn't thwart the attack; it was the Flight 93 Let's Roll mantra by passengers refusing to go quietly to their deaths that thwarted the attacks. The screening system failed. The failure by the bomber was due to a quick thinking passenger who risked his own life to stop the bomber from detonating what appeared to be a sufficient amount of explosive to take down Northwest Airlines Flight 253.

Further restrictions on what can be brought on board the planes, let alone whether a person can have bags in their possession during the last hour of the flight or that passengers will not be allowed to go to the restroom in the last hour of the flight will not prevent terrorism of this kind; the terrorist may simply try to blow up the plane after takeoff or at any point in the course of the flight.

It is merely to give the appearance of doing something about air safety. Actually taking action to thwart terrorism requires more stringent security protocols and more invasive methods that are all too likely to rankle civil libertarians and to impose further costs on flying. Technologies that could detect certain explosives aren't fully deployed around the world, and scanners that can literally see through the body aren't being deployed because of privacy concerns, even though they may have been able to detect the explosive underwear that Mutallab was wearing.

So, the two measures that have done the most to improve air security to date have nothing to do with the security at airports; it has everything to do with installing armored cockpit doors and passengers who aren't going to sit back and let hijackers or terrorists fulfill their plot aims.

This isn't just a failure to connect the dots; it may now include providing al Qaeda with more dots. Two of those who were apparently involved in the planning of the attack on Northwest Air Flight 253 were previously detained at Guantanamo Bay, but were released to Saudi Arabia.
American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.
Guantanamo prisoner #333, Muhamad Attik al-Harbi, and prisoner #372, Said Ali Shari, were sent to Saudi Arabia on Nov. 9, 2007, according to the Defense Department log of detainees who were released from American custody. Al-Harbi has since changed his name to Muhamad al-Awfi.
 So, once again, detainees released under the misbegotten idea that closing Guantanamo Bay is a good idea has turned out to be a stupendously bad one as detainees who were out of the fight were able to rejoin the jihad and plot, plan, and carry out attacks against the US and our interests around the world.

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