By now, most of you know that there was an attempt by a jihadi affiliated with al-Qaeda to take out an airliner by igniting a metal dectector resistant plastic explosive known as PETN hidden in his underwear. The attempt only failed because the chemical detonator malfunctioned the first time and because a courageous passenger on board, was willing to mix it up with the bomber and subdue him, aided by the other passengers.
The bomber was a Muslim (what a surprise!) from Nigeria, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. According to my sources, his lawyer has already filed assault charges against the passengers and crew for assault and grave bodily injury, citing charges currently filed against some Navy SEALS as a precedent.
OK, I may have made that last bit up, but what actually happened was just as ludicrous. The Obama Justice Department immediately indicted Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, disregarding the fact that he told the arresting officers he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his explosives at an al-Qaeda training camp in Yemen. That means that Abdulmutallab is only subject to the same type of interrogation given any other defendant in a criminal case, with a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.
So unless he decides to cooperate voluntarily, we can forget about learning any more about his contacts in Yemen, or any networks or ongoing plots he might be familiar with.
Even worse, we had a pretty good idea of whom we were dealing with before Abdulmutallab even got on the plane, except that just as in the Clinton era, there were 'walls' put between different data bases designed to safeguard the legal rights of potential terrorists rather than to enhance US security against them. Abdulmutallab's own father back in Nigeria, a fairly wealthy banker, went to the trouble of going to the US consulate and informing them that his son had become involved with Islamic extremists and that he thought his son had visited Yemen and come into contact with jihadis based in Yemen.
The embassy took a report, sent a cable and Abdulmutallab wound up on a database, but not the database that would have put him on the no-fly, no visa list.Even the Brits got that one right..
Yemen has been a major destination of 'catch and release' jihadis we've decided to spring from Club Gitmo, even though our intel officials have raised alarms about Yemen as an emerging al Qaeda sanctuary for at least a year. Is it so surprising that this would come back to haunt us?
This is essentially a symptom of the Obama Administration's entire approach to Islamist terrorism, which is to handle it as an annoying legal problem rather admitting we're in a war, and almost everything they've done, the mirandizing of jihadis captured on the battlefield, the numerous speeches by Obama apologizing to the Muslim world for G-d knows what, the threatened prosecution of CIA interrogators and the show trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York City are all part of a pattern. And if all this sounds familiar, it's exactly the way the Clinton Administration handled things, with results we're all too familiar with.
Even with al-Qaeda taking credit for the bombing and Abdulmutallab's clear ties to them, President Obama still persisted in calling him an 'isolated extremist' during his brief remarks on the bombing between tee off times.
Nor is it just the Obama Administration. What do you know? As luck would have it, Two of the four leaders reportedly behind the al-Qaeda crotch bomber plot were released by the U.S. from Club Gitmo back in November, 2007 to the custody of the Saudis after Condi Rice took over these matters, where they were put through a " rehabilitation program" and were set free after promising to never ever to do it again.
No wonder Abdulmutallab says there are more where he came from. There are, and not just from places like Yemen but our own home grown radical Muslims like the Fort Hood killer Major Hasan.
So how did the Obama Administration and Homeland Security react to all this? With a set of onerous new regulations for airline passengers and promises to 'review the system' - the one the dimwitted head of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano initially said worked just fine and then had to backtrack and admit it didn't once she realized even the normally compliant dinosaur media was laughing at her.
What's next - mandatory cavity searches before you're allowed in an airplane?
We need a new 'system',but even more we need a brand new attitude.
There is a great deal I could say about this subject, but for the sake of simplicity, let's limit our discussion to airline security.
Holding airline passengers hostage and continually restricting their movements or what they can carry onboard simply avoids the obvious. We need to target the terrorists,rather than their tools.
In a word. profiling.
And by that, I'm not just speaking about ethnic or religious profiling, but psychological profiling, done by highly trained security personnel who know how to read body language and ask questions.Many of the people working for the TSA are obviously trying to do their jobs to the best of their ability, but the vast majority are the sort of people you'd find working at your local Department of Motor Vehicles or the post office, with all that implies.
The Israelis were forced to confront this problem some time ago for obvious reasons, and they've developed a unique and highly successful way of handling this. The last time a plane with a significant number of Israeli passengers was involved in an 'incident' was the 1973 hijacking of an Air France plane to Entebbe, and even that took place out of the notoriously lax Athens airport.
Airline security Israeli-style starts well before you reach the ticket counter. At Ben Gurion Airport, There's a checkpoint manned by a police officer and several well armed guards backing him up.The police officer will speak to you briefly, check your passport( the norm on passport checks to get on board an El-Al airplane is five times) and if you or your body language arouse their suspicions, they err on the side of caution and will either pull you over for a search right there and then or call ahead to the terminal and flag you to let the security guards there know you require special attention.
When you go into the terminal with your luggage, there's security watching you, and if you arouse any suspicions or seem overly nervous, you can expect more questions.
All El Al terminals worldwide (not just in Israel) are staffed by a number of very well trained plain-clothes and uniformed security agents who are fully armed and watch what's going on like hawks(don't ever leave a carry on bag or a back pack just laying around on a bench somewhere).And yes, like I said, they profile. Mahmoud the Pakistani student on his way to Londonistan is going to receive a lot more scrutiny than Mrs. Goldfarb, the elderly grandma on her way back to New York.
All passengers and luggage are checked by highly trained security agents and every passenger is subjected to those famous personal interviews. Passengers will be asked questions about where they came from, where they're going and why, who they visited in Israel, whether they packed their bags themselves,whether anyone gave them a package to take..almost anything you can imagine.
An example of how well this works involved the true story of a pregnant Irish girl who told the Israeli security officers that yes, her Palestinian fiance had given her a gift to bring home to her parents. When the Israelis carefully unwrapped it, they found a bomb set up to detonate over the Mediterranean.
But wait, there's more.
At the check-in counter the passengers’ passports and tickets are closely examined. A ticket without a sticker from the security checkers will not be accepted. At passport control passengers’ names are checked against information from the FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Scotland Yard, Shin Bet, and Interpol databases. Luggage is screened and sometimes hand searched. In addition, bags are put through a decompression chamber simulating pressures during flight that could trigger explosives.El Al is the only airline in the world that passes all luggage through such a chamber. Even at overseas airports, El Al security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, even if they are supervised by government or private security firms.
After all that, making passengers take off their shoes or taking away their water bottles or aftershave is unnecessary. And timewise, the procedure takes no longer than the normal check in time at a US airport, provided you haven't aroused anyone's suspicions and been subjected to extra questioning.
The key, of course is highly trained personnel unafraid of being sued or reprimanded simply for doing their jobs. Which of course is why Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano's current trip to Israel to observe all this firsthand is a waste of time, since the Obama Administration's top priority in these matters seems to be 'Thou shalt not offend Muslims, no matter what'.
To actually resolve the problem of airport security threats, you have to admit where those threats originate from and acknowledge that frisking a housewife from Kansas while letting an Imam from Brooklyn pass through in the name of political correctness is not only stupid, it's suicidal.
I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't see the current occupant of the White House or his minions going there. Instead, they will be content to suffer an incident here and an incident there, since that's easier than acknowledging the real problem and actually doing something about it.
The death of a thousand cuts will likely continue.