Another Opinion: Christmas attack exposes federal failures
President Obama announced this week that he had ordered a complete examination of this country’s air travel safety protocols, including the terrorist watch list that’s supposed to prevent jihadists from boarding commercial jetliners.
He shouldn’t bother. After the Christmas scare aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, during which a 23-year-old Nigerian man claiming al-Qaida ties tried to blow up the plane with explosives he had smuggled on board, it’s safe to say the multibillion-dollar bureaucracy created in response to the 9/11 attacks can’t stop even the stupidest terrorist.
The suspect in Friday’s attack, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was added to a database maintained by the U.S. National Counterterrorism Center only last month, after his father, a reputable banker, took the extraordinary step of visiting the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria to warn officials of his son’s newfound extremist views and his association with radicals. Britain had denied the young man a student visa in May.
Abdulmutallab then paid cash for his ticket and checked no luggage, giving airline workers another warning sign to justify, at a minimum, questioning by security personnel.
Just as Richard Reid had bungled his December 2001 attempt to bring down a passenger jet with a shoe bomb, Abdulmutallab couldn’t make his liquid-and-powder explosive device work. But in burning himself, he also burned the industrialized world’s extravagant safety measures.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano initially said “the system worked,” then clarified her remarks Monday, saying the “system did not work in this instance,” and that “air travel is safe.”
No thanks to the federal government.
President Obama should take back the blank check given to Homeland Security – especially the Transportation Security Administration – before it manages to make air travel so intrusive and inconvenient that no one vacations or does business outside a day’s drive. Additional travel restrictions, like the preposterously strict, temporary ones imposed in response to the Christmas attack, will cause more damage to tourist economies like Nevada’s.
Stop searching disabled grandmothers and seizing milk from families with newborns, and start putting our resources into stopping people who fit the terrorist profile – especially people who’ve been identified as potential terrorists – before our cowardly preoccupation with political correctness costs American lives … again.