CSM: Why did US let Abdulmutallab get on a plane to Detroit?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano insisted Sunday that there was no “specific and credible” information to put the alleged attempted bomber of Northwest Flight 253, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, on the federal “no fly” list.

Yet for the second time in a month, the Obama administration finds itself defending its lack of action against a suspect whose tendencies toward radical Islam had been reported to authorities.

The cases are, of course, different.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

Posted December 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. RichardKew wrote:

This morning on the BBC World Service I heard a very convincing security specialist make the point that we are using 1960s methods to fight 2000s terrorism in the air, which means we are always one step behind those who would do harm in flying planes. As the saying goes of generals that they are always preparing to fight the last war, so it is true of the way in which we counter terrorism.

His argument used Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as the example. He bought his ticket with $2,000 cash in Accra, Ghana, in order to fly from Lagos, Nigeria, through Amsterdam, Netherlands, to the USA. His father had already reported to the US Embassy in Nigeria that he thought his son might be a terrorist threat, something that no father would do without severe provocation. He flew without checked baggage and was alone. These were just the main points.

Each of them on their own might not amount to anything but together they make a clear case that passenger profiling should be an essential part of the security process, and not something we should shy from for fear of ethnic discrimination. This expert pointed out that there is nothing racial, ethnic, or whatever about this kind of profiling, it is to do with behavior that might predict further behavior.

While it is important to check what a suspected terrorist might be carrying with him, it is more important to tag him/her then thoroughly inspect suspects prior to them getting anywhere near an airplane. Sophisticated software can flag such individuals, although there is the inevitable grunt work that needs to be done when they are identified.

As the guy pointed out, customs officers have for decades watched the behavior of passengers as they leave a flight, plane, whatever, and enter a new country. They look for actions, body language, attitudes that suggest they are carrying contraband of some kind in. If this is allowable, why should we avoid profiling suspects in order to protect the millions of innocent people who fly with them?

Remembering the amounts of information that are stored about most of us in data banks around the world, perhaps now is the time to use that information in a constructive way to protect us from the likes of this misguided young man.

December 28, 4:15 am | [comment link]
2. paradoxymoron wrote:

Gee, one-way ticket, no luggage, paid in cash?  I don’t see any method at all, much less a 1960’s method.  Disgusting.

December 28, 6:09 pm | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:

Not to mention that the guy was on a watch list for Pete’s sake!

December 28, 9:16 pm | [comment link]
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