Security failure in bomb incident expose system’s weakness

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The explosive allegedly used in the failed bombing plot aboard a transatlantic jetliner over Detroit on Christmas Day could have been detected by existing screening equipment, and the failure to do so reflects significant weaknesses in aviation security and intelligence, former U.S. government officials and international security experts said.

The compound that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab allegedly brought aboard Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam was PETN, or pentaerythritol tetranitrate, the same plastic explosive used almost exactly eight years ago by would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid, the FBI said. The attack sped the launch of the Transportation Security Administration, which took over and expanded airport security screening.

But technology and methods that might have detected the explosive have been deployed in airports on a limited basis in the face of concerns about privacy, cost and the potential to slow airport security lines.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchTravel* Economics, PoliticsTerrorism

Posted December 28, 2009 at 5:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. David Keller wrote:

A system designed to react to bombs will never make us safe.  We will never have security until we stop looking for bombs and start looking for terrorists. The universe of potential airplane bombers is very small. All airplane bombers are Islamic males between the ages of 16 and 40.  It is OK for your 90 year old grandmother from Indiana to go to the bathroom during the last hour fo a flight, or have a blanket and pillow, or carry gallons of liquid on a plane. It is not OK for Islamic males between the ages of 16 and 40.  Until we come to grips with that fact we will be unsafe and inconvenienced. And for those in the Islamic community who object to our looking for terrorists—turn them in so we don’t have to waste resources looking for them, and then we will all be safe.

December 28, 11:52 am | [comment link]
2. Jim of Lapeer wrote:

Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that some brainiac at TSA published its entire security manual in a format that could be viewed by everyone with encryption?

Maybe the terrorists were just tryng some of what they learned from that ridiculous lapse in security.
I’m with David Keller, until we abandon our political friendly correctness and get serious as Israel has, we will never be safe.

Grandmas go through, the guy Middle Eastern man gets the once over. If he doesn’t like it, tell him to ask his Imam to preach against terrorism. That would be a start.

December 28, 12:35 pm | [comment link]
3. Sarah wrote:

It’s really incredible.  A guy already on the 400,000 watch list and whose father specifically called multiple times to warn about him in the months previous toddles on through the security lines with his liquid explosives.

And the result of that massive failure in security is . . . . more regulations on travelers who are not on watch lists.

December 28, 1:11 pm | [comment link]
4. Northwest Bob wrote:

#1 and #3 Boy, that is the truth!  Some TSA heads should roll over this.  Many travellers cannot go that last hour without a trip to the rest room.  This would include NW Bob.  :-(  The problem is not carry on luggage and trips to the rest room.  The problem is who is doing the carrying.  If you have ever flown in and out of Israel, you have seen what what real airport security is! 
Anyway, Merry Christmas!
NW Bob

December 28, 5:26 pm | [comment link]
5. Bystander wrote:

Lets stop giving key appointments to political buddies to lead these agencies. Just give me competent and tough experienced proven leaders of their field. Napolitano is a joke.

December 28, 9:11 pm | [comment link]
6. David Keller wrote:

#4—The retired head of security for El Al recently said in an interview on Fox “You do a pretty good job looking for bombs.  When Are you going to start looking for terrorists?”  My son and I were at JFK a couple of years ago and we could see an El Al plane on the tarmac—there were two guards with machine guns by the plane.  The entry door at El Al had a sign posted which said something like “If you don’t belong here do not enter.  You will be shot.”  If I ever go to Isreal, I plan on flying El Al.

December 29, 10:55 am | [comment link]
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