Reports today identify that U.S. intelligence has “chatter” indicating that terror cells intended to use prosthetic appliances and medical equipment to hide explosives. Public discontent will not be assuaged; discontent will run deeper as we add a collective insult to intelligence and common sense to the physical invasion.
This is a reflection of how the administration views the great unwashed. If, in advance of changes in airport security procedures the administration had shared the generalized intelligence regarding terrorist intent, would the public reaction have been different? Oh, by the way, use of prosthetics is not new intelligence and has been available as open source material for some time.
The answer to the rhetorical question is, yes they would have. Individuals with prosthetics could have been sorted into alternate screening lines and processed with an additional explanation and a modicum of sensitivity. That being the case, we would not be where we are. That would have actually addressed the “threat”, no such luck.
The administration opted for general dictation absent explanation other than “this is the only procedure that can insure the security of the traveling public”. The fact that it comes eleven months after the Christmas bomber provides proof positive of how long it takes a bureaucracy to move to address a threat.
Ideology and assumptions by the administration consistently run into a stone wall of reality! Security, diplomatic engagement, Iran and Gitmo all crushed by that reality apparently requiring months of ideological debate generally resulting in the wrong answer.
A mindset that doles out “rights” like penny candy challenged to the point of paralysis by the need to factor basic personal liberties into the security equation. “We’re all the same”, we need to address security as a collective program, no exceptions! There will be no targeted screening, no multi-tier profiling, no communication; six-year old girls, same as everyone else. Conjure up the crux of the decision point: “OK, no profiling, what else can we do? Harass everyone! Welcome to the Orwellian collective!
What happens when we get chatter about body cavity explosives, already attempted twice in Saudi Arabia as a tool of assassination? What happens when the chatter discusses ingested explosives? Drug dealers have been using ingestion for decades; why not terrorists?
The actual context of the dysfunction is staggering and makes it yet more difficult to accept the wisdom of current TSA practices. The dysfunction highlighted by ongoing reports beginning in 2006 that Islamists have made common cause with drug cartels, consistently moving dangerous individuals over the southern border, specifically by Hamas. The explosive of choice, PETN is difficult to identify by current methods and technology unless we stumble across a brassier bomb during fondling.
We may have deterred plans that call for boarding a plane in the U.S. with explosives. We have not de-motivated planning that would call for boarding U.S. bound planes in foreign airports, nor can we control security procedures in foreign airports. We may face a situation where the Saudi’s are unable to come up with the UPS tracking numbers; what then?
Analysis’s opine that al Qaeda is just a “rag tag” bunch, not many of them, only 200 in Afghanistan. Efforts to minimize the terror risk equation met with the reality of our current airport screening procedures. Which is it?
Is the “chatter” a set up? Will terrorists continually “leak” plans and intentions to judge the U.S. response and consume U.S. resources? Have they decided that watching us chase our tails is as effective as actually exploding something? To the best of our knowledge airport security may have acted as deterrence. The fact is simple; no one caught and detained at airport screening!
One of two situations is the case. Terror cells deciding that U.S. airport security is not worth the risk or we missed it. Most significant terror plots have originated outside of the U.S. targeted at incoming flights. While domestic terror jeopardy is a rising tide, it is not yet a mature point of jeopardy as it lacks direct state sponsorship or fully evolved organizational support required to mature the threat.
We may justifiably congratulate ourselves on the failure of terror threats. We may point to the lack of success as a demonstration of terrorist incompetence. There are good, committed people working hard to minimize threats. Those people, however, work within the context defined by the administration and that context is guided by a world view that is, in application, frequently incomprehensible. This is such a case.