In light of the recent terrorist attempt on the North West Airlines  flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, are our US air security checks reactive or pro-active.  It seems that so many of the  procedures we have to go through react to that which has previously happened rather than  what might happen.  Does this make us safer?  Do people who want to hurt us keep trying the same failed attempts to do the same thing?


Should we start looking at Muslims closer?  Should we start profiling people rather than making everyone from infants to grandparents jump through the same hoops?   Has any terrorist caught not been a Muslim?  These are the questions that have been bandied about by the talking heads on TV this past weekend, since the detroit incident. 

Are we safer than we were before 9-11 and if yes, why?  It seems that billions of dollars have been spent on fancy equipment and when all is said and done, it is the passengers who are putting these terrorists down.  What can we do further to keep those who want to harm us and their materials off our planes and away from our people?

66 Thoughts to “Pro-Active or Reactive?”

  1. Rick Bentley

    Apparently he was in the air until about 3 PM, then he was in an underground bunker talking to advisors.

    He didn’t deign to speak to we the people until 8:30 PM.

    Yeah I think that with the nation in a state of confusion, just watching the footage over and over all day, he should have popped his head up and said something unifying.

    I think that if he hadn’t been in political cover-up mode, he would have.

  2. Rick Bentley

    And another observation that no one generally agrees with. When he did speak that night, he looked scared and shakey.

    By contrast Guiliani ended up looking like a national hero, because he didn’t look so scared.

    Bush got his footing back and went on to utter “bring it on” and all that, and to lead some great efforts at rooting out funding for terrorists, but that night he looked completely out of his element, frightened. He’s not a natural leader. He never was a natural leader. And he did a poor job that day.

  3. Emma

    And then he went on into ill-conceived, economy-draining wars that never delivered bin Laden. That’s a given.

    Good for you that you feel that President Obama projects the calm and leadership you feel was missing with Bush. I guess where we part ways is where I would like to actually see concrete actions and not words from afar, full accountability for system failures and not the incessant “blame Bush” chorus; proactive measures to deter terrorists and not the continual stripping away of our freedoms when we want to travel. When we line up like sheep and remove our shoes, are forced to hold our bladders the last hour of flight, and endure whatever else will get inflicted on the traveling public, we are helping to perpetuate the illusion that these measures give us “security”. They do not.

  4. Wolverine

    Rick, how do you personally know what Bush was thinking? And how do you know what transpired between Bush and Prince Bandar?

  5. Wolverine

    Emma, do not look at something like lining up and taking off your shoes as simply acting like sheep. What you are really doing is partnering with the security forces in an effort to defeat these bastards. If one’s attitude in this thing is not to make any personal sacrifices for the cause, then we are back into the old “Let George do it” — meaning to leave the whole burden on the authorities. And then ream them out thoroughly when they fail. Is the comfort of the traveling public more important than our lives?

    I’ll demur on holding your bladder for a hour before landing. That is kind of dumb. I believe that has been rescinded, has it not?

  6. Rick Bentley

    Emma, I didn’t say that Obama had projected anything positive yet. I like to think that if we’re attacked and we’re all sitting watching footage for 11 hours, he’ll say a word to us.

    Wolverine, it’s common sense.

  7. Emma

    “What you are really doing is partnering with the security forces in an effort to defeat these bastards.”

    Not really. Watching elderly folks being stripped of their orthotic shoes and patted down makes me feel like the bastards have won. The liquids ban has been a boondoggle to bottling companies and airport vendors, but has not made us one bit safer. I’ve never had to take my shoes off traveling from Europe. What’s next, no pants allowed, because Abdulmutalla set fire to his pant leg? Perhaps the next partnering effort should be allowing ourselves to be run naked through the puffer machines.

    “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither” — Benjamin Franklin.

  8. kelly3406

    The main topic here is whether additional steps need to be taken to identify potential terrorists. From my perspective, the real problem is our “inability to connect the dots”, i.e. we lack automated systems to integrate information and provide “red flags” to TSA at the airport. There was plenty of information from which to build a profile in this cae.

    Here is my amateur profile of the terrorist. He
    1) was from a predominately Muslim country (Nigeria);
    2) had recently traveled to a country frequented by Al Qaeda (Yemen);
    3) was identified to the U.S. embassy by his family (remember this was how the Unabomber was caught);
    4) did not check bags;
    5) had paid with cash;
    6) apparently did not have a passport;
    7) was single, unemployed and had no family in the United States (i.e. why was he coming here?);
    8) was on a terrorist watch list.

    Items 2, 3, 6, and 8 should have been enough by themselves for the Nigerian to be denied entry or at least receive additional screening.

    All the other stuff that we are doing would be much less necessary if we developed capable information systems that could flag potential terrorists automatically. The technology already exists (e.g. credit card companies can already identify potentially fraudulent transactions).

  9. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Emma :
    Perhaps the next partnering effort should be allowing ourselves to be run naked through the puffer machines.

    I’ve been thinking a career change to the TSA might become very “interesting” here pretty soon.

  10. Wolverine

    It would have been nice if Richard Reid had been obliged to take his shoes off before he got on that plane. Emma, YOU may know you are not terrorist. The security profiler cannot possibly know that until he has checked you out. Either everyone goes through the same security check or you force the security agent to pick and choose with regard to every passenger who appears before him. It is when the profiler only picks and chooses that he is most vulnerable to human error and possibly a fatal mistake. The job is hard enough without laying the pick-and-chose thing on him as his only option.

  11. Wolverine

    Sorry, Rick, you’re a good man; but the “common sense” thing won’t do it. Accusations like that need sourcing. Otherwise your “intelligence report” will be sent right back to you with the notation: “Unacceptable and not disseminated. We respect your personal viewpoint but our customers require reliable and verifiable sourcing.”

  12. Emma

    Wolverine, the point is that if everyonetakes their shoes off, then a terrorist will try to burn his pants. If everyone is banned from carrying on water bottles purchased outside the security area, a terrorist will find a way to have an explosive device surgically implanted. If everyone is banned from carrying nail clippers and pocketknives aboard, then a terrorist will use an 11-inch pointed metal knitting needle. There is simply no way to ensure that all possible bases are covered, unless you are willing to be stripped naked and cavity searched, and even then there is the possibility of a surgical implant.

    It’s false security, and nothing more than a temporary unburdening of higher levels of government from actually being tough on terrorism, communicating coherently with one another and using intelligence….intelligently.

  13. Wolverine

    Emma, I can agree to some extent with your para 2 in #46. But you still have to field a defensive team. The offense will not always be successful in stopping the attackers before they get to your front door. And it may take a very long time for that offense, no matter how skilled, to ferret out and slay all the dragons. Agreed that, when one tactic fails, the enemy will devise another and another and another. But you cannot just let the difficulty of the job get you to the point where you give up on it. That is precisely what the enemy wants you to do. You’ve got to keep up the home defenses until that time when the other part of your team can accomplish its mission, that is to “disrupt, pre-empt, and destroy.”

  14. Emma

    So you’d be good with stripping naked and undergoing cavity searches prior to flight?

  15. Emma

    Thinking of a job change, Slowpoke? 😉

  16. All of you all are making very convincing arguments. Emma feels like nothing we do will ever be enough. Much of what she says makes sense. But…I want them to have to work hard to kill me. When you have some psycho setting fire to his own crotch, where is there to go?

    Kelly is right…there is a failure to connect the dots. I believe we had the same problem with gun sales. Records were kept in shoe boxes at ATF for years. At what point do we start ,making the technology work for us. Do we need smarter people? Better technology? More ambitious people? Better software? It seems that all of those things can be obtained. Where is Israel? They are surrounded by this crap. Let’s get some advice from them. They are the experts.

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