Where Does the Money Go?

It is really hard to not be cynical about our counter-terrorism efforts, especially as new details emerge about the Christmas day attempt emerge. I’ve always been of the mindset that it is going to be impossible to stop every attack- people are ingenious, and if they really want to attack us they will figure out a way. People are still able to escape from prisons, and we have hundreds of years of experience and have spent trillions on corrections over the years. The goal should be to balance our way of life with our attempts to be as safe as possible.

Having said that, I’m really not sure how we can ever expect much out of our security efforts if, eight years after 9/11, a disaffected Muslim from Nigeria whose father warned authorities can buy a one way trip to the United States, pay cash, and then board the plane with explosives sewn into his underwear. Maybe if he was wearing a t-shirt that said “I’m carrying a bomb” we would have had more success.

Shouldn’t the one way ticket purchased in cash be a warning sign alone? Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash? Who does that besides drug runners and terrorists? What have we spent all this money on? How does the DHS justify its existence?






226 replies
  1. 1
    Ruemara says:

    exploding nigerian balls. goddess save me from the utter stupidity of life. It’s like we’re at the c level terror plots.

  2. 2
    valdivia says:

    did he buy his ticket in Nigeria? was that information passed along to Amsterdam? Also–how many tips like these exact one do we get every day around the world that result in nothing? Is the govt supposed to put this guy on a no-fly list based only on the word of his dad? Looking back all the info together makes the case, the question is how do you act on every single bit of information that comes to you about people who may be radicalized?

    Edit–Benen has made more or less my point much more eloquently:

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.c.....021657.php

  3. 3
    Violet says:

    I’ve been making that argument in other threads. In addition to the one-way ticket bought with cash, he didn’t check any bags. Added together, it’s a massive red flag. Where the hell were the DHS/TSA people? Why wasn’t he flagged for extra screening? At the very least he should have been given the explosives screening.

    Our system is very bad at doing what it’s supposed to do. Various parts don’t seem to talk to each other at all.

  4. 4
    spudvol says:

    Nigerians pretty much have to pay cash, what with the trouble they have getting the banks to turn loose of their millions.

  5. 5
    blahblahblah says:

    How does the DHS justify its existence?

    I spent the long weekend on a The Wire marathon. I now have an answer for you: By failure. It’s beautiful, we pay more if they fail, because clearly more of the same wasn’t enough… we need even more of that more so we won’t have more of that less. Next, if they succeed, by some meaningless statistical measure of nothing in particular, then that argues for additional monies too. I mean, don’t we want to promote success?

    And keep your head down. You want to keep your job, don’t you?

  6. 6
    gopher2 says:

    I did not know about the one-way ticket purchased with cash until I just read. Stunned, absolutely stunned.

    Everytime I’ve ever had a one way ticket (always purchased by a major corporation’s travel department with a credit card) I’ve been subject to secondary searches.

    What.A.Waste.Of.Money.

  7. 7
    Guster says:

    It’s not like there aren’t other countries with a longer track record dealing with this stuff.

    How do the Israelis deal with airplane safety? Is their method so burdensome that we couldn’t replicate it?

  8. 8
    SP says:

    As long as they’re doing something visible they’re justifying their existence. People see all the crap travelers have to put up with and figure that we’re trying our best, we must be stopping most of the bad guys, even if in reality it’s all just for show. Security theater is a ratchet- if you ever back off on some ridiculous precaution and something happens, you’ll be blamed for it, whereas if you declare that everyone has to fly naked and some guy still detonates a bomb hidden in his ass, well, we tried our best, didn’t we?

  9. 9
    NobodySpecial says:

    The older I get, the less competent any security agency that isn’t called the Police Department looks.

  10. 10
    CalD says:

    I think that having lists with half a million people on them kind of says it all. That’s a lot of people to try and keep tabs on — and of course those are just the ones we know enough about to want to try and keep tabs on them. And even knowing that much about that many people is a pretty daunting task in itself, not to mention a little scary when you start to think about how its done. At the end of the day the real key to fighting terrorism is improving peoples’ lives.

  11. 11
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    Why are you worried about this, John? According to an earlier post on this blog, Andrew Sullivan’s ex, Nate Silver, claims that you’re about as likely to be hit by lightening as by a terrorist bomb, or some such nonsense.

  12. 12
    Church Lady says:

    In June of 2007, my father had a medical emergency, and I had to purchase a one way ticket to Dallas at 9pm for a 6 am flight the next morning. I paid by credit card. When I got to the airport that morning to check in, my suitcase was taken aside by TSA and thoroughly searched and then swabbed. I was taken aside and thoroughly wanded. When I asked why I had been selected for “enhanced security” measures, I was told it was because I was flagged for purchasing a one way ticket less than 24 hours prior to departure. I guess our security system was working pretty well then.

  13. 13
    Violet says:

    @valdivia:
    Airlines have info on how tickets are bought. Any ticket bought with cash, especially one way tickets, should flag passengers for additional screening. You have to show your boarding pass to the security people – put some symbol on the boarding pass that requires the passenger go through extra screening. It’s just not that hard. It’s all computerized these days.

  14. 14
    John Cole says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone: Because we are apparently wasting a shitload of money. I’m not at all concerned about my safety when travelling.

  15. 15
    srv says:

    How does the DHS justify its existence?

    List one single thing the Dept. of Defense or any other three-letter agency has done in the last 20 years that justify their needed existence. Name one American life they’ve saved.

    DHS is a drop in the bucket. I, for one, would never question their budget if they could get their no-fly/check list updated so I could use the kiosk when travelling.

  16. 16
    Maude says:

    He should have worn pants that said, “I’m carrying a bomb”.

  17. 17
    debbie says:

    It’s very dispiriting that we’re really no further along than we were on Sept. 10, 2001, and that priority will be given to politicizing this instead of taking action to stop these kind of low-level terrorist actions.

    I remember when full-body scanning was first discussed, it was dismissed because it was too expensive. I wonder if that’s still true, considering how much has been spent on what now seem to be ineffective methods. Full-body scanning was also dismissed because it was too “invasive” of an individual’s privacy; I can’t imagine that there’s no technology available that would alter the scan from photographic to some sort of animated representation that would protect modesty but still reveal hidden/disguised objects.

    Nepolitano did exactly the wrong thing yesterday by taking the defensive road instead of voicing dismay that the system proved to be less effective than everyone had thought. She should have immediately called for an investigation of the entire DHS.

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Guster:

    How do the Israelis deal with airplane safety? Is their method so burdensome that we couldn’t replicate it?

    We could replicate it, but the airlines would not be able to make a profit, most likely. Armoured bagged holds, lengthy security searches and conversations, etc. People would just quit flying.

  19. 19
    Calming Influence says:

    To be fair, the DHS has to screen through the 20,000 people named Husein on the No Fly List before they can start worrying about flaming Nigerian balls.

  20. 20
    Joey Maloney says:

    @blahblahblah:

    Cf. the War on Drugs, as if it really needed to be said.

  21. 21
    Ash says:

    @Violet:

    I’ve been making that argument in other threads. In addition to the one-way ticket bought with cash, he didn’t check any bags. Added together, it’s a massive red flag. Where the hell were the DHS/TSA people? Why wasn’t he flagged for extra screening? At the very least he should have been given the explosives screening.

    Does anyone know, FOR SURE, how the DHS/TSA does this sort of stuff for flights that originate outside the country? Are authorities in Nigeria supposed to pass along information that someone bought a ticket in cash? Do American authorities have access to that information? Was he re-screened in Amsterdam? Did anyone there know about his suspicious behavior?

    There’s a lot of guessing and finger pointing, but I haven’t yet seen anyone who knows? I’m pretty sure the TSA doesn’t have universal authority like some seem to think.

  22. 22
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    Where the hell were the DHS/TSA people?

    They were in the US. This guy flew out of Amsterdam, so he was supposed to be screened by whoever’s in charge of airline security in the Netherlands and KLM is the one that was supposed to red-flag his ticket purchase.

    Happy as I am to bitch and moan about the TSA, this wasn’t their failure.

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I guess our security system was working pretty well then.

    Might be working pretty well now….the TSA doesn’t work Schiphol.

  24. 24
    Joey Maloney says:

    @Guster:

    Their screening methods work admirably for a country the size of New Jersey with a single international airport, near-universal military service, and a well-understood threat profile. But they wouldn’t scale.

  25. 25
    valdivia says:

    @Guster:

    it requires personal interviews when you are checking in by specially trained airline personnel before you even get to the check-in counter. sometimes they also check your bags thoroughly before you even check in. They trust the airlines there to get it done, I am sure they don’t here. Most of the people who do security in airlines in israel have recent military experience too.

  26. 26
    fraught says:

    I’m unclear about whether or not he actually burned his testicles off. If a person is willing to do that then we’re screwed. He will do what he has to do one way or another.

    That said, yeah, one-way ticket paid in cash should have blown a big whistle in someone’s office.

  27. 27
    ShortWoman says:

    Shouldn’t the one way ticket purchased in cash be a warning sign alone?

    Imagine that you are a college student. You do not have a credit card. You need to get from home to campus or vice versa, and you don’t need to return for 3 months. Do you buy a round trip ticket and risk losing your flight information in the meantime, or do you buy a one way ticket?

    Imagine that you are a young adult — still no credit card — living some miles away from your extended family. Your grandmother dies, and someone points out that granny had a car and if you would like it, it’s yours. You buy a one way ticket to her funeral, planning to driver her car home.

    Do you think for one minute that intelligent smugglers and terrororists don’t try to avoid the additional scrutiny of a “one way ticket”? All this proves is that this particular man wasn’t smart, which we also learned from the fact that he tried to set off an underwear bomb.

  28. 28
    Makewi says:

    Is this an example of Obama’s excellent diplomacy skills, getting the Dutch to do such a half ass job at vetting passengers?

  29. 29
    burnspbesq says:

    Every system ever designed by man has exploitable weaknesses. I suspect that there are airports all over Africa and Asia where security isn’t up to our standards and/or can be avoided by means of a little baksheesh, and where no amount of table-pounding by the US Ambassador is ever going to change anything. Our boy found and exploited one of those weakness by originating his trip in Nigeria.

    It is in the nature of things that the defense is always reacting to the offense in these matters. The only constructive thing to do is to learn from it when your shortcomings are exposed.

    It is also in the nature of things that you can’t ever completely eliminate human error from any system. I’ve gotten my little Spyderco knife through security at at least three airports in the US when I forgot to take it off my key ring and just tossed my keys in the bottom of my bag.

  30. 30
    vishnu schizt says:

    Somewhat on topic, but I flew in from Canada yesterday, the security at YVR (Vancouver) was a clusterfuck of incredible porportions. In the US departures terminal, they were searching each carryon bag and each person had a pat down, including a three year old boy in the line infront of me. We missed our flight, mostly because we (my g-friend and I) were on vacation and had no interest in the news and decided that one hour before the flight was plenty of time to arrive, but also the news reaction in Canada was subdued to say the least, the only reason we had any idea of the incident was due to the fact that I decided to get a complimentary paper on Sat and there buried in the paper under “world” coverage was an article on the incident. No front page screaming headlines, we spoke with a number of Canadians after the incident occured and not one of them mentioned it, even when discussing our travel plans. I’m convinced we as ‘mericans are completely out of our minds, scared shitless by our insane news cycle and opportunisitic politics. So now they’ll try to prevent what has already happened and the grand kabuki theater of airport security will continue to make air travel such a pain in the ass it may become a non-option

  31. 31
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    The TSA and everybody else in government know full well that your individual odds of being killed by a terrorist are microscopic, regardless of how much security is in place. Forgive me for going full commie here, but most security is for population control and not safety. Be good little citizens, shut up, and do what we tell you.

  32. 32
    El Cid says:

    @fraught: I think the fellow was under the assumption that he wouldn’t be experiencing any testicle burning due to the whole ‘blowin’ up and bein’ dead’ thing.

  33. 33
    Violet says:

    @Ash:

    Does anyone know, FOR SURE, how the DHS/TSA does this sort of stuff for flights that originate outside the country? Are authorities in Nigeria supposed to pass along information that someone bought a ticket in cash? Do American authorities have access to that information?

    Don’t know for sure. But he did fly on an American carrier (Delta/Northwest). Sure wouldn’t be hard to require them to confirm how all tickets were purchased, etc. Wouldn’t matter where the flight originated then. Of course the next terrorist would just fly KLM or BA or whichever non-US airline, but at least it would cover a lot of aircraft in the US.

    @Mnemosyne:

    They were in the US. This guy flew out of Amsterdam, so he was supposed to be screened by whoever’s in charge of airline security in the Netherlands and KLM is the one that was supposed to red-flag his ticket purchase.

    Why should KLM red-flag his ticket when he flew on Delta/Northwest? Was it a codeshare flight? In any case, we’re eight years post 9/11 and for years we’ve been hearing that one-way tickets bought with cash with no checked baggage were massive red-flags. Some sort of coordination between governments about this kind of info should be available. And if not, then why isn’t the TSA/HSA mentioning it and saying how they’ve TRIED to get cooperation, but the Netherlands won’t cooperate – or whatever. My guess – because they haven’t tried to get any cooperation and they still can’t connect any dots. So it still seems like a HSA/TSA failure to me.

  34. 34
    freelancer says:

    @Violet:

    I didn’t know the TSA had a presence in the Netherlands.

    too late, I see.

  35. 35

    The taxpayers should not be burdened with this waste of money. Let those who wish to subject themselves to the awful experience of flying the “friendly” skies pay for it. You aren’t more or less safe now than you were on 9/10/01. So called airline security is just a way for the government to pay for what airlines should be paying for out of their own pockets. This is the nanny-state shit that makes me crazy. This is almost exclusively a way to prop up a failing industry.

  36. 36
    jenniebee says:

    Hey – defunding the Maginot line makes you weak on national defense. Also, why do you keep bringing up the Ardennes? What, do you think that Nazism can be fought with forestry?

    Silly, dangerous liberals.

    This message brought to you by the National Council of Cement Interests, which reminds you that the cement industry employs 12,000 men and women nationwide.

  37. 37
    gopher2 says:

    @Ash:

    It’s not the “authorities in Nigeria” that have the information. It’s the airlines and I would imagine that Northwest Airlines knows that this guy bought a ticket on a Northwest Airlines plane with cash.

    Drudge is reporting he didn’t have a passport either.

  38. 38
    Waynski says:

    @Mnemosyne and Ash — Agreed. Not TSA’s fault in this instance. We should bomb the Dutch.

    And I’m pretty sure this is good for John McCain.

  39. 39
    Keith G says:

    @Ash: @Mnemosyne:

    Thanks for giving voice to wisdom, as if it will do much good.

    And, thank goodness Congress is out of DC, or the noise level would be even higher.

  40. 40
    slag says:

    I once bought a one-way intra-national ticket with a credit card and was practically strip-searched at the airport as a result. This Nigerian incident represented a failure of the system.

    And DHS has always been dysfunctional. They may just need a re-org, or they may need to go away altogether. At the very least, a name change should be in order because “Department of Homeland Security” is way too creepy.

  41. 41
    Ash says:

    @Violet:

    Don’t know for sure.

    My guess

    Yeah, that’s why I asked if anyone knew for sure without guessing…

  42. 42
    Ed Drone says:

    Please note that this passenger did all this — pay in cash for a one-way ticket and check no luggage — in a foreign country. No TSA, no FBI, no NSA, no TLA (Three-Letter-Acronym) was involved directly. So the efforts we see within the US may not have been applied in his case.

    They should have, yes. But they weren’t. Why? We hope to hell they find out soon!

    The failure point was at boarding. That he didn’t get put onto the no-fly list, or checked against the 500K names in the these-folks-have-funny-names-or-connections list, despite the warning from his father (and that warning wasn’t very specific, please note) is regrettable, but if the airport authorities don’t check on a guy with all those flags on him, one name on a secondary list won’t help at all (remember, this was not the dreaded no-fly list).

    Ed

    BTW, my last paragraph includes nearly the most convoluted sentence I’ve written in some time, but I don’t feel like changing it.

  43. 43
    Joey Maloney says:

    The initial screening for outbound passengers in Israel is done by uniformed military – that is, a 19-year-old (who looks like a middle-schooler to me, anyway) carring an Uzi. They engage you in conversation for about five minutes. If they decide not to put any extra holes in you, then you and your luggage can proceed to the next steps.

  44. 44
    danimal says:

    Not sure if the TSA is at fault or not in this case. But isn’t DHS the bastard child of Joe Lieberman and George W. Bush? Knowing that, don’t your questions answer themselves?

  45. 45
    Steeplejack says:

    @spudvol:

    Win.

  46. 46
    valdivia says:

    @gopher2:

    Drudge can say whatever he wants but that doesn’t mean it’s true. NWA are going to be in the shit if they let him fly without a passport. I fly from abroad all the time and the airlines always ask for my passport and check for the US visa. Again, Nigeria seems to me to be the problem, specifically nigeria employees for NWA/Delta.

    edit–I should note, used to ask for a US visa or green card when I did not have my american passport yet.

  47. 47
    Skepticat says:

    @Violet: You do realize that all of this ticket-buying, nonbag-checking, and lack of pat-down was done in Nigeria (I believe) rather than the United States, do you not? I assume that all these DHS/TSA people were about where they were supposed to be, in the US.

    That said, in the late 90s I took a friend to the airport so that she could fly to meet her boyfriend down south and drive back with him. As it was a last-minute decision, she bought a one-way ticket with cash. And she was a first-time flyer and very nervous. I went with her to the counter when she checked her bag, and from their expressions I began to realize that little bells were going off in peoples’ heads. Not only did they take her away, empty and dust her bag, make her remove a lot of clothing, pat her down very thoroughly, and question her at length, but they grabbed me, too. She thought that it was random and routine, though as a veteran passenger, I knew that it wasn’t. All ended well, giving us a good story to tell, but I’m glad that I almost never fly commercial any longer.

  48. 48
    Violet says:

    @freelancer:
    They aren’t in the Netherlands. But if they are responsible for the safety of transportation, then it seems they should be involved, at least, in helping identify opportunities for international coordination – but obviously not going so far as implementing any of it.

    And since the TSA is under the DHS, so it’s probably the larger agency failure, rather than merely the TSA failure.

    I get that the TSA screeners here had nothing to do with this guy getting on the plan in Amsterdam. But someone behind the scenes who should have been able to connect dots, didn’t. The info should be available at this point and either it isn’t, or it was ignored. Either way – fail.

  49. 49
    Steeplejack says:

    @Maude:

    He should have worn pants that said, “I’m carrying a bomb” “I’ve got a rocket in my pocket.”

    Fix’d.

  50. 50
    valdivia says:

    @Violet:

    they can be involved as they want but the airline and home country will determine how much they follow what TSA tells them to do. Again, not all countries have the capability or desire to do all these things.

  51. 51
    Violet says:

    @Skepticat:
    It’s the behind the scenes stuff that should be going on, or should have been going on, that wasn’t – that is the source of the fail. Of course the guys in the red vests who look at our drivers licenses under the special lighted magnifying glass and who put grey bins on the conveyor belt couldn’t be in Amsterdam. That’s not the point. The point is that they have higher-ups who should be doing more of the broader work that flags people who buy tickets like this guy did. And they didn’t. Or it didn’t work. Either way, fail.

  52. 52
    Capn America says:

    @Guster How do the Israelis deal with airplane safety? Is their method so burdensome that we couldn’t replicate it?

    Something tells me hardcore racial profiling won’t take off in our society. Not that the random searches don’t already mostly target Middle Eastern men, it’s just we don’t want to see whites-only flights.

  53. 53
    KCinDC says:

    Jake Tapper should get some recognition for his headline and reporting about what the rest of the media is madly spinning into a “gaffe” by Napolitano that she’s “walking back” (via Spencer Ackerman).

  54. 54
    Corpsicle says:

    @valdivia: You can get away with flying without a passport. A friend of mine who is British, living in America with a green card, forgot to renew his passport. His father had a medical problem, so he had to fly from JFK to Heathrow in a hurry. Made it there and back just with his green card.

  55. 55
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Why are you worried about this, John? According to an earlier post on this blog, Andrew Sullivan’s ex, Nate Silver, claims that you’re about as likely to be hit by lightening as by a terrorist bomb, or some such nonsense.

    Wow. You have been a regular Johnny Appleseed of terrible today.

  56. 56

    Not to quibble but according to this Reuters story, he apparently had a return ticket to Lagos via Amsterdam booked for Jan. 8 2010.

    I’m more curious why he was allowed to sail through security despite being on the terror watch list and being denied an entry visa into the UK in May. Don’t our governments talk to each other??

  57. 57
    Comrade Jake says:

    Let’s be perfectly clear: I’m sure a better job by DHS and all the related agencies could have been done here.

    But let’s also get something else straight: the freakout over what was done or not done seems entirely disproportionate to what actually happened. At the end of the day, if TSA is unable to catch the one in a million guy who’s laced his undies with highly flammable material and is mostly going to succeed in burning his nuts off, that’s OK with me.

    I think some of you may be vastly underestimating the sheer amount of disparate information intelligence agencies have to process and coordinate.

  58. 58
    kay says:

    @fraught:

    I don’t think he’s in such bad shape. He’s apparently talking to the FBI.

    “Investigators say the suspect, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian student whose birthday was last Tuesday, has provided detailed information about his recruitment and training for what was supposed to be a Christmas Day suicide attack.”

  59. 59
    elliottg says:

    stupid people. tens of millions of passengers since the shoe bomber (who failed) and all we have is one nutless wonder who FAILED. Even if he would have brought down the entire F***ing plane, how much is that in dollars per life? The reality is that we should be using this moment as a time to reflect on whether we should reduce some of the meaningless kabuki that is airport security because it has demonstrably WORKED and is also UNNEEDED. Instead we have a**holes arguing for more insanity, more time wasting, and more useless spending.

    Meanwhile, we have people arguing over whether to fund needle exchanges. Humans are stupid when it comes to collectively evaluating cost/benefit of spending time or money on a problem.

  60. 60
    slag says:

    @John Cole:

    I’m not at all concerned about my safety when travelling.

    You should definitely be concerned about your safety when traveling by car. Statistically speaking.

  61. 61
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @Makewi:

    Is this an example of Obama’s excellent diplomacy skills, getting the Dutch to do such a half ass job at vetting passengers?

    Okay, that was … random…

  62. 62
    Maude says:

    @Steeplejack: Win
    I’m tired and couldn’t do better. Thanks. Think we could make $ by selling cheap pants with that on them?

  63. 63

    How does the DHS justify its existence?

    9/11, bitchez. And another layer of bureaucracy in the Village.

  64. 64
    valdivia says:

    @KCinDC:

    thanks so much for that. ambinder and politico where the ones that got the ball rolling.

  65. 65
    Joey Maloney says:

    I’m going to go back to something Bruce Schneier said some time ago – if you are relying on a pat down and a metal detector to keep bombs off planes, you’ve already failed. For real security you have to have good HUMINT and SIGINT that keeps the guy from ever getting as far as the departure gate.

    If we are not, we should be collecting info from around the world on every ticket purchased with a US ultimate destination. We should be looking for red flags like one-way or cash purchases, documentation issues or extensive travel in known hot spots. We should be comparing names against a pared-down watch list that doesn’t contain fucking Edward Kennedy. We should have well-paid, highly-trained invisible security patrolling airport terminals looking for people who fit the behavioral profile. People who trip any of these triggers should be taken aside – COURTEOUSLY – and have their person and their baggage thoroughly searched.

    And even if we do everything right, we have to understand, like grownups, that the odds are still against us. We have to succeed every single time. The other guys only have to succeed once, and no amount of shoe-sniffing and shampoo-stealing can change that basic calculus.

  66. 66
    Steeplejack says:

    @Maude:

    I was going to add to my post above that you probably already can buy them. A T-shirt, anyway.

  67. 67
    valdivia says:

    @Comrade Jake:

    this exactly.

  68. 68
    gypsy howell says:

    Oh, but thank god the TSA in its infinite wisdom is going to crack down on lax Nigerian airline procedures by creating even more chaos in US airports with the immediate implementation of more useless inane and ultimately futile security theatre crapola.

    And as far as “where does all the money go”- I don’t know the specific answer, but you can bet that there are a few people getting obscenely rich from it, people who, btw, long ago traded flying commercial for private jets.

  69. 69
    valdivia says:

    @Corpsicle:

    right but he had his green card. a non american with only a visa which is in his passport, cannot fly.

  70. 70
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    Why should KLM red-flag his ticket when he flew on Delta/Northwest?

    KLM and Delta/Northwest are partners. KLM flies into the Netherlands; Delta/Northwest flies out of the Netherlands to the US. If the guy bought his ticket in Nigeria (a detail I’d forgotten), he bought his ticket from KLM. If he had bought a roundtrip ticket from the Netherlands, he would have flown Delta/Northwest to Detroit and KLM back to Amsterdam.

  71. 71
    Makewi says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    This is just another example of smart diplomacy, in which you get countries to do what you ask them to do by electing the right sort of people. I’m sure you’ve heard something about it from Obama when he was campaigning for office. In this case, it was getting the Dutch to not put people aboard US bound flights with explosives in their pants.

    Heckuva job Obama!

  72. 72
    freelancer says:

    Semi-OT: Ackerman with the headshot:

    Umar Farouk “When There’s Nothing Left To Burn, You Must Set Your Crotch On Fire” Abdulmutallab is currently detained in a federal prison in Michigan. For now! In a few days he’ll use his Muslim heat vision to escape and run amok in Ann Arbor, shortly after America is brought to its knees by the force of his oratory in open federal court.

  73. 73
    Violet says:

    @Joey Maloney:
    Yes, exactly. And we aren’t. And the fact that DHS or TSA or the CIA or whatever government agency didn’t at least flag this guy shows some kind of failure.

    Failure is an opportunity to learn and improve, though, so I hope they do that. I’m not holding my breath. I figure they’ll just add more idiotic restrictions that annoy travelers and don’t do much else.

    I don’t have much faith in the metal detectors, either, having inadvertently put my house key ring, with about six keys on it, in the pocket of my jeans and walked through the metal detector without setting it off. Didn’t discover it until I was at the gate.

  74. 74
    Maude says:

    @Steeplejack: I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go to the airport wearing them. There are very serious people in security that would toss me in the tank. They have no sense of humor.

  75. 75
    donovong says:

    FSM forbid we should all take a deep breath and allow the authorities to find out what actually fucking happened, before we all lose it and take DRUDGE’S word for anything at all.

    Of course, that would make sense, which is not allowed in a situation like this.

    Sorry, but this silliness is more appropriate for Sully than here.

  76. 76
    kay says:

    @freelancer:

    “DETROIT (Reuters) – The first federal court hearing for the Nigerian man charged with attempting to blow up a Delta Airlines plane flying to Detroit has been canceled, a spokeswoman for prosecutors said on Monday.

    U.S. Attorneys had been expected to seek a search warrant to collect a swab of DNA from Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is being held in a federal prison in Michigan.

    No reason given for the cancellation of the hearing before U.S. District Judge Paul Borman.

    Bail for Abdulmutallab is scheduled to be set at a January 8 hearing in Detroit.”

    I don’t know what it means. I guess they got the DNA though.

  77. 77
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Ruemara

    … exploding nigerian balls…

    Oooooooooo… found the name for my next rock band…

  78. 78
    Ravi J says:

    I have no clue why an intelligent terrorist would buy a one-way ticket, that too pay cash. Is he worried that his credit history would take a beating if he failed to pay? This terrist guy ought to be one of those 5-6 people from Florida who planned to blow up some tower in Chicago with firecrackers. Or the terrist guy in London who blew up a bomb in front of airport inside a Mercedes. Why would someone blow a bomb up in a steel cage that is Mercedes? Couldn’t they find a cheaper cooper mini or something?

    And, if you really want to punish these guys, make them sit and watch wall to wall coverage on CNN, preferably Wolf Blitzer’s on air orgasms.

  79. 79
    Steeplejack says:

    @Makewi:

    I want to thank you. With this and your comment about rape in the other thread, you have motivated me to finally get off my ass and install Cleek’s pie filter.

    Hope you like pie.

  80. 80
    MattR says:

    @Mnemosyne: According to the Reuters article linked to by Southern Beale above:

    Demuren said Abdulmutallab had purchased his $2,831 Lagos-Amsterdam Detroit return ticket at the KLM office in Accra, Ghana, on December 16 with a January 8, 2010 return date.

  81. 81
    Homeland Insecurity says:

    Something tells me the DHS gets some kick ass presents from Halliburton and Blackwater around this time of year.

  82. 82
    Mayken says:

    The thing that gets me more about the incident is the fact that this guy brought on board the exact same explosives Richard Reid did 8 YEARS ago! Why, pray tell, do we not have a way to detect this after nearly a decade? He went through Schipol, which as others have pointed out actually has really good security measures yet nothing detected this. Why? All the shoe-removing in the universe will do no good if the machines cannot detect an explosive when it is right in front of them.

  83. 83
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    So it’s a codeshare flight? Even so, it doesn’t seem that hard to require all US carrier codeshare partners to relay info on how tickets are purchased. The government collects a lot more invasive info than that on a pretty regular basis.

    Who knows how he bought his ticket – I’m only going off what I’ve heard so far, which is one-way/cash/no baggage. If he bought a round trip ticket with a credit card and checked a bag – or whatever – then obviously he’s a little harder to flag. And if that’s the case, then it’s less a case of agency fail than if he was clearly waving red flags all over the place and they ignored him.

    My real annoyance with this whole situation, is that as a regular traveler I know what a freaking hassle it is to do the security theater dance. And I also know there’s no real reason for most of it. And yet, what they could and should do that could help (behind the scenes coordination stuff), they don’t seem to be doing. And so now passengers will have to stand on their heads while weeing in cups or some other idiotic “security requirement” that will do nothing to make us any safer and will do a lot to increase hassle and annoyance.

  84. 84
    bcinaz says:

    Given that Nigeria is one the those really, really corrupt countries, I can imagine any number of scenarios where a fanatic can buy a one way ticket for cash – maybe has a friend at the ticket counter of a friend in Security (like there’s nobody taking a bribe) and for many of the poor and underpaid, there is no love for the United States or our Resource Stripping Petroleum Industry. And wonder of Wonders, Obama didn’t personally interview this guy when he was checking in for his flight – so it must be his fault.

  85. 85
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    Makewi

    Heckuva job Obama!

    I know you’re a troll… and this is just ‘What You Do™“… but out of curiosity… what sense does this make?

    ‘Heck of a job, Brownie’ was indeed and embarrassing moment for Bush…. especially seeing as the idiot said it himself… AFTER ‘Brownie’ turned out to be completely unprepared for a disaster that everyone KNEW was coming… and indeed HAPPENING… over an extended period of time…

    Soooooooo… given all of that… what sense does the comment make?

    I know… I know… It’s Not Fair™, asking you to be coherent ‘n all…

    (Geez… the Bush Years were hard on some peoples’ psyches… talk about Battered Republican Syndrome…)

  86. 86
    Martin says:

    Inside of the US, one-way cash tickets get flagged upside and down. Coming from outside, it’s going to be a mixed bag. But as noted way up above, there are lots of places where cash is much more common than in the US, and some places where it’s virtually mandatory.

    But if you read Nate’s analysis, there are about 100M passenger departures each year either into or out of or within the U.S. That’s 275,000 per day. We’re demanding the equivalent of an physical and behavioral inspection of every single person in the city of Newark, NJ every single day – and it needs to be done within the 30 minute window that the passenger and airline dictate.

    I’m going to say that it’s impossible to do for the amount that we are paying to do it. Personally, I’d argue for a re-regulation of the airline industry – hike up ticket prices so that money can be invested in real security, rearranging how airports work, increasing maintenance, increasing pilot salaries in the places where it’s needed, and take advantage of the drop in flyers due to the price hikes.

    What we have now is crazy. It’s not a complete failure, but the whole arrangement is unsustainable and they’re getting nowhere at making it sustainable because they’re putting money into TSA workers patching the holes in the shitty system rather than simply making the system non-shitty.

  87. 87

    Two things come to mind.

    One is, how does TSA or any organization maintain the kind of worldwide performance levels that would be necessary in order to provide real safety in this context, without costing ten times more than it does and becoming a giant worldwide police agency of grotesque proportions?

    And two, given the millions of airplane boardings that go on in the world (15-20 million a week, or in that ballpark, if I read AViation Week correctly) ….. let’s say, well into the hundreds of millions a year …does anyone really think that the occasional crazy crotch bomber can’t get through the process unless we literally strip search every single passenger on every single plane in the world?

    I mean, WTF? People, DHS is the outfit that still maintains a Color Coded Threat Level and has had it at Yellow almost every day since 911. Do we really think that this is the key to safety in a world where terrorism is a popular sport?

  88. 88
    Makewi says:

    @Steeplejack:

    No thank you for standing up and announcing that you are too stupid to understand the point of either comment.

  89. 89
    kay says:

    @Makewi:

    Well, he’s talking to them, Makewi. Giving “detailed information.” So maybe some good will come out of this scary situation.

    Talking. Apparently without being waterboarded. Or having his head bashed against a wall while handcuffed.

  90. 90
    Mnemosyne says:

    @bcinaz:

    Given that Nigeria is one the those really, really corrupt countries, I can imagine any number of scenarios where a fanatic can buy a one way ticket for cash …

    Since the guy is the son of the country’s finance minister, he probably didn’t even need to bribe anyone. A few “do you know who I am?” pronouncements probably did the trick.

  91. 91
    Makewi says:

    @The Republic of Stupidity:

    I think it’s funny that you don’t consider this an embarrassing moment for Obama. Or that you don’t seem to remember Obama claiming that his super diplomacy skills would prevent this sort of thing.

    But don’t worry, Janet says the system worked before it didn’t.

  92. 92
    Michael D. says:

    In the US, if you pay for a ticket in cash, especially one-way, you are supposed to go through special screening. I’ve done this several times – not because I enjoy paying in cash – but because when you go through special screening, it usually puts you at the front of the line and you get through twice as fast, or faster, than if you didn’t.

  93. 93
    moe99 says:

    Maybe I have not flown internationally enough recently (Paris in 2005, Australia in 2006), but I do not recall seeing TSA agents either at Charles deGaulle international airport or at the Melbourne airport when I got on to return home. This flight originated in Nigeria, where presumably the bad actor got on. So doesn’t the responsibility fall on the shoulders of the Nigerians? Or perhaps in Amsterdam where passengers could have been required to deplane and rescreen as a condition of getting back on to fly to the US?

  94. 94
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Violet:

    Who knows how he bought his ticket – I’m only going off what I’ve heard so far, which is one-way/cash/no baggage. If he bought a round trip ticket with a credit card and checked a bag – or whatever – then obviously he’s a little harder to flag. And if that’s the case, then it’s less a case of agency fail than if he was clearly waving red flags all over the place and they ignored him.

    The more that comes out, the less it sounds like agency fail, except for the screening in Amsterdam that missed that he was carrying an explosive.

    Now that we know that, we can move on to pointing out how stupid it is for DHS to overreact to some idiot blowing his own balls off by deciding no one can have an iPod on board. That has the distinct sound of something that’s been on the DHS wish list for a while that the airlines wouldn’t go along with and the DHS is now using this incident to pressure them into it.

  95. 95

    But hey, they’ve got flashy new blue shirt uniforms! That was a waste of money. Oops:

    The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee asked the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to look into reports that new uniforms issued to Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) are linked to a spate of health issues, including skin rashes and nausea.

    ETA:

    The new uniforms, along with badges, are a TSA attempt to boost employee morale amid one of the highest turnover rates in government

    Rather than pay them more or something.

  96. 96
    Laura W says:

    @Steeplejack:

    their was 10.7 cases of forcible rape

    Conclusive proof DougJ is not doing him/her.

  97. 97
    MattR says:

    @Makewi: Actually, Janet says that the system worked AFTER it didn’t. But why let a minor distinction like that get in your way.

  98. 98
    Mayken says:

    @srv: Um… CDC, FDA, FAA. No they are none of them perfect but I think it is pretty arguable that they have, among them, saved a lot of American lives. Also, the military, under the DoD, in the form of the Coast Guard, the National Guard and the Reserves, who respond to disaster situations.
    Just saying…
    Really, government is not the problem. Bad government is the problem.

  99. 99

    Nobody would have expected that someone would strap explosives to their body and then go somewhere and blow themselves up…oh, wait…

  100. 100
    Makewi says:

    @kay:

    I’m sure in this case withholding his pain medication is working wonders. I just hope he has adequate counsel present.

  101. 101
    Steeplejack says:

    @Makewi:

    Why, yes, I do like pie. Thank you for asking.

  102. 102
    Mark says:

    I flew to San Francisco from El Salvador in February. Parts of El Salvador International Airport were without power, including check-in, security, and the arms that go up to let you into the parking lot.

    The airlines couldn’t access itineraries and I had a standby ticket anyways, so they just gave me a hand-written ticket and let me on the flight. The security guy couldn’t see my face in the dark, so he just made a cursory check of my passport. I did go through a metal detector and my carry-on went through an x-ray machine. Then somebody at the gate rummaged through my bag for 15 seconds and decided I had no contraband. The system doesn’t work much differently when they have power.

    Third-world security (or lack thereof) relative to the US wasn’t the issue here, though I’m pretty sure the five minutes of grilling I was subjected to checking in at El Al would have sussed this guy out.

  103. 103
    Makewi says:

    @MattR:

    ORLY?

    “Right now that is part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing and I think it would be inappropriate to speculate as to whether or not he had such ties. What we’re focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. One thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here.”

    Janet Napolitano 12/27/09

    “No Secretary of Homeland Security would sit here and say that a system worked prior to this incident which allowed this individual to get on this plane… We need to say, look, this individual was allowed to get on this plane with that material. That should not have happened”

    Janet Napolitano 12/28/2009

  104. 104
    Steeplejack says:

    @Laura W:

    Heh. You’re agitating again. Bad girl.

  105. 105
    Makewi says:

    @Laura W:

    The grammer? Or is it that you too would like to stand up and explain that you don’t understand the point of that comment?

  106. 106
    Violet says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    The more that comes out, the less it sounds like agency fail, except for the screening in Amsterdam that missed that he was carrying an explosive.

    Yes it does. Although the dad reporting him to the embassy, combined with his time in Yemen (if true) and the buying the ticket in cash (again if true) might also be a combination that should trigger extra screening.

    It’s really annoying that however many years after Richard Reid carried the same explosive on board, we don’t have better ways to detect someone carrying explosives. More agency fail or too expensive? I don’t know enough about it.

    Now that we know that, we can move on to pointing out how stupid it is for DHS to overreact to some idiot blowing his own balls off by deciding no one can have an iPod on board. That has the distinct sound of something that’s been on the DHS wish list for a while that the airlines wouldn’t go along with and the DHS is now using this incident to pressure them into it.

    No argument there. The security requirements are ridiculous as it is. And don’t work – see my mention of walking through the metal detector with my keys in my pocket and nothing happened. So now they’re going to prohibit items like iPods and laptops – that had nothing to do with this whole incident. Typical.

    Like I said, they’ll probably start forcing people to wee in cups while standing on their heads. Fail to do that – don’t get on the plane.

  107. 107

    @Mayken:

    Coast Guard

    They’re under DHS, not the DoD

  108. 108
    MattR says:

    @Makewi: Link? Context? What system is she talking about?

  109. 109
    Steeplejack says:

    @Laura W:

    The grammer?

    Oh, jeez, it just gets better. Have to admit I dropped the pie-filter cloaking device for a moment to catch that one.

    I’m dyin’ here.

  110. 110
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Steeplejack:

    Or a ringtone on his cell: Barnes & Barnes’

    There’s a party in my pants and I want you all to come

    Voobanhana vop bop

    (can’t believe I just remembered that song)

  111. 111

    @Makewi:

    Napolitano is going to say, in public, what they tell her to say.

    She cannot tell the truth, which is that perfect security in the air travel industry is not even remotely in the realm of possibility.

    The actual number of nines in this model (99.999……..) is probably a secret, but whatever it is, it is going to allow some crotchbombers to get through.

    The problem is that she can’t go on tv and say, well, our system is going to allow 3.7 crotchbombers per year onto planes flying to and from the US on a yearly basis, on average, so we are doing better than average right now. Even though such a statement would be the absolute and unchangeable truth, she is not allowed to say it.

    So what’s the point of quibbling over what she said? With all due respect to Jack Nicholson, you can’t handle the truth.

  112. 112
    Laura W says:

    @Makewi: The grammer.

  113. 113
    valdivia says:

    Now sulli is jumping on the Napolitano has to resign bandwagon. He is so clueless sometimes.

  114. 114
    freelancer says:

    John Rogers rolled out a classic today.

    But God gave me a brain, and a modicum of spine. Taking something seriously, and panicking over it are two different things. I do not assign all dangers and risks equal value. Tight little freelance squads with leak-proof operational discipline, like the 7/7 guys, — those I worry about. A nuke coming in through one of ridiculously open ports — I am concerned. Not bio-terror so much, because it’s a shitty delivery mechanism. That the Muslim population of England seems to be becoming radicalized enough to sprout up these plots, that’s not a good thing to consider. al-Queda involvement — good if true because this means their recruiting is shitty: bad if true because this means they’re back in business: bad if false because it means al-Queda has indeed become a “brand”: but good if false because it reinforces the idea that they’re operationally crippled (and if Zwahari is involved, I personally would like a word with whatever idiot nation took their eyes of the ball and let him escape …)

    … You get the point. There are a million factors in this New World of Terror. You weigh ’em, you process, and then you move on.

    You move on, building a better international society so that luddite fundamentalist criminal gangs/cults of personality are further and further marginalized.

    Or, if you don’t understand 4th Generation Warfare at all, you move on, bombing the shit out of nation-states and handing your opponents massive PR victories. Either way, you move the fuck on.

    Maybe it’s just, I cast my eyes back on the last century …

    FDR: Oh, I’m sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we’re coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How’s that going to feel?

    CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We’ll be in the pub, flipping you off. I’m slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I’m sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

    US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike … NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

    … and I’m just a little tired of being on the wrong side of that historical arc.

  115. 115
    Steeplejack says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    There’s a whole mini-industry waiting to take off.

  116. 116
    cervantes says:

    Couldn’t check the whole thread to see if this has already been pointed out, buy John’s post is factually incorrect. According to the NYT, he bought a round trip ticket. Just for the sake of accuracy and integrity.

  117. 117
    Violet says:

    @valdivia:
    Saw that. So stupid. She didn’t handle things very elegantly on Sunday and definitely should be making more noise about investigating things more thoroughly, increasing international cooperation, etc. But resign? Give me a break.

  118. 118
    Remember November says:

    The first clue of DHS fail- Bush wanted Kerik to head it.

    also:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....00582.html

    how many reports do you think they get of people “radicalizing”, each day that turn out to be bs?

  119. 119
    freelancer says:

    @Makewi:

    You’ve been grammed by the grammer. He grams you.

  120. 120
    MattR says:

    @valdivia: Can I say that Napolitano should resign because the stupidity of the new regulations shows her cluelessness? (not that I am actually suggesting this now since it would obviously be misinterpreted as being fired because of the actual incident)

  121. 121
    gopher2 says:

    Why do these guys keep trying to light the bombs in their seats. Why not use the bathroom?

  122. 122
    Tomlinson says:

    It’s not clear to me how it is ever going to work, unless we take over security and boarding for all international flights. IMO, the failure here was at boarding time, and the fact that it was tried from an international airport implies that maybe we’ve done a good job locking down what we have under our control.

    That said, I have no confidence that this is ever going to work. So far, terrorists seem to have focused on airplanes, which is flashy and all, but monumentally stupid. The problem with modern society is that there are *so many* potential vectors of attack, that you simply cannot stop them all. What if they shift from flashy (airplanes exploding) to annoying (knocking out electricity for major metros, derailing trains, knocking out natural gas lines, etc.) How are you going to guard against any of that? You cannot.

    You got an enemy who can strike you in a myriad of places, and your only real defense is to know about it in advance. False alarms are so trivial to generate that it’s nuts to think that we’ll catch them, and false alerts are about as bad as the actual event.

    Ugly.

  123. 123
    Mayken says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: Ah, yes, sorry. Thanks for the correction!

  124. 124
    Makewi says:

    @Laura W:

    Then your criticism is taken kindly.

    @DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio:

    Oh, I think it’s appropriate to point out when a cabinet level official changes her statement within a 24 hour period absent any new facts. Do you suppose she got a phone call from the boss asking her just why she thinks the system worked?

  125. 125
    Brachiator says:

    @gopher2:

    Everytime I’ve ever had a one way ticket (always purchased by a major corporation’s travel department with a credit card) I’ve been subject to secondary searches.

    You’re buying a ticket in the US, where credit cards are king. Paying cash in Africa or Europe, not necessarily perceived the same way.

    Shouldn’t the one way ticket purchased in cash be a warning sign alone? Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash? Who does that besides drug runners and terrorists? What have we spent all this money on? How does the DHS justify its existence?

    Ultimately, it comes down to human beings having to decipher a possible false alarm from a real threat. And even the best security personnel get worn down.

    A trivial, but perhaps useful analogy. I worked for a company that used to do periodic fire and earthquake drills. People were ornery, refused to follow the directions of the monitors, and would gripe as they stood outside waiting to go back into work. And yet these same people would have demanded that the monitors and the fire department done their jobs to perfection in an actual emergency.

    So, it’s like: Never inconvenience me and, by the way, be perfect.

  126. 126
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    If Al Qaeda wanted to attack us, we’d have been attacked already. There are so many easier ways than trying to smuggle something onto an airplane. Someone with the proper (easily obtained) equipment could wreak havoc from the end of airport runways.

    My guess is that they’re taking the “don’t commit murder on someone who is committing suicide” approach; we’re doing the heavy lifting for them. Judged by the classic definition of terrorism, 9/11 was spectacularly successful: the USA was, and remains, terrorized.

  127. 127
    valdivia says:

    @Violet:

    he has been comparing her to Brownie. He started with that post and then just went deeper after that. Now he is in a snit because the first post was based on faulty reporting by Ambinder and Politico which he relied on. Ackerman made fun of him too so he is doubling down.

  128. 128
    fraught says:

    I don’t know. Having a staff of subcontracted Blackwater guys n’ gals sitting around in every airport in the world feeling up everyone with a ticket to America might cost a lot more money than it’s worth just to not have to hear Drudge or Jonah flip out over their own safety. How about if everyone stops flying so fucking much and then we can bring every foreign flight into the former prison in Guantanamo where we can feel them up proper. Some folks might do that job for free. Hell, some might pay to do it if they didn’t have to wear gloves.

  129. 129
    Punchy says:

    Wasn’t this guy flying in from Yourup? So why are you pissed at DHS? WTF kinda regs can they enforce in the Netherlands?

  130. 130
    Tomlinson says:

    So, it’s like: Never inconvenience me and, by the way, be perfect.

    Yep, and you need to add that the bad guys *know* this and can use it to throw up a smokescreen using the alert aparatus against itself.

  131. 131
    Violet says:

    @Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon):

    Judged by the classic definition of terrorism, 9/11 was spectacularly successful: the USA was, and remains, terrorized.

    No kidding. We act like a bunch of timid babies. Where’s the “nothing to fear but fear itself” attitude of the past? When did we get so fearful?

  132. 132
    MattR says:

    @valdivia:

    Ackerman made fun of him too so he is doubling down.

    This sums up my major problem with Sully. Like most in the media (and unliike our host), he is incapable of admitting he made a mistake.

  133. 133
    valdivia says:

    @MattR:

    yep only when its blatant, like the fake JFK photo this morning, he takes the post down. But he will never say–sorry I used the wrong source, I made a mistake. I emailed him the Ackerman post and 5 minutes later he posted that ridiculous thing about resigning. He gets in a snit sometimes, its funny.

  134. 134

    Somehow, this is relevant (via GOS):

    Republicans have cast votes against the key TSA funding measure that the 2010 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security contained, which included funding for the TSA, including for explosives detection systems and other aviation security measures. In the June 24 vote in the House, leading Republicans including John Boehner, Pete Hoekstra, Mike Pence and Paul Ryan voted against the bill, amid a procedural dispute over the appropriations process, a Democrat points out. A full 108 Republicans voted against the conference version, including Boehner, Hoekstra, Pence, Michelle Bachmann, Marsha Blackburn, Darrell Issa and Joe Wilson.
    __
    The conference bill included more than $4 billion for “screening operations,” including $1.1 billion in funding for explosives detection systems, with $778 million for buying and installing the systems.

  135. 135
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Makewi:

    Actually, Makewank, here are the statements she made in their full context:

    Once this incident occurred, everything went according to clockwork, not only sharing throughout the air industry, but also sharing with state and local law enforcement. Products were going out on Christmas Day, they went out yesterday, and also to the [airline] industry to make sure that the traveling public remains safe. I would leave you with that message. The traveling public is safe. We have instituted some additional screening and security measures, in light of this incident, but, again, everyone reacted as they should. The system, once the incident occurred, the system worked.

    And this is a link to Jake Tapper’s initial report, with a video of her appearance on This Week.

    But, I’m sorry, you were saying, Makewank?

  136. 136
    El Cid says:

    If terrorists were falling all over themselves to attack the U.S. domestically, there are a nearly infinite number of targets to go after, and nearly no security. Snipers, small to medium bombs in banks or government offices or shopping malls or hospitals, you name it. Instead, we get occasional fruitcakes in planes trying to relive Bin Laden’s Greatest Hits of 2001.

  137. 137
    cervantes says:

    Let me try again — He BOUGHT A ROUND TRIP TICKET . John’s post is erroneous.

  138. 138

    I also don’t understand why our TSA enacts stupid, passenger-inconveniencing rules like “no personal items in your lap for the final hour” when they could be doing actual, concrete things away from view to beef up security. Sort of reinforces my view that it’s all so much security theater.

  139. 139

    ah, Sully. More reasons not to read you despite your Iranian coverage. Methinks you’re a little too hyped up right now to make rational judgments.

  140. 140

    Let me try again—He BOUGHT A ROUND TRIP TICKET . John’s post is erroneous.

    Thanks Cervantes. I posed a link to the Reuters story saying as much, but I don’t think anyone saw it.

    Also there is a rumor on the internet that he didn’t have a passport which I haven’t seen verified anywhere and which I will call BS until I am informed otherwise.

  141. 141
    The Other Steve says:

    Shouldn’t the one way ticket purchased in cash be a warning sign alone? Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash? Who does that besides drug runners and terrorists?

    People in Nigeria where checkbooks and credit cards are not common?

  142. 142
    eponymous says:

    Having read the Reuters article, it appears that the guy did buy a return ticket. So he wouldn’t have been flagged for buying a one-way ticket with cash.

    The breakdown, then, was in discovering the explosives sewn into his underwear. Which can (likely) be overlooked unless he went through a Z-backscatter X-Ray screener. Which is probable in that the device is not widely deployed throughut the world.

    And how often, really, do security people at airports pat down a man’s (or woman’s) genitals as part of their inspection routine? Obviously, they would (we hope) do so if they suspect that the man had something on him.

    What this event tells me is that Al Qaeda (and other terrorist organizations) have been studying where the weak links are. In this case, the weak links are 1) the use of scanning devices that can’t easily detect certain materials; 2) personal inpection that doesn’t routinely pat down genital areas. My guess is that this was the case at Lagos – once he got past these then he wouldn’t have to face the same again at Schipol (although I am less sure about this).

  143. 143
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Southern Beale: Hey Beale, nice to see you over here.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the stay-seated-with-nothing-in-lap is not a done deal…. yet. But yeah…. if history is an indicator, we’ll soon be flying in hospital gowns, chained by the ankle to the seat.

    I travel regionally for my job, and my policy is: if it’s an 8-hour drive or less, fuck flying.

  144. 144
    Makewi says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Only, that’s not where I get my quote from.

    Be honest with yourself at least, you believe what you want to believe because it helps you to do so and as such you will seek out that which you already agree with. If you were able to get past your own ego protection mechanisms there might be hope for you.

  145. 145
    Alan in SF says:

    Has anyone ever added up the gazillions of dollars not just spent on “anti-terror” measures, but the lost time of the billions of people who’ve gone through them? There’s such a thing as “opportunity costs” — all this lost value could have been going to deploy more effective screening technology more widely, for example. But that wouldn’t have kept us appropriately terrorized.

    Ralph Nader, long before 9/11, called for locking airliner cabin doors, which would have prevented 9/11, Both Clinton and Bush adminsitrations rejected this as too much of a burden on airlines — locks are expensive! Increasing the defense budget by several hundred billion dollars, and invading/occupying/bombing several countries, is a much more reasonable response, and one that both parties agree on.

  146. 146
    Kineslaw says:

    In terms of checking passengers against lists, supposedly the list upon which Abdulmutallab was placed has over 500,000 names. Assuming a world population of 6 billion, that means one out of every 12,000 people in the world is on that list, which makes the list useless.

    Possibly this guy’s visa should have been revoked when his father notified the U.S., but much more than that would rightly have people yelling police state and complaining that we are losing our competitive advantage because of our security procedures.

    The correct response is for our government officials to acknowledge that the cost-benefit analysis does not support using some security measures and that terrorists will occasionally make it on to planes. Of those that make it onto planes, some of them will cause injuries and a few of them will cause deaths. However, even with one successful terrorist attack a year, flying is still significantly safer than driving or taking the train and we should all be grown-ups about the problem.

  147. 147

    @Makewi:

    And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.
    __
    Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.

    A distinction without a difference.

  148. 148
    Violet says:

    @eponymous:

    And how often, really, do security people at airports pat down a man’s (or woman’s) genitals as part of their inspection routine?

    Don’t know how often it happens, but I was recently selected for random additional screening after going down the jetway, but before boarding the plane. The pat down was the most invasive thing of it’s type that I have ever experienced. I had to strip down to the thin undershirt I was wearing under what was my “real” shirt. Shoes came off. So I was standing in this freezing cold jetway side area being frisked by security in full view of all boarding passengers. It was somewhat humiliating.

    Then the woman security officer felt every inch of me. Including crotch and under my bra, front and back. Unrolled cuffs on my pants. Checked up my legs inside my pants. Checked down my socks. Had to turn all pockets inside out. The lint in my pockets was scrutinized.

    It really was the most invasive type of pat down I’ve ever had. I felt undressed by this woman. I’m quite certain that if I’d been hiding anything in my crotch larger than a tiny scrap of paper, she’d have found it.

    I really would rather have gone into a separate room and stripped down than been treated that way on the cold jetway while being stared at by all boarding passengers.

  149. 149
    R-Jud says:

    @Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon):

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but the stay-seated-with-nothing-in-lap is not a done deal…. yet.

    … and it would only apply to inbound international flights, and only during the last hour of the trip. And only until 30 December, if this leaked document making the rounds is at all based in reality.

  150. 150
    Face says:

    And how often, really, do security people at airports pat down a man’s (or woman’s) genitals as part of their inspection routine? Obviously, they would (we hope) do so if they suspect that the man had something on him.

    THIS. Nobody would dare pat down one’s nads or hoo-hah. Therein lies the Secret Location that every pothead and concert beer smuggler has known about for years. Just no way around that without myriad lawsuits for groping, molestation, etc.

  151. 151
    Svensker says:

    I have the insane idea that maybe we should stop doing stuff to people in other countries that piss them off enough that they want to come over here and blow our shit up. But I know that’s way too insane. What is sane is to declare war on Yemen, give the Israelis more bombs, and not let anyone get out of their plane seats when they fly. Silly me.

  152. 152
    MattR says:

    @arguingwithsignposts: And you left out her conclusion in that answer.

    So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

  153. 153
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Makewi:

    Only, that’s not where I get my quote from.
    __
    Be honest with yourself at least, you believe what you want to believe because it helps you to do so and as such you will seek out that which you already agree with. If you were able to get past your own ego protection mechanisms there might be hope for you.

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.
    __
    Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.

    A distinction without a difference.

    You forgot the money line, AWS:

    So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

    And you are just adorable, Makewank. “Be honest with yourself at least.” Coming from you, that has to be a candidate for line of the year.

    But I’m sorry. There was a point you were attempting to articulate, Makewank…?

  154. 154
    licensed to kill time says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Be honest with yourself at least, you believe what you want to believe because it helps you to do so and as such you will seek out that which you already agree with. If you were able to get past your own ego protection mechanisms there might be hope for you.

    This is the rational part of Makewank’s mind talking to the irrational part. Jebus, I hope it listens to itself.

  155. 155
    Makewi says:

    @Midnight Marauder:

    No, you are right. The system worked. A man with explosives in his underwear boarded a plane bound for Detroit and during the landing attempted to murder all 289 people on board.

    So what we learned from Janet is that part of the system (the one that worked dontchaknow) involves hoping that the passengers subdue any would be terrorists after they fail to meet their objectives.

    This is a win.

    Good job guys.

  156. 156
    Tomlinson says:

    I have the insane idea that maybe we should stop doing stuff to people in other countries that piss them off enough that they want to come over here and blow our shit up.

    I agree. And there are two paths to this. We can tell countries, look, you harbor terrorists, and one hits us, we will bomb you back to the stone age – except that really will not work, you’ll just create more terrorists.

    Or we can say, look, you send us terrorists, we’re going to subsume your culture. We’re going to raise your standard of living and overwhelm you with McDonalds and MTV and Wal*Mart so that people have no reason to bomb us (at least, no more reason than anyone in the U.S. might have, given a similar threat, but we mostly live with it.)

  157. 157
    Makewi says:

    @Svensker:

    You are an idiot. Just wanted to point that out.

  158. 158
    MikeBoyScout says:

    Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash?

    Yes. In many places in Africa and non G20 countries cash purchase are still the norm.

    Despite being obviously American looking, all one-way tickets in to the USA should require greater scrutiny than round-trip tickets. For example, one-way ticket holders should have their luggage checked by people.

    Furthermore, one-way overseas (i.e. border crossing) ticket holders with no luggage should be subject to significant greater scrutiny and methods.

  159. 159
  160. 160
    reality-based says:

    @Guster:

    as someone who used to fly in and out of Tel Aviv on business a lot –

    well, they’re pretty thorough, and it takes a LONG time –

    first off, airport security is handled by the Israeli government – and every passenger is interviewed by bright, smart, young Israeli military personnel who are highly, highly trained. (NOT outsourced to private companies, note. )

    Not only that, you are interviewed (briefly) TWICE to see if your stories match up.

    I would have to explain that I worked for an Israeli-based Ethernet Switching company, what I was doing on that trip, who I met with, how an Ethernet switch worked – I once found myself drawing a diagram of a data packet going through a switch.

    I always had a letter from my company explaining all this – which the security personnel politely ignored, and grilled me anyway.

    It’s undoubtedly the best system in the world – and I think it would be really, really hard to scale up to, say, O’Hare or JFK scale.

    That said, I guarantee you that their passenger profiling is much more sophisticated than ours, and that it WORKS.

    I am with Cole, I am furious. I know a little about databases. Any passenger buying a one-way international ticket should raise one red flag. Paid cash? Another red flag should go up. Flying out of a lax-security airport in Nigeria? By now, the database should be flashing bright red, and the guy should be strip-searched in Amsterdam.

    There’s just no excuse for this massive fail.. And Napolitano, damn her, should have called it a massive fail .

  161. 161
    Elie says:

    @Svensker:

    Svensker:

    While I hear and agree with a fair amount of what you say, there is an element of the potential terrorists who really would want to do this without us having done much to them at all besides just being and having the kind of culture we have. It is important to acknowledge that piece too, I think

  162. 162
    still liberal says:

    So does this mean I have to take off my shoes AND underpants now at the security checkpoint?

  163. 163
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Makewi:

    No, you are right. The system worked. A man with explosives in his underwear boarded a plane bound for Detroit and during the landing attempted to murder all 289 people on board.
    __
    So what we learned from Janet is that part of the system (the one that worked dontchaknow) involves hoping that the passengers subdue any would be terrorists after they fail to meet their objectives.
    __
    This is a win.
    __
    Good job guys.

    You have no idea what we were discussing, do you?

  164. 164
    valdivia says:

    @still liberal:

    no it just means we all have to go comando.

  165. 165
    debbie says:

    “Where Does the Money Go?”

    I wonder how many scanning machines could have been bought with what it cost just to make “Avatar”?

  166. 166
    Violet says:

    @Face:
    See my post above. Just had it happen to me. About three weeks ago. It does happen. Can’t say for sure, but would guess others had it happen to them as I wasn’t the only one picked for random screening by this same group of security officers.

  167. 167
    jwb says:

    @Makewi: “You are an idiot. Just wanted to point that out.”

    Pot, meet kettle.

  168. 168
    Elie says:

    @reality-based:

    “I am with Cole, I am furious. I know a little about databases. Any passenger buying a one-way international ticket should raise one red flag. Paid cash? Another red flag should go up. Flying out of a lax-security airport in Nigeria? By now, the database should be flashing bright red, and the guy should be strip-searched in Amsterdam.

    There’s just no excuse for this massive fail.. And Napolitano, damn her, should have called it a massive fail .”

    Agree completely…what the H are their databases doing if they can’t pick up this very non subtle set of incrementally alarming exceptions?

  169. 169
    reality-based says:

    @Makewi:

    an embarrassing moment for Obama? Why? Did HE implement the creation of the DHS?

    Weren’t all these airport security measures and watch lists and anti-terrorism procedures designed and implemented and endlessly bragged about by the Bush administration?

    What we have here, folks, is another Bush administration policy/procedure/system that is a huge fail. Quel surprise.

    Oh, that’s right, I forgot – being a Republican means that you are never responsible for anything you did

    Idiot.

  170. 170
    Mnemosyne says:

    @reality-based:

    Any passenger buying a one-way international ticket should raise one red flag.

    Slight correction — it now turns out that the original reporting was wrong and Abdulmutallab bought a round-trip ticket, not a one-way ticket. So that flag didn’t exist. Without it, it’s hard to make paying cash in Nigeria look extremely suspicious.

    Hopefully this incident will finally get us reform of the terrorist watch list. It’s not realistic to expect airlines to check every passenger against a list of half a million names.

  171. 171
    Svensker says:

    @Makewi:

    You are an idiot. Just wanted to point that out.

    Told you it was insane.

  172. 172
    gopher2 says:

    @Face:

    I believe there is a big xray machine that fixes this problem. But it takes the least erotic picture ever so we cannot use it.

  173. 173
    Tim I says:

    It’s absurd to blame TSA for the failures of other countries’ airport vetting! This would not happen in the US. Have any of you noticed that terrorists have not gone after a single domestic US flight since 9/11? They always target flights from abroad.

    That is a real compliment to our security here. International flights inevitably have higher security because of Customs and Immigration checks. But Al Queda would rather target those more secure flights in Europe go after a domestic flight in the US. I think TSA has grown into a respectable, efficient and vigilant organization – no I don’t work for them.

    I just fly quite a bit and I have been impressed by how they have morphed into a very professional organization. They were a ragtag bunch a few years ago. They are not anymore.

  174. 174
    Elie says:

    @Violet:

    WoW

    As much as I travel I figure sooner or later that will happen to me…

    That said, the humiliation of having that sort of invasive screening done in proximity to other passengers seems just wrong and I would complain about that…

    Yikes!

  175. 175
    Makewi says:

    @reality-based:

    You’ve correctly articulated Obama’s plan for everything. Blame Bush.

    Like I said, good job guys.

    @Midnight Marauder:

    Sweetness, you have got to be one of the most imbecilic commenters I have ever encountered. You deserve a prize.

  176. 176
    Svensker says:

    @Elie:

    While I hear and agree with a fair amount of what you say, there is an element of the potential terrorists who really would want to do this without us having done much to them at all besides just being and having the kind of culture we have. It is important to acknowledge that piece too, I think

    Of course. Which is why we should take sensible precautions. And also admit that no system worth living under can guarantee 100% safety.*

    *And we’re all gonna die anyway eventually. Which apparently many people seem to have a hard time accepting.

  177. 177
    Violet says:

    @Elie:
    You complain, you don’t get on the plane. I was grumbling – mostly because there were three security officers and the other two finished with their passengers and were just standing around while this woman was checking me. She had only checked one of my bags and I asked why the other guys couldn’t check my other small purse to speed things up. But NO! That would be sensible. So this woman handled me and my carry on bag plus purse.

    My travel companion was finished being inspected for a good 5-10 minutes before me and was just waiting around. Then I had to get dressed again. The whole thing took 15-20 minutes. I can still feel her hands all over me. It was truly invasive. Ugh.

  178. 178
    Elie says:

    @Makewi:

    And you know — fucking up everything IS what Bush did — so the approach you say Obama is adopting fits the circumstances perfectly!

  179. 179
    Punchy says:

    Uh….what restrictions?

    I knew these restrictions were capricious and rash, but holy shit, they rescinded them already? Just how Johnny Kneejerk do they look now?

  180. 180
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Punchy:

    The restrictions apparently weren’t very widespread, because I didn’t even have to wait an extra 5 minutes at the Phoenix airport yesterday.

  181. 181
    kay says:

    @Kineslaw:

    They don’t check passengers against the list. That isn’t what it’s for. It’s half a million names that end up on a list, not to be “watched” but so the names can be used to discover connections between people and groups. His first appearance on their database was the tip from his father. That put him in.

    Local law enforcement uses the same approach, but much, much smaller. For every person with an actual record there’s all the people they discovered in and around and connected to that person. The people they interviewed. The people who were identified as somehow connected to a particular crime or ongoing enterprise by other people. They don’t watch them all, and they don’t pick them all up.

    The no-fly list is not the same as the whole database. They have different uses.

  182. 182
    Elie says:

    @Violet:

    No I was thinking more of complaining in a follow up letter…

    It seems just totally wrong and invasive to be examined like that in front of others and I can see no real need to do it that way…

    I wouldnt write a heated letter, but a nice letter that says while you understand the need for periodic and random screenings of this sort that there should be parameters around treating people in a civilized fashion. Even a murderer is presumed innocent in our system. To have a presumably innocent passanger humiliated needlessly should not be accepted as the norm to get what they need and we need to maintain safety and security…

  183. 183
    D-Chance. says:

    What have we spent all this money on? How does the DHS justify its existence?

    It doesn’t have to… it’s an official government agency. Once a beaurocracy is created, it’s sole mission is to keep itself in existence. Which is why so many true conservatives were angry with Bush from the get-to after 9-11. The idea that a new government power grab could make us all safer was a laughable idea; but, it’s an idea that will continue on forever, whether it be run by Republicans or Democrat(ic)s… another legacy of the 00’s.

  184. 184
    Violet says:

    @Elie:
    I don’t know who I’d complain to, as I’m not sure who was in charge. Plus, I don’t want to put any kind of red flag next to my name as a troublemaker because then I’ll just get pulled out of line more often. Sigh. I’ve learned not to make eye contact, not to say anything, and not to be first on the plane – better chance of being picked out of line if you break those rules.

    It does seem like that level of invasiveness should be done more in private. I could occasionally see the other passengers staring at me (you know how it is – the jetway backs up and everyone stands around as the line moves slowly). They had that, “what has that person done to get that treatment” and “thank goodness it’s not me” look on their faces.

  185. 185
    Sanka says:

    What have we spent all this money on? How does the DHS justify its existence?

    That’s right. Stupid government bureaucracies. They are good only for running health-care. Seriously, a massive government-run bureaucracy would be great at handling 15% of the economy. for nothing.

  186. 186
    cervantes says:

    Again, for the third time: HE BOUGHT A ROUND TRIP TICKET. Let me put that another way. HE DID NOT BUY A ONE WAY TICKET. John’s post is erroneous and so is most of this discussion.

    ROUND TRIP TICKET. ROUND TRIP TICKET. ROUND TRIP TICKET.

  187. 187

    @Makewi:

    Oh, I think it’s appropriate to point out when a cabinet level official changes her statement within a 24 hour period absent any new facts.

    It’s probably appropriate to point it out, but I am very careful about drawing any conclusions from it. The whole DHS/TSA thing is a scam, in my view, and I don’t envy her her position in it at this point. She is not a crafty a liar as some people in government are.

    If she made a gaffe here, it is probably in sounding cheery right after the incident. She should have sounded something with more concerniness in it.

  188. 188
    Elie says:

    @Violet:

    No, I hear your point but I would think a letter to Homeland Security detailing the circumstances in a nice manner would not result in what you say, but as I said, I can see and totally understand your lack of interest in that possibility.

    sigh

    It seems more and more like we are flying in a prison — punished and strapped to our seats, prevented from doing anything except that in uncomfortable, crowded planes that can sit on the tarmak for hours or leave us stranded due to their “unavoidable” delays that they no longer cover for overnight hotel stays. In steerage, where I fly,thanks to my cheap company’s travel policies, we get no food, no comfort and now, no bathroom priveleges within an hour of arrival.

    I.Just.Hate.It.

  189. 189
    Elie says:

    @Sanka:

    By the way, you realize that a fair amount of the execution of homeland security is outsourced to private companies, right?

    You further realize that the best “homeland security” type organization in Israel, is completely government run.

    Right?

  190. 190

    @Southern Beale:

    I also don’t understand why our TSA enacts stupid, passenger-inconveniencing rules like “no personal items in your lap for the final hour” when they could be doing actual, concrete things away from view to beef up security. Sort of reinforces my view that it’s all so much security theater.

    You can’t figure out why these rules were instituted (briefly)? It took me about five minutes. The key is remembering that they apply only to flights coming *into* the US. The fact that they serve only to bug passengers is the point.

    What DHS is saying is that they are profoundly unhappy with the quality of the security screenings at airports in other countries. What they did is say, “We are going to make the lives of passengers coming from your country miserable if you don’t get your shit together.” So, they expire on the 30th, and are only half assed enforced until then. The message is that they could be put back in place, and on flights from specific airports around the world.

    The whole thing sounds like it was a huge fuckup in Lagos and Amsterdam. Given the red flags available, he should have been searched more thoroughly. The DHS doesn’t have any direct control over how things are handled at Schiphol, so they have to apply pressure where they can. Telling airlines that, once they are in US airspace, where FAA rules can be enforced, they need to be hardasses is one of the few ways of applying pressure that they have.

  191. 191
    Elie says:

    @J. Michael Neal:

    Thanks for the insights on this…corrected some of my misperceptions

  192. 192
    MattR says:

    @J. Michael Neal: An interesting thought. One would think such a plan would be more effective if the passengers knew why they were being inconvenienced so they could pressure the right folks.

  193. 193
    feebog says:

    So lets see, last month an Officer at Fort Hood shot and killed a dozen people in what Conservatives desperately argued was a terrorist act. This month, a wannabe terrorist makes an amaturish attempt at setting off an explosive on an international flight over which TSA has little or no control. I seem to forget the calls for Robert Gates to resign from the likes of Rove and his ilk following the Fort Hood incident. I guess I also missed the hue and cry for more and better gun control, especially on military bases, from the Boehner and Mitch McChinless.

  194. 194
    Makewi says:

    @DonBelacquaDelPurgatorio:

    I guess it’s too much to ask for the simple truth from someone in her position. Something along the lines of:

    “Someone fucked up, and if it were not for the incompetence of the terrorist close to 300 people would have been murdered on Christmas. We are checking into what went wrong and how we can do better in the future.”

    As for her position being enviable, one would presume that she wishes to be where she is, all other things being equal, and if she doesn’t then she should step aside and let someone else do it.

  195. 195

    @Makewi:

    Why don’t you write her and ask her, then?

  196. 196
    Brachiator says:

    @Violet:

    No kidding. We act like a bunch of timid babies. Where’s the “nothing to fear but fear itself” attitude of the past? When did we get so fearful?

    That’s odd. This morning I got on my commuter train and went to work. Fellow passengers slept, asked one another about their holidays, talked a little sports, talked about their plans for New Year’s. Ya know, lived their lives pretty much as usual.

    Nobody mentioned the plane incident. Nobody.

    I know that in corners of the media and the InterTubes, there are people peddling hysteria — and others peddling a weird hectoring anti-hysteria (“hey, so what if a few planes get blown out the sky? It would still be less than the number of people who died of the flu in 1942 on a Wednesday who lived on the left side of oak trees”).

    But I get the feeling that most people are pretty much down with the “nothing to fear except fear itself” thing.

  197. 197
    Mr Furious says:

    Since Sullivan was also showing/linking pictures of JFK on a yacht of naked chicks from 19-fucking-67, I think we can retire his blog for the day.

  198. 198
    kay says:

    @feebog:

    That occurred to me, too, during the GOP Fort Hood hysteria. I waited for the people at the top who “missed all the signs” to get called on the carpet by the Right, but heard nothing.

    Gates is beyond question or reproach, because he’s a Republican.

    Too, Republicans are barred from questioning members of the military or what they recognize as “law enforcement” (wearing a uniform) on anything, just as a general rule.

    They’re been gunning for Janet from almost the moment she was nominated. I don’t know what they find so personally offensive about this person. She was a competent governor, and she’s rational on immigration. Maybe that’s it.

  199. 199
    barstoolcadaver says:

    Um, if JFK was on that yacht in ’67, he musta been some ripe.

  200. 200
    kay says:

    @Mr Furious:

    He’s really very narrow. Asking DHS what happened is fine, but this also involves the intelligence agencies, who were worried enough to plant what looks like a cover-our-ass explanation in the (always willing to please) Washington Post. No names, but it’s full of excuses. They got the information from the embassy on the father’s concerns. What’d they do with it?
    I don’t mind this rush to find someone to blame when something happens, and DHS is as good a target as any, but it’s pretty silly to say this is one agency, particularly because we have been told over and over the Bush created this integrated anti-terror machine.

  201. 201
  202. 202

    First off, maybe fighting two wars in three countries doesn’t help.

    If there really are a half-million potential terrorists out there, that says something too.

    So here’s the solution: Let’s make people stay in their seats for the last hour of every flight. The guy with the bomb in his underwear was walking up and down the aisle, right?

  203. 203

    Also, I flew cross-country twice on one-way tickets and got NO extra screening.

  204. 204
    El Cid says:

    McClatchy calls ’em like they sees them agains.

    Who’s running the TSA? No one, thanks to Sen. Jim DeMint

    By Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers

    WASHINGTON — An attempt to blow up a trans-Atlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day would be all-consuming for the administrator of the Transportation Security Administration — if there were one.

    Instead, the post remains vacant because Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has held up President Barack Obama’s nominee in an effort to prevent TSA workers from joining a labor union.

    DeMint, in a statement, said that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempted terror attack in Detroit “is a perfect example of why the Obama administration should not unionize the TSA.”

    Two Senate committees have given Obama’s nominee, Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert, their bipartisan blessing.

    DeMint, however, has objected to a full Senate vote without a full debate, saying he wants additional testimony to clarify Southers’ stand on unionizing the TSA, a shift that Democrats support. An acting administrator is in place at the TSA, the division of the Department of Homeland Security that oversees airport security.

    Yup. This is Uh-merika. A minority party Senator from South-Fucking-Carolina is preventing us from having a qualified transportation chief on ‘a ’cause uh he don’t lahk the yoo-nyuns.

    But then, DeMint got his way from the administration on Honduras, so, maybe he’ll get this too.

  205. 205
    HyperIon says:

    @cervantes: Let me try again—He BOUGHT A ROUND TRIP TICKET . John’s post is erroneous.

    Facts are such silly things, doncha know?

  206. 206
    El Cid says:

    I just need to know if the guy bought a one way ticket or not. Is there anyone on here who can help out with that question?

  207. 207
    Makewi says:

    @El Cid:

    Are you saying that Gale Rossides is somehow not qualified to do the job she is currently doing, or are you just an idiot trying to find some way to blame this epic failure on the dreaded GOP?

    This was not a TSA failure. This was a failure of the Dept of State and the vaunted smart diplomacy that gets results in international cooperation.

  208. 208
    El Cid says:

    @Makewi: I was just being over the top as the GOP is wont. Anyone who labels this an “epic failure” of a Nigerian burning his legs on a plane is, more likely, an idiot.

    But, yes, Jim DeMint cares zero about the safety or security of American citizens, and is using his position to simply attempt to avert possible union efforts at the TSA. Whether or not he would be personally happy to have people die as a result of his efforts, why, I can’t say, but he is a freakish monster, so, it’s possible.

  209. 209
    Ash says:

    1) This nut-buster guy bought a ROUND TRIP TICKET.

    2) He paid with cash, in a country where approximately .06% of the population has credit cards. ( http://www.creditcards.com/cre.....a-1276.php )

    3) His name was on some list with half a million other names.

    This is what is called an overreaction. The only way you’re gonna be completely safe is if we all fly naked and have cavity searches beforehand, and whining about other preventative measures is stupid.

  210. 210
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @makewi #91 / 1:28 pm

    Obama claiming that his super diplomacy skills would prevent this sort of thing.

    Please provide a link or a reasonable citation, with context, for this claim. I don’t believe that Obama, either as candidate or president, ever said that any of his actions or policies would *prevent* something from happening, or guarantee any specific outcome. Man up here and provide a link.

  211. 211
    Stefan says:

    The only way you’re gonna be completely safe is if we all fly naked and have cavity searches beforehand, and whining about other preventative measures is stupid.

    Suddenly I’m picturing a flight full of dominatrix stewardesses…..

    And yes, how apt that I have to hit “Submit” to post this…..

  212. 212
    Makewi says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Heh. I ask for attribution a lot around here and I’ll give you the same answer I always get. Do your own homework!

  213. 213
    Makewi says:

    Anyone who labels this an “epic failure” of a Nigerian burning his legs on a plane is, more likely, an idiot.

    Nice, so you are sorry that he didn’t succeed in his attempt to kill 300 people. He was well connected, he made it on board, he bided his time and he would have killed many on Christmas but for the failure of the detonator and what do you classify it as? A Nigerian who burned his legs on an airplane.

    You are one sad excuse for a human being.

  214. 214
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @montysano #143

    IIRC you are in northern Alabama, right? I travel a lot in GA, AL, MS, TN, NC and SC, and I’m with you, if I can drive it in ~ 8 hours, I simply will not fly. Don’t understand my colleagues who fly from Atlanta þo, say, Birmingham or Nashville or Greenville when they could get there by car in roughly the same time, much more scenic, and far less hassle.

    /scratches head perplexedly

  215. 215
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @makewi #212

    Um, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the one who made the dubious claim. I’m not doing your fucking work for you. Asshole.

  216. 216
    El Cid says:

    @Makewi: If I thought I was communicating with a real, sane human being, and not you, I’d have a serious dialogue. But you’re not, so, no.

    This wasn’t an “epic failure”, though certainly it could have been, as would many, many terrorist attempts. And you useless shit-bag, thanks for trying to suggest I was minimizing what leg-burner was aiming to do — you remind me of those morons who think you sound more serious if you use the term “homicide bomber” to “suicide bomber”, or the ultra-morons who think that Obama is blinking his approval to bin Laden because government officials call this an “attempt” at terrorism rather than “terrorism”.

  217. 217
    Keith G says:

    @Ash: Over reaction, I totally agree.

    And then I click to the NYT and see this:

    Yet the visual contrasts have been jarring. Pictures of passengers enduring tougher security screening at the airport were juxtaposed against images of the president soaking in the sun and surf of this tropical getaway.

    Words fail me.

  218. 218
    Stefan says:

    Words fail me.

    What’s even more galling is that this is the visual contrast that the news media itself has been creating. They’re the ones juxtaposing the images! First they slap up a picture of a passenger security line, then they slap up a picture of Obama on vacation (at Christmas, for Christ’s sake! Why does he feel he gets to take off at Christmas when everyone else has to work that day!?!? What nerve!), then they claim that the very odd pairing that they themselves have just forced into the viewer’s mind is disturbing for the viewer. It’s Propaganda 101.

  219. 219
    Stefan says:

    Since I was with my family for the holidays, I had to break my usual practice and actually watch a bit of CNN. During one spot about the president’s reaction to the failed attack, they had one of their correspondents accompanying Obama in Hawaii deliver his report while standing in front of a beach filled with surfers and sunbathers. Why? Was Obama at that beach? No. Did the beach have anything to do with the substance of his report? No. Was there the remotest connection whatsoever? No. But the geniuses at CNN thought hey, let’s have him stand at a beach to give his report on the White Houses’ reaction because, because….hey, it’s Hawaii!

    I was only surprised they didn’t have him wear a lei and do his next piece while chowing down at a luau.

  220. 220
    kb says:

    As for using cash to buy a ticket, the US’s State Department travel advice for Nigeria remarks that

    Nigeria is a cash economy, and it is usually necessary to carry sufficient currency to cover the expenses of a planned visit, which makes travelers an attractive target for criminals. Credit cards are rarely accepted beyond a few upscale hotels. Due to credit card fraud in Nigeria and by cohorts in the United States, credit card use should be considered carefully.

    So while it would be extremely odd to do this in a western country, in Nigeria it looks like it’s not so strange.

  221. 221
    Keith G says:

    So, ah, Yemen is the home of the most current and obvious terror threat to the USA, not Afghanistan. Interesting.

    On PBS News Hour, Gwen Ifil moderated a very calm and enlightening panel discussion on the state of what we know. If you cannot watch the broadcast, I imagine it will be up here at some point:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/

  222. 222
    Cyrus says:

    @Violet:

    I’ve been making that argument in other threads. In addition to the one-way ticket bought with cash, he didn’t check any bags.

    That doesn’t seem like a red flag to me. Who does that these days? I did when I flew back to my parent’s for Christmas, and they complained and looked at me funny. Why pay the extra fee, if it’s really that heavy why not pack lighter, etc. (Answers: I think I do pack pretty lightly, but there’s only so lightly you can pack when flying to Vermont in the winter. And the extra fee comes out to less than 10 percent the cost of the tickets. For the convenience of not having to carry my bag around the airport for at least an hour and maybe a lot more, I might call that a fair price. And I see people lugging massive suitcases onto planes that are already cramped as it is; I don’t want to contribute to that, and more practically, want a little legroom.) A one-way ticket with cash, fair enough, but these days isn’t not checking bags the rule rather than the exception?

  223. 223
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    Old jolk from my years with the Customs “Service:” How do you smuggle an a-bomb into the USA? Simple. Just disguise it as cocaine.

    Haw haw haw guffaw

  224. 224
    brantl says:

    Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash? Who does that besides drug runners and terrorists?

    I’ll bet lots of people who come over on the technical jobs-style visas do that. Especially if they are fresh out of school. Or their soon-to-be brides.

  225. 225
    Stefan says:

    Have any of you paid for a one-way overseas plane ticket with cash? Who does that besides drug runners and terrorists?

    When I was backpacking around the world years ago, I paid for a one-way ticket from SE Asia to the US with cash (Amex traveller’s cheques that I’d cashed in).

  226. 226
    mwing says:

    I have bought overseas one-way airline tickets with cash, as a college student, in fact, most college kids I knew who traveled did the same.
    But, that was twenty years ago, before most college kids had credit cards.

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