Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Air Terror Attempt Exposes Incompetence

In response to the attempt to blow up an airplane in Detroit, the TSA is doing its usual lousy job of fighting the last war rather than preparing for the next one. Because this person tried to blow up the plane as it landed, they’ve now got a new rule requiring passengers to stay in their seats for the last hour of a flight:

But several airlines released detailed information about the restrictions, saying that passengers on international flights coming to the United States will apparently have to remain in their seats for the last hour of a flight without any personal items on their laps.

So if he had tried to blow it up in the 2nd hour of the flight, or the third hour, would they then require passengers to stay in their seats during those hours instead? The timing is entirely incidental and has nothing to do with the situation. Balko reacts correctly:

In addition to keeping with its usually tradition of making policy on a reactionary basis, this one wouldn’t even have done anything to prevent the attempt over the weekend. The guy was in his seat when he tried to light the explosive device. And the passenger who confronted him got out of his seat to do it.

Also, if the goal was to bring the plane down from the air, why add restrictions for the last hour of the flight?

Seems to me that what this, Flight 93, and the Richard Reid incident have shown us is that the best line of defense against airplane-based terrorism is us. Alert, aware, informed passengers.

TSA, on the other hand, equates hassle with safety. For all the crap they put us through, this guy still got some sort of explosive material on the plane from Amsterdam. He was stopped by law-abiding passengers. So TSA responds to all of this by . . . announcing plans to hassle law-abiding U.S. passengers even more.

If you’re really cynical, you could make a good argument that they’re really only interested in the appearance of safety. They’ve simply concluded that the more difficult they make your flight, the safer you’ll feel. Never mind if any of the theatrics actually work.

On top of all of that, it’s becoming more and more clear that this guy should never have been allowed on a plane in the first place. The government had been warned specifically about him by his father three months ago, who went to the US embassy and told them that he had gotten involved with jihadi groups in Yemen. We have a no fly list full of people who aren’t terrorists, how did this guy not get on that list?

Why wasn’t he at — at the very least — pulled aside for a supplemental inspection when boarding the plane? Such an inspection would likely have detected the bomb material and foiled the plot before it got started. I know a guy of Arab/Persian descent who has lived in this country for decades who gets pulled for additional inspections on virtually every flight he takes, even domestic flights. But this guy, about whom our government was explicitly warned by his own father, manages to board an international flight without a second glance.

And then Janet Napolitano goes on TV and says that the situation shows that “the system works”? The only thing that prevented this from being 300 dead people was the fact that the bomber couldn’t ignite the bomb — and absolutely nothing we had in place prevented him from building it or getting it on board the plane. It really should be a requirement, I think, that the head of the Department of Homeland Security be at least in close proximity to the reality that the rest of us live in.

There is some serious incompetence going on here, probably in the lack of communication between various parts of the government – the same problem that allowed 9/11 to take place. And the incompetence is only continuing in response to the situation.