Soldiers walk "point " daily all over Afghanistan and Iraq, accepting their share of the risk inherent in the life their unit is assigned.
Today, the talking heads and the television newsies spent the morning (on all channels) seeking to torture from the language an assurance that air travel for the public (read themselves) could be made 100% safe from ANY sort of attack devised by devised by "fiendish" jihadi minds. This goal was never quite reached. John Brennan, the president's terrorism man, was not so foolish as to give an assurance like that.
No security system devised by the mind of man can be 100% secure against the minds of other men. There will always be some chance, however slight, that your perfumed hindquarters may be in a first class seat when the cry goes up, "Allahu !Akbar!" and that could be the last thing you ever hear. Polticians can fuss and slander each other. Consultants can continue to make seas of money working on airline security, but the possibility will always be there…. "Allahu Ak…" (Apparent silence, perhaps replaced by a rushing sound on the way from 30,000 feet to the surface)
Sooo, do you really want to travel by air? Bin Laden reckons that you don't, really… but that greed or circumstance will force you to continue and that being the case he has gotten a tremendous "bang for the buck" in this operation. He will continue with this line of endeavor, and hopes that you deploy a few hundred thousand more troops to places like Yemen. pl
If the U.S. closes its embassy in in every place where “al Qaida” waves a flag or “issues a threat” how long ’til you close down the state department?
Isn’t the U.S. is again acting EXACTLY the way the supposed Osama Bin Laden wants it to act?
Crossing the boarder before 9/11/2001
I with wife drive down to the North Dakota/Canadian boarder. Time 1:00 PM.
Officer: Hello sir, where are you headed?
Me: Just a few miles across the boarder for a going away party.
Officer: Who are you planning to visit?
Mike Wannel’s daughter is leaving for university in Toronto, and they are having a going away party.
Officer: You’re late!
Me: I’m late?
Officer: Yes her aunty came through here an hour ago with a bunch of food so I’m guessing you’re late for lunch.
Me: Ya, I guess we should hurry there.
Officer: It’s too bad Julie is moving away.
Me: Yes she’s a very nice girl.
Officer: And her mom’s real nice too.
Me: Ya, Wendy’s real nice.
Officer: But her uncle is a bit of a character
Me: Ya, I think he went a little off in the Vietnam war.
(This conversation continues for good 10 min.)
My Wife (whispering to me): We have to get going!!!
Me to Officer: Well I better be getting along
Officer: Must be a great meal at the Wannel’s
Me to Officer while putting car in drive but pressing the brake: Yup, I guess I better get there.
Officer: That Wendy sure knows how to cook.
Me: Yup, guess I’ll just be going now.
Then I gently take pressure off the brake, waiting for the officer to say some thing like “OK you’re free to go”, or “Have a good meal sir, drive carefully”, or “Sir, don’t move your car until I instruct you to!” but he never does, and I just slowly drive away.
He’s still standing there as I check the rear view mirror.
Those were the days.
A lone gunman terrorized Washington, DC, a lone ineffectual bomber has terrorized the USA air industry — is this a sign of great unsecurity within the populance?
As 30 000+ die on the roads yearly, perhapws it is only the regularly flying elite which is trembling. Whatever the case, a $1000 expense can disrupt a once great society. Sad!
“On Fox News Saturday, guest Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (retired) offered a radical solution for improving national security. “We have to use profiling,” he said, “And I mean be very serious and harsh about the profiling.” Then McInerney proposed the United States should strip search all 18-28 year old Muslim men at airports.”
I WONDER: HOW’s Mc. and his ilk going to identify us Muslims? Unless he proposes we start carrying an ID that spells our religious affiliation just like in ……….LEBANON!?!
Yes, our current elites seem to make a mockery of “Home of the Brave”.
Given all the fearful quivering about those “fiendish jihadis” on display today, I think the only way I’ll be brave enough to endure the TSA and a jam packed airliner is if a sacrificial government bureaucrat meets a timely end and gets fired. I nominate our ever courageous anti-terrorism tzar, John Brennan.
OK, snark off. But I mean it about Brennan. Instead of talking today, he should be taking the fall. After all, isn’t he the guy who helped dream up the “vaunted” CTC? And advocate data mining and profiling techniques to identify those fiendish jihadis? And extraterritorial assassination programs to blot them out before they fought us here? Seems to me he should return to the world of contracted intelligence services (and passport checking scandals).
Ron Paul was labelled an anti-semite the other evening on the Larry King show by Ben Stein, his crime was to say we are being attacked because we occupy their lands – the same conclusion reached by the 911 Commission. I don’t suppose Ben Stein will be happy till every single person over there gets killed by us. I want a draft back.
We had a terrorist attack that didn’t work but it did work, next stop – Yemen!!!
Forgive me if I sound conspiratorial, but a week or so before Christmas, US involvement in Yemen’s civil war(s) became public. Then, the terrorist incident.
Now, its not as if there are no Muslims that would ahppily blow up a plane. But at the same time, the Gulf of Tonken incident never actually happened, Iraq didn’t have WMD, the Spanish didn’t blow up the Maine, and Iraqi soldiers didn’t toss babies out of incubators.
Yet we were told with straight face that all those things did happen.
Of course this does not mean the same about this incident, but I’m way past believing everything I hear from the government.
Yes. I can understand that. Pl
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SP. I first knew him in SA when he was dog-robbing for Alan Fiers. Nothing much has changed. Pl
Sent wirelessly via BlackBerry from T-Mobile.
Wishing to achieve 100% security at the airport is much like the flawed French belief that the Maginot Line would protect them from another German invasion. Those crafty Germans failed to follow the game plan of the French and attacked through the Ardennes. I suspect UBL and AQ will merely do the same. Nothing is assured in this world except birth, death, and taxes!
The threat from AQAP plus the Somalis are symbolically sending reinforcements, so symbolically we are closing our embassy?
I wonder how this looks in Riyadh, Cairo, Tel-Aviv, and Tehran.
UBL is showing us how foolish we are in surging in AfPak when we are so venerable everywhere else.
Surge in Yemen? Somalia? Hit Iran?
UBL must be smiling so must Ahmadinejad, Hu, et al
First of all, this Farouk guy is obviously not the brightest bulb in the box. I don’t understand how using liquid detonator will ever work. Of course all he ever gonna get is a big fizzle plus smoke no matter at most. So this scheme should be encouraged because it’s cheaper than actually capturing a terrorist. The guy with his wee-wee burned in the middle of smoke is the terrorist. Get the state dept. a free airplane ticket program for all terrorists who want to burn their wee-wee in public. I for one think this should be incorporated into FBI trick book for capturing terrorist.
Everybody here should chuckle in glee. This is the type of thing you smack your high school chemistry lab partner upside the head because he didn’t read class note before making big smoke in the room.
on to more serious item:
Where did he get the PETN? This is very serious if al qaeda can manufacture high quality PETN on their own. This part should be taken seriously because a capable terrorist group will then be able to make things like semtex and plastic explosive. combined with shaped charge and soft plastic, we are talking about never before terrorism capability. Think IRA level of destruction here. But they don’t do suicide bombing. So, … do the math.
One thing that the Pakistani has yet to realize about their taliban buddy. The Iraq invasion has given af-pak taliban IED capability not on ISI trick book. And Pakistan has no way stopping well made IED/explosive. So the Pakistani better get serious about fighting al qaeda, instead of joking around and keeping it as puppy for controlling US involvement/scaring India.
I for one personally think, it is time to rethink international air travel. How people move. The hub and spokes/giant airports, moving people around like cattle over 20-30,000 miles…
Air travel system has to be redesigned.
Nevermind terrorism. Things like epidemic spread is far more dangerous for everybody.
Time for more sensible solution, instead of throwing even more silly security theater that does nothing to improve travel security.
What does ‘dog-robbing’ mean? I can’t find a translation anywhere …
Well, I cannot say I am surprised. One wonders how close Cliff and John remain these days? I wonder if they keep up with Ollie too?
And to Lysander, I too have some questions about this breakdown. Of course, the Yemeni civil war has more to do with the Houthis up in Sa’ada (and involves Saudi Arabia) than it ever had to do with AQ or even AQAP. And that fighting started during the summer. So, it is amazing how all of a sudden we have another PETN clothing bomber (who fails)…
Speaking as a disgruntled and grumpy frequent traveler, TSA’s charter is little more than to make life difficult for all passengers. Every time there’s an incident or near-incident, passengers start getting more patdowns, the lines are longer and the TSA employees look at you grimly. It’s interesting how this always happens after, but somehow never before. This here
( http://www.satirewire.com/news/march02/screeners.shtml ) rather sums it up rather nicely.
Unfortunately having had to travel this past week, greed factor, I saw some minor but welcome changes. At my first terminal there was a Chatty Cathy checking id’s and after going through my bag check I was again told that my 2 quart zip lock bag should not have been used to store my toiletries but to use a 1 quart bag, will have to tell the wife to buy some but I know she will object cause they store little. At the connection terminal I noticed a lot of ICE officers running around in golf carts. On the return flight the guy checking id’s seemed to have a superior attitude and was useless. On the bag check the x-ray girl flagged my briefcase and a TSA guy stopped the line and methodically dumped all the contents in grey buckets and put them through the x-ray again passing muster. Guess the laptop charger cords was the culprit. Again the ICE boys in their golf carts at the connection terminal.
If I was running TSA I would put only Chatty Chathy’s checking id’s cause at least they will know if they get a poor response to their dialog that an individual gets a good checking.
Now more importantly, when they start checking groins I know it will be time to turn in my frequent flyer cards and call it quits.
Underwear Bombs, wow, we are in for a long fight.
I’m totally over the junk we hear from the government on this incident. If it is such a damn big deal, why don’t the authorities just ban all air travel? I’d rather ride first class in the smoking section of my own car.
I’m really tired of the US govt trying to make me afraid. Screw it, the roads in this country are more dangerous. Treat us like adults. This guy couldn’t even set his gonads on fire and if he did, too bad for him.
Happy New Year and may this year be full of more sanity.
You know Colonel. Your not being officially involved with this administration or the last regarding terrorism and the ME is both a loss for the American public and a blessing…especially for you….
What surprised me is that a terrorist got caught just AFTER the defense budget got approved!
… found it:
As the list of “failed” states housing AQ grows and grows, what does this proliferation say about the US strategy post 9/11 forgetting the tactics?
Maybe I should say is there a strategy? Could that be documented or is it every executive branch agency or member of Congress or their staffs for themselves? Was the basic delusion that like Marshall and FDR choosing Europe first after December 7th, 1941, choosing Iraq first was the equivalent of that strategy?
There simply is no such thing as “perfect” security or being “perfectly” secure; a fact that is never confronted by the beltway jawbones.
I wonder why not?
Personally I think that this question is never asked because it encourages one to think of how to manage risks rather than defeat enemies or secure territory — home territory or foreign. You can’t endlessly escalate or kick the can down the road while managing risks…
“Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.”
It might be interesting to see the pre-TSA statistics. As one of the commentators to this article said, “you have a greater chance of your refrigerator killing you than a terrorist killing you”.
I found a blog about Yemen, Waq al Waq. It’s run by two guys who have studied Yemen.
Here is the link: http://islamandinsurgencyinyemen.blogspot.com/
I found the link at http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/.
A dog-robber fights the other dogs for scraps under his master’s table. pl
“In all the understandable furore about Umar Abdulmutallab, the alleged pants bomber – as we must surely come to think of him – it is easy to see why one interesting side issue has been neglected.
But surely we should consider what the miserable plot of the exploding smalls tells us about the worth of a British education these days. I mean, for heaven’s sake, the man paid $75,000 for a degree in mechanical engineering at University College London, yet he got on a plane with a load of explosives shoved down his undies and emerged with just a singed backside to show for it. $75,000!! That’s a lot of bucks for no bang. Obviously it’s a good outcome for humanity, but still, this ought to be a flashing red light to ministers.
Is it any wonder British manufacturing is in such dire straits?”
Here Robert Shrimsley of the FT on 12/30/09 considers a critical angle of this affair that some may have overlooked.
Kidding. Clearly, he is taking the piss (likely about more than the state of British universities). And well he should.
Juan Cole’s web today has a very bleak picture of what has recently transpired in Afghanistan: protests over civilian casualties, university students demanding US out, rejection of cabinet appointments, etc. A warning to Obama to “wise up” fast!
There are and will be a lot of bitter comments from Foreign Service Officers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan about the closing of Embassy Sana’a. Like – “You tell me that Sana’a is more dangerous than what I do in Mosul (or Kandahar)”?
Very interesting conclusion, Col. Lang.. “From UBL’s point of view, a very good Sunday”
These Sunday shows are more an exchange of talking points are they not?
And if the finger pointing causes some panic among the viewing public well, maybe they’ll be motivated to vote a different way next time…
I just never considered that the result of it all could be thought of as giving UBL a good day.
This guy should get dead penalty period. Who is in charge of this?
Mr. Faisal settled in Britain in the early 1990s and became imam of the Brixton mosque in South London, which was reported to have been frequented by Richard C. Reid, the so-called shoe bomber who sought to blow up an airliner bound for the United States just before Christmas in 2001.
Abdul Haqq Bakr, the chairman of Brixton Mosque and Islamic Cultural Center, said at the time that Mr. Reid had joined prayers at the mosque in late 1995 and left in 1998.
Zacarias Moussaoui, who was sentenced in the United States in 2006 to life in federal prison after he admitted knowledge of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, also attended prayers at the Brixton mosque.
Mr. Faisal, a Jamaican-born convert to Islam who studied in Saudi Arabia, was found guilty in 2003 of encouraging followers to use chemical and nuclear weapons against their enemies from other faiths. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
With regard to the bugaboo of less-than-perfect security, see David Brooks’s NYT column from last Friday. He makes the point that there is a widely held kind of adolescent expectation that government institutions should work perfectly, which is accompanied by inevitable disappointment and disillusionment when they don’t. This fantasy of perfectibility leads to both violent reaction and cynical apathy. We do not build fault-tolerant public systems and processes because we are not allowed to admit that mistakes will be made, resources wasted and promising ideas will sometimes fail in practice. We trivialize or vilify the notion of public services and instead build Christmas trees decorated with congressional bribes or we do nothing at all.
In some quarters compromises with reality are known as “overhead” and while we all try to minimize overhead we all have to live with a certain amount of it. Friction exists. There is no such thing as a perpetual motion machine. And yet, what politician ever runs (successfully) on a platform of lowered expectations? Aspirations are deliberately blurred with expectations when it is expedient. All adjectives must be superlatives when America is the subject. Even our enemies must be the most dangerous, the most evil. Fear of our bigger-than-life antagonists has famously been manipulated and mirrored in a demand for nothing less than perfect safety. It cannot be, but who can profit from daring to say so?
SP & Lysander, see what you believe after you read this. Its a nicely detailed review of who among the cast of characters now offering chapter and verse on both the plot and the intel failures said what they knew when, before and after the smoking undies hit the fan.
My cynicism and paranoia about the GWOT & the WOD’s need nurturing, this is like a day at the spa.
Here’s a link to an article to which I periodically return, “The War Bin Laden Wanted”, first disseminated in 2004. This makes it an “oldie”; but sadly, the rope-a-dope strategy of Bin Laden and his ilk still seems to work rather well.
To paraphrase our past Head Honcho, “Is our leaders learning?”
On the evidence, sadly, I’d have to go with “No”.
Happy New Year to all.
One of the best pieces on how America institutionally, as well as Americans themselves, responds to threats of terrorism is Professor John Mueller’s excellent book: “Overblown”.
Apparently Jon Stewart of the Daily Show can identify road apples:
After reading an article that said security at Amsterdam Airport, which allowed the underwear bomber to pass through, is contracted to an Israeli comapany called ICTS; I went to the companies website where they denied providing security there.
I found out security at Schiphol is provided by I-Sec International, but ICTS is its parent company. This is from their website: “I-SEC International Security B.V. is pleased to report its wholly owned subsidiary I-SEC Netherlands has been awarded a five year contract to provide passenger screening services (Check Point) to Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
This contract will commence in February 2008 and replaces an existing contract that the Company has with a partner. The partnership will end when the new contract is in place. In order to support this contract I-SEC will add five hundred to six hundred agents to its employee count. It is anticipated that I-SEC will process some 20,000 passenger at these check points on a daily basis.
Mr. Menachem Atzmon, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ICTS International, the parent company, stated that, “this contract is a major win for I-SEC and is evidence to the trust that Schiphol International airport management puts in I-SEC”.”
ICTS may have divested itself of I-SEC but I can’t find anything concrete on that at the moment.
According to this current stock profile, ICTS International N.V. still owns I-SEC International.
oops, here it is: