America’s Wrong Reaction To Terror

by Diane Dimond on January 4, 2010

Umar Wants To Kill Americans

Umar Wanted To Kill Americans

There is a hue and cry across the land for tighter security at airports following the thwarted Christmas day terror attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on board the Northwest Airline flight bound for Detroit. As if making us take off more clothes at check points, or demanding we sit in our seats for the last hour of a flight or removing blankets from our laps will insure safer flights.

I cannot jump on this bandwagon.

Concentrating on more ways to punish all the rest of us because of a delusional student terrorist from Nigeria makes about as much sense as what happened after …another failed Christmas time terrorist, Richard Reid, tried to ignite explosives in his shoe on December 22, 2001.

Would-be Shoe Bomber Reid

Reid's Actions Made Us Change Airports Forever

After Reid’s try at martyrdom America decided we should all have our shoes X-rayed … and ultimately our computers, our coats, our carry-on fluids and, if an airport has the right equipment, our full body.

Life at the airport has been an evolving scene of humiliation and loss of personal freedoms ever since. And after all our sacrificial efforts terrorists have now proven they can go through coat-belt-shoe X-rays and still get on board jetliners carrying explosives.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for strict security measures against terrorism but agreeing that we should all be eyed as equally potentially guilty at the airport just never sat right with me. From the get-go it felt like a huge injustice. It feels like junior high when the teacher kept all of us on detention for a week because one moron let loose with a spitball. I thought back then and I think now we’re better off in the long run figuring out a way to grab up the bad guy to beat them at their own game.

If we’re really serious about making our airports safer we need to stop thinking so narrowly, stop thinking that full

Hidden Weapons Fully Visible

Hidden Weapons Fully Visible

body scan machines and more tension filled TSA X-ray lines are going to do the trick. They won’t. Just as Abdulmutallab’s terrorist buddies figured out a way to sew explosives into the crotch of his underwear other fanatics will discover new ways to get around security procedures.

We need to think in a completely different way. We need to take a look at the airport widely considered to be the safest in the world: Ben Gurion International in Tel Aviv. There are stark differences between their security methods and ours and, frankly, their way seems much smarter.

First, passengers aren’t put through indignities like removing clothing or items from their luggage. They aren’t even allowed inside the airport until they’ve been screened by intelligence officers (think our Secret Service agents) who

Ben Gurion - Safest Airport in the World

Ben Gurion - Safest Airport in the World

actually engage passengers in conversation. Imagine! Unlike our TSA agents, who merely bellow out commands at the X-ray machines, Israeli personnel use their intuition to look for telltale signs of hostility or nervousness. Luggage in Israel is never checked at the curb. Once a person has been cleared to enter the building their bags stay with them for a full luggage check. Of course, the Israelis’ look for weapons and explosives but they don’t concentrate on finding things the passenger might be carrying – they concentrate on each passenger. They also use more air marshals on flights and highly trained staff watching for any odd airport behavior like wearing bulky clothing or displays of anxiety. Do the Israeli’s engage in profiling passengers? You bet and the results speak volumes – no flight leaving Ben Gurion has ever been hijacked, not one of the state’s El Al planes has been attacked by terrorists in 35 years.

America has to start thinking outside the box on this. First, we have to stop being squeamish about embracing the idea that some young radical Muslim men are threats. I can think of no terrorist plot against an American airliner that didn’t involve a fanatic Muslim man. To think otherwise is like asking police to take down a Chinese gang without targeting Chinese people.

Must Do More Than Bark Commands

Must Do More Than Bark Commands

We have to create a much more robust and intelligent TSA force that is fully engaged in keeping air travel safe. It’s got to be more than agents who simply bark out robotic orders to empty pockets and toss water bottles.

All U.S. intelligence agencies have to share information on suspected terrorists. We now learn the CIA had information on “The Nigerian” who was plotting with terrorist elements in Yemen but that information wasn’t passed on. The Department of Homeland Security maintains both the “No Fly List” (4 thousand suspects who are not allowed to board any plane bound for America) and the “Terror Watch List” for mere suspects. Abdulmutallab was on the second list but the dots were never connected. Not even after his own father reported him to the CIA as terror threat.

This is just not acceptable.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Henry Bowman January 4, 2010 at 5:08 pm
DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:36 am

What a great read! Thanks for sending that link, Henry. ~ DD

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Jim January 5, 2010 at 3:15 am

Diane: You are right on the money. I think most of us critical thinkers know that "out of the box" thinking anywhere in the Federal government is very rare indeed. The only reason the TSA implements countermeasures after the fact is to cover their behinds. They are not accounbtable for breaking up the next attack, but theyt feel compelled to "do something" after a terror attempt….no matter how many good people suffer the consequences.

If we fired the TSA chief after each failure, it would look like "musical chairs" over there. There are no incentives to original thinking.

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DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:17 am

Facebook Friend Marlo B. writes:

"Tell It, Ms. Dimond!!!"

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:19 am

Facebook Friend Randy H. and others replied to my question : Why doesn't the USA adopt the Israeli procedure for airport safety:

"The answer to your question is found in four letters: A-C-L-U."

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DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:19 am

Facebook Friend Bill S. writes:

"Because the ACLU and others are soooo Sensitive… the Israelis cares more about lives than feelings"

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Paul Bates January 6, 2010 at 12:20 am

I agree with everything that you said. One of the most important points is that we are dealing with an ideaology, not a government that we can hold responsible. That is very dangerous and different from anything this country has fought before. People need to dwell on that thought for a while. Then they might begin to understand why we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. These ideaologists are not going to stop as long as they can measure success (of any kind) from their efforts. Making us feel afraid is success. Disrupting our lives is success. Getting any kind of reaction from us, on the television news, or in the newspaper, highlights what they see as their cause. And we give that to them over and over. That's why Israeli security makes sense. Then we can stop spending so much time thinking about them and their cause. And what is their cause? If you are not willing to think as they do, then you need to die. It's really that simple.

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DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:20 am

Facebook Friend Carolyn L. writes:

"First question, is this still America? "

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:21 am

Facebook (and Voiceover) Friend Russ DeB. writes:

"Because it's just SO much easier to detain Grandma for her toothpaste, or a guy bringing HONEY into Bakersfield (???)… or to bust Cat Stevens because some culturally-enlightened individual decided he belonged on a "no-fly list"… than it is, apparently, to figure out that some knucklehead with a one-way ticket and no luggage is flying overseas to Detroit, wearing no coat in the dead of winter, MIGHT BE SUSPICIOUS?

However, every time we hassle Grandma, we remind the public at large to remain docile, with the added bonus of making you think that TSA is actually on the case. It's behavioral modification on a mass scale. And most of all… it's THEATER.

(Well… you asked. :-)… "

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DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:22 am

Facebook Friend Gabriel D. writes:

"This ties in with:
Does US Intelligence exist or do we need to outsource to Mossad?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34637190/ns/politics-… "

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:23 am

Facebook Friend Bill S. counters:

"Lyn, if the US sneezes, the World gets Pneumonia. Live it. Learn it."

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:24 am

Facebook Friend Laya L. writes:

"I agree totally with Russ di Bello's original post…. and Diane!!!"

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:27 am

Facebook Friend Orlando B. writes:

"I love you, Diane"

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DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:37 am

Another great read! ~ DD

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Gabriel Dayan January 6, 2010 at 12:50 am

Also check out this 30 minute interview with El Al.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lV2LPu9f-VQ

Reply

DianeDimond January 6, 2010 at 12:22 am

Facebook Friend Lynn N. writes

"I think the US thinks it owns the world!!!"

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Henry Bowman January 6, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Well, another thought, in part inspired by this post of Megan McArdle. To profile the way that the Israelis do actually takes relatively intelligent, well-trained personnel. I doubt the TSA employs anyone like that, and anyone who would meet those qualifications would not want to work for the TSA.

So, unless we get rid of the TSA, we're screwed.

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Matt Kimberly January 7, 2010 at 12:20 am

Excellent post, Diane. I agree. We have to get over our fears about profiling. If we are saving lives, what difference does it make if we seek out the group that is most known for terrorist attacks on the United States.

As for the innocent Middle Easterners who may not like this idea, I say this: If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about. It isn’t personal. It’s just the way it is. If the majority of people blowing up airplanes were from somewhere else, then they would be the focus.

Also, don’t get upset at security personnel because they are ‘singling you out’. They are saving YOUR LIFE too, my friend.

Nice going, Diane. I pray that our nation will follow your example. Ciao! 🙂

Matt

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"Casey" Stangel January 13, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I agree with you. It may be a monumental task since we have thousands more flights and many more airports but we could do it. I liked your analogy about taking down a Chinese gang. I wish we could get back to saying what we think and being honest about it. Sometimes it gets us in trouble but that is life.

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DianeDimond January 14, 2010 at 6:20 pm

DD Web Site Reader writes:

"Excellent article "US Must Think Outside the TSA Box". Another item that you might want to consider, we (the US Scientific Community) is really doing a HUGE dis-service by providing the terrorists with all the reasons why the latest attempt failed (in New Mexico recently, a Vice President of Research at New Mexico Tech explains why the latest explosive did not work?, other experts publish articles why a dirty bomb is not a big deal). So in effect we are helping the terrorists hone their skills and approaches!!!!! by pointing out what they did wrong or what they could do wrong. Do not tell them why an attempt failed."

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