the whitestick papers

looking at politics from a different perspective

The Christmas that almost wasn’t

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So, a Nigerian Muslim tried to blow up a Delta jet as it landed in Detroit.  The operative word here is “tried”; whatever he was trying to do failed.  Kudos to the Dutch passenger who risked his life to stop him and, by all accounts, everyone on board did well under the circumstances.  I mean, it would be tough to figure out exactly what to do if the guy three seats over suddenly had his pants catch fire.  Some of the folks reportedly did what I think my first response would be – get some water and put him out!

The selection of  Christmas Day for a terrorist attack is no accident, and the symbolism makes me think there’s more to this than just one guy.  I’ve heard he claims it was an al Qaida request, but I kind of wonder whether it really was.  They may be terrorists, but they’re fairly effective at it.  It seems to me that, if they planned for a bomb to go off, it would have gone off.  Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.  In any event, I doubt he was working on his own.

The most troubling part of this, in my opinion, is that he was even able to get something potentially dangerous on board.  The guy’s on a “no-fly” list but still was waved through by the security forces of three nations – Nigeria, the Netherlands and the United States – and you’d think at least one of them would have picked up on it.  That they didn’t confirms what many have suspected – that things aren’t as secure as we’d like to think, or as our government would have us believe.

It would be easy to point fingers at the Obama Administration, but let’s be fair here.  All he has to do with this is having set the policy that will result in the terrorist being tried in a civilian court.  The real culprit is time; with no new attacks in over eight years, our security forces have gotten bored.  Bored people don’t pay close enough attention, and someone gets through with a bomb up their leg.

The result of this is probably going to be something silly and useless, like strip-searching random passengers.  Those charged with airline security will fell they have to do something to show they;re on top of this, and the best bureaucrats can typically come up with is to prevent what’s happened already, even though the terrorists know they can’t use that particular trick again.  What they really need to do is figure out a way to better flag “no-fly” folks and keep them out of airplanes.  Maybe that means rotating TSA folks through various tasks so they keep alert, or get better-quality people.  What the Dutch and Nigerians do is thier own business; if we’re responsible for anything it’s flights landing on US soil.

However, and I hate to sound fatalistic here, there is no effective defense against a determined terrorist.  There will in all probability be another successful attack on our soil, someplace, some time.  But, at the same time, there’s a way to keep damage to a minimum, and it was demonstrated by a Dutch passenger on the Delta flight from Nigeria by way of Amsterdam, and an unknown number of people over Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001.

Keep your eyes open and pay attention to what’s going on around you.  Ultimately, you are the person best qualified and most able to provide for your own security.


Written by Jeffrey S. Smith

28 December 2009 at 9:14 am

Posted in Events

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. Was this a functional bomb, or a tinker toy wanna be to look scary enough? I agree if they wanted to set off a bomb it would have been done. I put this in the psycho fear file. I’m sure they do testing all the time to see what gets through. And I’m also surprised something hasn’t gotten through in checked baggage, I mean with new fangle ceramics and plastics, I’m sure there are ways to fool the x-rays.

    We forget that THEY are running a battle for our hearts and minds as well, using our well intentioned American upbringing to take advantage of our bleeding hearts. Smart puppies they are!

    I hope someone got in a good punch 😀 A little Dirty Harry always helps in these things. (yay Bush, 7 years of no domestic attacks, thank you)


    28 December 2009 at 10:14 am

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