Janet Napolitano’s Latest Move to Weaken Aviation Security

by GREGORY D. LEE April 5, 2010
On Good Friday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration has revamped emergency measures following the attempted Christmas Day downing of a Detroit-bound flight. Since January 3rd, all passengers from 14 mostly Muslim countries, flying to the United States, receive additional screening before boarding an airplane. Now that policy is being replaced with a new scheme the DHS web site says will “strengthen” airline security.
In reality, it will weaken our ability to screen out terrorists before they attempt to travel to the United States.
The secretary said in a press release: “These new measures utilize real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats.” In other words, “threat-based intelligence” is replacing searching all passengers from Muslim countries. Why not do both? Does that sound like an enhancement of airline security?
What about suicide bombers that terrorists have recruited, but about whom we don’t have any intelligence?
As it is, these people are only subject to “random layers” of security, as opposed to systematic security scrutiny. I am certain intelligence-sharing among the many federal agencies has not improved to the point of justifying such a change of policy. DHS should admit that TSA and international airport screeners are not mind-readers, and all passengers traveling to the U.S. must be scrutinized every time, not randomly. With the new policy, travelers from these 14 terrorist havens will no longer be singled out for full scrutiny. This is precisely why terrorists have been recruiting people without any previously known ties to terrorist organizations.
This policy is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic after it hit the iceberg. The Obama administration will never do what needs to be done. Profiling passengers is the most effective way of screening passengers. Political correctness still dominates airport screening worldwide. The Nigerian with the bomb in his underpants purchased a ticket with cash and had no checked-in luggage. If he had been profiled, this would have immediately raised red flags.
Muslim males, from their early 20s to 40s, have committed every airline terrorist hijacking and other attacks in the past 40 years. Recently, two young Muslim female suicide bombers struck the Moscow subway, killing 40 people. Yet TSA singles out uniformed U.S. soldiers, mothers with babies, old men and women for secondary inspection.
Based on “intelligence,” the government placed the Nigerian national on its terrorist watch list, but neglected to put him on the “no fly” list. How can this be? Every name on the terrorist watch list needs to be added to the “no fly” list. Not everyone on the “no fly” list is a terrorist, but every known or suspected terrorist should never be allowed to fly. Further, why would we want someone on the terrorism watch list to travel to this country in the first place, other than to arrest him upon his arrival? Absent that, keep him off all domestic and international airplanes.
DHS also needs to employ screeners that have passed an extensive background investigation and have IQs above a trained monkey. Once I witnessed a shift change of screeners and, to my astonishment, the old shift physically searched their replacements for weapons before they went on duty. This does not instill a lot of confidence in minds of the traveling public. We can’t trust TSA screeners to not bring concealed weapons inside an airport that can be used to hijack an airplane?
Other simple, low- or no-cost measures to improve airline security include allowing both on- and off-duty police officers, federal agents, including retirees, to carry a firearm on aircraft as passengers. Encourage airline pilots to carry firearms in the cockpit as a last resort to defend their aircrafts from hijackers taking control of the airplane.
The Obama administration needs to find someone competent to run TSA. The last two nominees carried baggage and withdrew. It seems the administration is more concerned with the nominee’s skin color and political leanings than his ability to perform the job.
Eliminating political correctness and using common sense in screening passengers will work the moment it is used.
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Gregory D. Lee is a retired DEA Supervisory Special Agent. He writes a weekly syndicated column for North Star National and can be reached through his website: http://www.gregorydlee.com/.

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