Sunday, December 27

Quick Thoughts on the Bombing of the Northwest Airlines Passenger Jet to Detroit

As we are just about a week away from flying back home, the bombing of the Northwest Airlines flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit has come up for discussion a couple of times with family over here.

For starters, a couple trips back while I was flying to Finland, the shoe-bomber was busy trying to blow up another plane flying over the Atlantic going in the opposit direction. It was so great to get into our apartment once over here to turn on the TV to see news of his arrest in the US.

Then there is the long-standing irritation of being on one of Homeland Security's watch lists. I found this out in 2005 when one of my co-workers was able to check in online but I could not. At the desk she joked that I was on the no-fly list when the clerk behind the counter looked up (as he was holding on the phone to verify me with my passport data) and stated that I was. I have gone through years of these kinds of delays, almost missing a flight out of Hamburg because they had to send me clear across the airport to a special desk where I needed to get my boarding pass. That was one of a number of incidences where I could get my first boarding pass but could not get a second one for the connecting flight to the US. I have even flown out of Amsterdam Airport, where in addition to problems checking in, someone also thought it best to remove my shaving cream and deodorant from my checked bag.
It did not make sense at the time, but with the news of terror arrests in the UK related to a plot to bomb airplanes over the Atlantic, I now understand why my bag was searched on July 1st.

I spent a week in Amsterdam for a conference. As is normal, when I checked in, KLM had to clear me for the flight because either I or a person with my name is on a no-fly watchlist. This has been going on for years and I am familiar with how each airline deals with it.

When I arrived at JFK, I noticed that the plastic ties I use to close the zippers were removed from two of the pockets. Missing was my deodorant and my shaving cream can.

I can understand confiscating these items from my carry on bag, but they took them out of my checked in bag. - 10 Aug 2006
Normally I am a pretty easy-going person, but the problems at the airports were really getting under my skin. Being forced to use the automatic check-in kiosks by line staff despite telling them that I know I needed to check in in-person. Then having to stand there as they help me a second time assuming that I did something wrong.

This is all the worse for me since I know of no reason why the US, or any Government, would consider me a threat. I have generally assumed that they are searching for another person with a similar name and that they are just flagging all persons with similar names. And I would think that they would know enough about me given that I am an ex Naval Reserve Officer.

Lately, I thought the issue had resolved itself until one of BA's managers came up the isle just before flying out of the US for this Christmas trip. She came straight to my seat and asked: "Mr. Fry?" I responded that I was he and identified the three persons traveling with me as she requested. She then speaks into her radio: "He's onboard. You can load his bags." and then walked off the plane. As far as I could tell, I was the only one who got such special treatment. (The bags of course were first put through the secondary screening at check in.) So at least, I have seen what the US can do, if they are interested in watching what you are doing, both leaving the US and coming back. And they can easily prevent you from coming back if they want to.

So when I see the pure B.S. comments the person who the President put in charge our safety when traveling I get really pissed off:

Sorry, but political spin is not going to keep terrorists from downing planes. To enlighten a little further how much of a bullshit response Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's comments are, go watch her comments again and see that the very same statements are equally valid had the terrorist succeeded and destroyed the plan killing everyone on board.

This attack was a total failure of the security measures in place. Al-qaeda managed to bomb a US plane. They only failed in destroying it and that it seems might have been due to an issue not fully in their control, the failure of the bomb's detonator.

In order for the bomber to realize that his detonator was a dud, or that he forgot a very important step, he first needed to get a US visa, which apparently was granted in 2008. Get onboard the plane, given that his name would have been sent to the US in advance and his boarding approved by DHS. Then he needed to get through security with plastic explosives and a detonator stuffed down his pants. That came courtesy of the Amsterdam Airport security staff who were probably busy stealing used toiletries from checked bags.

Once on the plane, and despite being on some sort of watchlist, DHS also did not see the need to place a Sky Marshall near this guy or apparently anywhere on this plane. Once that plane took off, all the passengers were as good as dead. It was only luck and the quick action of a couple quick-thinking passenger/heroes that kept that plane from exploding as planned. Still, the terrorists will continue to refine their plan and it seems only a matter of time before they succeed. Is this going to convince the asshat in the video above from making smart moves to prevent this from happening? Clearly from her comments, no.

However, you and I and all travelers are going to get royally screwed with additional security measures because of this incident and because the US and other Governments are afraid to properly target the real threats.

Add to Google

No comments: