The failed bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 by 23-year-old
Nigerian Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab has drawn wide agreement on
one thing: it was an attempted act of terrorism
. Reports on the details vary, but an ABC News story is drawing particularly wide attention. ABC's Brian Ross reports
that Abdulmutallab, formerly a college student in London, met with
al-Qaeda officials in Yemen, who provided him with explosives similar
to those used by 2001 "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. The attempt failed
due to the explosives failing and a quick reaction from fellow
passengers. But now, looking beyond this incident, what does it mean
for terrorism and security in the U.S.? What are our next steps?
- Emulate El Al's Airport Security Hot Air's Ed Morrissey looks
to the Israeli airline. "Once again, the reaction to a terrorist attack
has been to penalize
everyone else instead of getting serious about the actual threat. The
US should have started emulating El Al after 9/11, whose security
screening uses expert analysis and questioning, as well as heightened
scrutiny where it belongs." Morrissey dismisses TSA's approach -- "the
multiplying of regulations for everyone just means that terrorists will
get more creative" -- but praises El Al's strategy of questioning
- Ignore AQ's 'Desperate Bid for Relevance' Spencer Ackerman argues
that the incident proves "its inability to inspire the Muslim world to
rally under its banner." He notes that al-Qaeda has always used
multiple, redundant attackers before but that this one acted alone.
"The inescapable if preliminary conclusion: al-Qaeda can’t get enough dudes to join Abdulmutallab." He concludes, "[T]he most salient facts about this recent slew of attempted terrorist attacks is that they either failed outright or they didn’t kill many people.
Combine that, as I did in that piece, with the growth in capability of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement since 9/11 and we have… a manageable threat."
- Overhaul The 'No-Fly List' Larisa Alexandrovna laments
that the attacker wasn't on the "no-fly list," which she says has
become ineffective and politicized. "Experts have long warned that by
expanding the 'no-fly' list - which ballooned to over a million names under the Bush administration
- to include highly unlikely suspects (such as journalists, babies, US
Senators, etc.) undermines the very purpose of having such a list to
begin with. Perhaps if Jim Moore
could have been removed from the list (which Karl Rove is alleged to
have put him on to begin with) a slot would have been available for
- Don't Add Useless Security Layers James Joyner rolls his eyes.
"We’re simply going to make people miserable for no apparent reason.
There have been precisely three attempts over the last eight years to
commit acts of terrorism aboard commercial aircraft. All of them
clownishly inept and easily thwarted by the passengers. How many tens
of thousands of flights have been incident free? And, yet, we’re going
to make hundreds of thousands of people endure transcontinental flights
without reading materials or the ability to use the restroom?"
- Accept The Security Illusion The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder writes,
"In the U.S., we've chosen to emphasize the theatrical aspect of
security -- screening areas, air marshals, lots of beeping noises,
regular procedures, talk about 'random' searches and 'hidden'
procedures -- over perfect target hardening. That's reasonable, because
target hardening is beyond current technology, beyond current funding
levels, and beyond our tolerance for inconvenience." He asks, "if
secondary screening in Amsterdam and a validated watch list hit
can't keep someone from trying to blow up an airplane, what can?"
- Neither 'Panic' Nor 'Complaisance' Juan Cole evaluates. "The incident points to lax security at airports like Abuja and Lagos as
a problem for the international system. But it also underlines how
difficult it has become for terrorists successfully to attack passenger
airliners. Despite [Rep. Peter] King's characterization of Abd al-Mutallib's kit as
'sophisticated,' in fact the scheme strikes me as hare-brained and
likely doomed from the beginning. No cause for complaisance here, but
contrary to what rightwing politicians are saying, no cause for panic,
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