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December 29, 2009

Reports: Costs, privacy obstruct widespread use of screening systems

Posted: 03:26 PM ET

Via The Washington Post

By Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Spencer Hsu

Washington Post Staff Writer

When alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab casually boarded his flight for Detroit on Christmas Day, he unwittingly confirmed repeated warnings about the chronic, costly shortcomings of government efforts to create better systems to screen travelers for bombs, weapons and other threats.

The incident follows a long series of public and confidential government findings that the massive push for new high-technology systems - some of them promising almost science-fiction-like abilities to detect and communicate threats - often has fallen short, and that billions of dollars were being wasted on systems that do not work or are behind schedule.

In the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, federal officials pledged to use information technology to identify terrorists, while also creating new machines that would automatically detect explosives, sense whether passengers were lying, and scan other materials for threats.

The Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies have spent billions of dollars to develop security systems, including more than $795 million for research and development of high-tech checkpoint screening equipment.

But government watch lists failed to identify Abdulmutallab as a likely terrorist, even though his name was put in one of the most important government databases after his father had warned officials that he could be a threat. And none of the high-tech screening equipment under development by the Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate was used to screen him.

According to government reports, mismanagement of research, concerns about privacy, the high costs of installation and, in some cases, opposition from industry and Congress have hindered the widespread deployment of 10 systems at airports in the United States and abroad.

Read moreā€¦

Filed under: Terrorism


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Habeeb Salami   December 29th, 2009 3:53 pm ET

i am here to comment on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab,he has spoilt the image of innocent nigerians.....aand i lent president obama said ...he may go for 20yrs imprisonment or he should pay the fyn of 150 thousand dollars....i disagree with that...i will never allow him to gom for 20yrs nor $150 thousand....my opinion now is he MUST go 150yrs imprisonment......i am a nigerian...pls let president obama get this report ...dont collect any fine from him cus...if he did he will do more than that.....if u want to know me more better hit me up on my email id....GOD BLESS US


studenlawyer   December 29th, 2009 3:55 pm ET

Fighting these terrorists is a losing proposition. Six Terrorists can evoke a response by thousands of Military and Million$. There are two issues to solve. Netherlands negligent in allowing Terrorist onboard. Yemen might be guilty of supporting terrorists and be liable for all damages caused by their Terrorists. Try them in court and seize Yemen assets. if their cost is a lot; seize Yemen and deport all citizens and takeover the country. There must be a better deal than war on terrorism. it will bankrupt us, stall our economic recovery. stretch thin the military personnel and ruin the equipment-planes, tanks, etc.


A. Smith, Oregon   December 29th, 2009 5:01 pm ET

IF the latest Muslim butt-bomber did not have a passport, the ONLY WAY he got on that plane in Amsterdam was by a US Diplomat or a US Governmental Agent pushing him past the Amsterdam security staff and onto that plane which was DESCRIBED by two passengers on that same flight. Not even a flight steward would allow anyone on a international flight without a passport.

All these draconian torments further heaped upon American citizens wouldn't have prevented what appears to have actually occurred.

Americans should DEMAND the photos of that US Agent or US Diplomat taken at the Amsterdam International Gate be released.


Susan   December 29th, 2009 10:26 pm ET

If you don't want a body scan- don't fly. The rest of us would like to live and see our grandchildren one day. Who is concerned about a body scan? Really?


G. Sroka   December 29th, 2009 10:55 pm ET

If a suicidal terrorist swallows the explosive with a method of detonating it while still inside, is there any current technology to detect it before boarding the plane? By the time a new technology is in place, a method will be found to circumvent it.

Let's face it. There is no way to stop terrorism since in addition to planes there are hundreds of thousands of other potential targets in the U.S.
If a list of these targets were compiled with possible scenarios, the public would panic.

Is the current focus on the Detroit plane helpful, or is it creating the terror that the terrorists want?


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