December 29, 2009

President Obama's options for airline security

Posted: 05:57 PM ET

Via Politico


President Barack Obama has promised to tighten up aviation security in the wake of last week’s frightening attempt to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight as it approached Detroit, but experts say nearly all the steps Obama is likely to consider come with tradeoffs that have scared off other policymakers in the past.

Obama said he’s ordered a review of the terrorist watch list system to determine why a warning the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria received from the father of alleged bomber Omar Abdulmutallab didn’t result in Abdulmutallab being barred from flying to the U.S. or given extra security screening. The president also said he’s asked his subordinates to look at why existing screening didn’t detect the plastic explosives he managed to bring on board the plane — allegedly by concealing them in boxer shorts crafted by Al Qaeda bomb-makers.

Some things likely to be quickly addressed are specific to last Friday’s attack. They include giving more weight to complaints from family members that a relative has become radicalized and may engage in terrorism. "The Saudis will tell you that’s some of the most important and reliable information you can get,” said Fran Townsend, homeland security coordinator under President George W. Bush.

There are other obvious loopholes to be closed. Officials say they’re considering an automatic review of outstanding visas for people entered into the broad U.S. terrorism database. And perhaps greater information-sharing with allies such as Britain, which, unbeknownst to the U.S., refused to grant Abdulmutallab a new student visa after he allegedly provided the name of a nonexistent school.

But broader policy changes have greater ramifications — tradeoffs that the Bush administration was well aware of. And while increasing security may seem like a political no-brainer, some frequent travelers have become so incensed at what they call “security theater” that they are recoiling at steps already taken, such as banning the use of blankets and personal items in the last hour of some flights.


Filed under: Airline Industry • Politics • President Obama • Terrorism

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A. Smith, Oregon   December 29th, 2009 6:50 pm ET

Larry King, two creditable witness's on the same flight that was attacked by the Nigerian bomber have stated a well dressed man of Indian decent accompanied that man and spoke for that man at the Amsterdam International Security Gate. They stated the man described by them as of Indian decent told the security guards the Nigerian bomber had no passport and somehow got the Nigerian bomber on his flight to America.

Why isn't that well dressed man of Indian decent NOT on America's most wanted fugitive list?

Why isn't that mans photo taken at Amsterdam's Security gate being released to the public?

That man should be on the FBI Most Wanted list, he obviously didn't take the flight himself which certainly suggests he knew the man he was helping had a bomb.

Something is very wrong here Larry, American's should demand that man be apprehended and for the security photos of him to be released to the public.

Bruce Ross   December 29th, 2009 10:26 pm ET

I have not heard this question come up since the beginning of this and would like to know why his name was not put on the terrorist watch list the moment London put him on theirs? It seems this is a no-brainer.

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