Preventing the Next Terrorist Attack – by Andrew Cline


Additional security measures reported in the aftermath of the Christmas bomber’s failed attempt to down a U.S. airline will amount to naught because they don’t address the central security failure.

Keeping international passengers in their seats for the last hour of a flight will do nothing but create wet seat cushions, as those who need “to go,” including children, are prohibited access to the toilet. Any terrorist who sneaks an explosive on a plane will simply detonate it mid-flight or after takeoff.  Limiting passengers to a single carry-on bag will have no effect.  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had only one carry-on, and apparently strapped the explosive device to his leg.

Will additional pat-downs work? Not if a terrorist hides the explosive in his underwear.

Measures that might have prevented Abdulmutallab from getting his explosive aboard Flight 253 – air puffers and swabs that detect traces of the explosive he reportedly used, and full-body scanning – take time and money to deploy and won’t be used on all passengers. If security officials are not screening the terrorists, these measures will fail, too.

And that’s the central issue. The security system failed to screen out the terrorist.

“We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable,”  President Obama said in his brief press conference from his vacation in Hawaii on Monday. “This was a serious reminder of the dangers that we face.”

That’s important, but it misses the point. The White House has announced a review of all security procedures. But based on what we already know, it is obvious that the United States effectively ignores, from an operational standpoint, the vast majority of intelligence it receives regarding terror suspects.

According to the administration, the government receives 18,000 tips a day. When Abdullmutallab’s father reported him to the U.S. embassy as a potential Muslim terrorist, it was treated as just another bit of “noise” in the system. It was just one of 18,000 bits received that day, the administration has said. And that is the problem.

Before 9/11, the government collected enough information on the plot to stop it, had anyone put the pieces together. “Connecting the dots” became a buzz phrase in the next year. We would not rest until we had the ability to do that. But in 2009 we still don’t, in part because we don’t have enough resources devoted to doing so.

A dedicated group of suicide bombers can beat even the beefed up security measures now being slowly put into place. For all of his flaws, President Bush understood that when dealing with terrorists, the best defense is a good offense. We shouldn’t be waiting until a terrorist gets to the airport. We should be going after them aggressively.

That means putting more resources into intelligence gathering and “connecting the dots” so we find them before they find us. Unfortunately, this president doesn’t seem interested in taking the war to the terrorists. He seems dedicated to the proposition that this is not a war at all, but a diplomatic problem first, a criminal justice problem second. That approach will work just as well as it did before 9/11.

Andrew Cline is editorial page editor of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

  • Robert Bernier

    Wow! Read this one. It is really good. And this gentleman says it just like it is.

    This venerable and much honored WW II vet is well known in Hawaii
    for his seventy-plus years of service to patriotic organizations and causes all over the country. A humble man without a political bone in his body, he has never spoken out before about a government official, until now. He dictated this letter to a friend, signed it and mailed it to the president. Consult :

  • Robert Bernier

    Every American should see this video !

    The ambition of Islam to conquer the world.
    For centuries Islam of the militants have been on the march to conquer the world. We did not notice because we chose not to notice. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in
    1920 by Hassan al-Banna in Egypt and was in deep confrontation with the Egyptian government. The current goals for Islam to achieve global domination for a Muslim Caliphate: a world under strict Islamic “Sharia” law, pulling Muslims back to the 7th Century. Consult :

  • thinker1

    We are thrown under a bus….”they” are pro-muslims…PROOF:
    Our general says about Fort Hood killings;
    ““Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse,” Casey said”. – better dead American than offended muslim????
    Our presssidento says:

  • tlwinslow

    The U.S. needs to do ideological profiling on all Muslims boarding flights. Islam isn't a race it's an ideology, and while it would be nice to expel all Muslims from the U.S., the fact is that they're mainly pro-Western secular Muslims, and only a tiny number currently are radicalized into the 7th cent. mindset that terrorized the West for 1,000 years until their military threat was ended in 1683. As only 1%-2% of the pop., the govt.'s security measures should be directed at them, not the rest of us. And for foreign Muslims trying to enter the U.S., all of them should be specially screened. Israel does it right, why can't the U.S.?

    Study the 7th cent. mindset of Islam to get a clue free online with the Historyscoper at

  • LindaRivera

    When Napolitano said the system worked, I think what she meant (without actually saying it) was that the system worked for the Muslim terrorists.

    America is Betrayed: Jihadists are winning because of pro-Islam Western leaders. U.S. Airport Security is Deliberately and Shockingly Destroyed for Islam:
    Controversial Muslim group
    gets VIP airport security tour
    Feds show CAIR latest screening steps,
    sensitive counterterrorism procedures
    August 18, 2006

    The Department of Homeland Security
    took a Muslim group with known past ties to terror organizations on a VIP tour of security operations at the nation’s busiest airport at the same time British authorities were working to break up a plot to blow up U.S. airlines.

    On June 21, a senior DHS official from Washington personally guided Muslim officials from the Council on American-Islamic Relations on a behind-the-scenes tour of Customs screening operations at O’Hare International Airport in response to CAIR complaints that Muslim travelers were being unfairly delayed as they entered the U.S. from abroad.

    CAIR is a spin-off of the Islamic Association for Palestine, identified by two former FBI counterterrorism chiefs as a “front group” for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

    Several CAIR leaders have been convicted on terror-related charges.

    During the airport tour, CAIR was taken on a walk through the point-of-entry, Customs stations, secondary screening and interview rooms. In addition, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents were asked to describe for CAIR representatives various features of the high-risk passenger lookout system.

    Council on American-Islamic Relations: “Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” – Omar Ahmad (CAIR co-founder).

    Addressing a youth session at the 1999 Islamic Association for Palestine’s annual convention in Chicago, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) founder Omar Ahmad praised suicide bombers who “kill themselves for Islam,”

  • LindaRivera

    Why was the humanity-hater not placed on a U.S. No Fly List? That’s not hard to figure out. Washington do not regard Muslim terrorists as the enemy. Patriotic, peaceful Americans – pro-lifers, tea party attendees, returning war veterans who risked their lives for America have been listed as the ones to watch out for.

    Muslim terrorist training camps that teach murder of non-Muslims and violent Islamic conquest of America are allowed. God help America.
    ‘Chilling’ new video: How to slit throats
    Jihad maneuvers taught at New York compound
    December 15, 2009

    By Bob Unruh
    © 2009 WorldNetDaily

    A new video released by the Christian Action Network shows Muslim women at a compound in New York state practicing throat-slitting techniques and assault weapons attacks.

    The video was distributed by the makers of the movie “Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around the U.S.,” which documents how a jihadist group has developed dozens of training camps across the nation.

    WND reported at the time how Jamaat ul-Fuqra has built 35 compounds – mostly in the northeastern corridor of the U.S.

    …The U.S. State Department’s 1998 “Patterns of Global Terrorism” report notes the organization “seeks to purify Islam through violence.”

    The report continued, “Members have purchased isolated rural compounds in North America to live communally, practice their faith and insulate themselves from Western culture. Fuqra members have attacked a variety of targets that they view as enemies of Islam.”

    CAN, led by Martin Mawyer, has researched Muslims of America for years and has provided its video to the FBI, State Department and Homeland Security. To date, there has been no response from the government, the group said.

    …”Gilani has stated he is preparing his members to the Soldiers of Allah, and he’s set up the most advanced guerrilla warfare training camps,” he said.

    The organization’s “Homegrown Jihad” video includes a chilling scene of Jamaat ul-Fuqra’s leader Sheikh Mubarak Gilani telling followers to “act like you’re his friend. Then kill him.”

    According to the Religion of Peace website, there have been more than 250 jihad attacks by Muslims around the globe – including two inside the U.S. – in just the last two months.The death toll from the attacks has surpassed 1,400, the report says.

    New MOA Terror Training Video Exposed

  • Firepig

    After 18 trips to Israel, I have first hand experience with an airline security system that works.

    In my opinion, the TSA has much to learn.