Stopping the Next “Underwear Bomber” – by Alan M. Dershowitz


My dire New Year prediction is that Islamic terrorists may well succeed this year in blowing up a civilian airliner. They have already twice proved that suicide bombers can get through security. And those are only the successful security bypasses that we know about. Who knows how many other potential terrorists, who have been tasked to test our system, have made it through?

For all we know, the Christmas Day “failure” was also a test, at least in part—a test that included the potential for catastrophic success, but a test designed to probe weaknesses in our airline security system. Only ten days later, another person got past security at Newark Airport and was never found. Who knows how many other people have simply managed to walk around the metal detectors or through the security exit. I myself saw a man run passed security at Newark Airport several years ago. When I notified security, their response was to search my briefcase and nearly make me miss my flight. There was no search for the security evader and no shutdown of the concourse.

Airport security in many parts of the world is a cruel joke. Worse, it is an invitation to terrorism. In many international airports, security is no better than in the least secure country from which any flyer begins his flight. Once in the secure area of some airports, there are no further checks when boarding a second flight. There must be security checks at every gate, not merely at the entrance to the general boarding area. Otherwise, passengers whose flights begin at low security airports can board planes without going through reasonable security.

Nor have we learned enough from the near successes of the shoe and underwear bombers. In both cases, we should have acted as if they had succeeded. That they did not had absolutely nothing to do with our security, but rather with a factor over which the would-be terrorists had complete control, namely improving the effectiveness of their explosive triggers. Imagine what the reaction would have been if hundreds of Detroit-bound passengers had been murdered. That is what the reaction should now be to this near-catastrophe.

We must adopt a multi-tiered approach to airline security. Frequent flyers who pose no security threat should be eligible for a non-transferable telemetric security card that is keyed into their retina for near foolproof identification. They could quickly pass through metal and explosives detection. Other fliers can opt for increased security or increased privacy. Those who opt for increased security would be subjected to intrusive scanning, without a metal box protecting their private parts. After all, it was the private parts that were the location of the most recent explosives. If you are too prudish to have your private parts scanned, then opt for privacy. In that case, you have to come to airport three hours early and be subjected to a thorough external pat down and a lengthy sit-down interview.

The time has come to take airline security seriously. We must also upgrade security in railroad and bus terminals, but Al Qaeda’s obsession with airlines should influence our priorities. Those civil libertarians who claim that increasing security will not work are simply lying. It will work, though not perfectly, and it will also diminish privacy and civil liberties, though not significantly. Life is composed of tradeoffs. Those civil libertarians who deny that there are tradeoffs are serving neither the interests of civil liberties nor of truth. Among the most important civil liberty is our ability to travel without excessive fear of terrorism, and without excessive intrusion into our privacy.

We must increase the quality and training of the security personnel at the airports. It should become a job for retired and experienced law enforcement officials. It should pay well and it should be subject to rigorous testing. Security “testers” should be using every available tactic to try to evade security. Those in charge of protecting us should be graded by their ability to spot terrorist threats.

There must be more searching interviews of travelers who do not opt for the security card or the scanning. There is nothing wrong with profiling, so long as it does not lump together all members of a particular race, religion or ethnicity. Profiling, based on a wide variety of characteristics that are directly associated with the risk of terrorism, is a good thing. So is “negative profiling”—that is, excluding certain categories of travelers from super-scrutiny based on their obvious non-involvement in terrorism.

Finally, we must have air marshals on every flight. This will be expensive, but nobody ever said that safe travel coupled with reasonable privacy would be cheap. We will implement all of these proposals—and more intrusive ones—as soon as the first plane is blown out of the sky and hundreds of innocent travelers are murdered. Why not do it now, before a preventable tragedy occurs?

  • wildjew

    The Qur'an says something to the effect, the earth belongs to Allah; he gives it to those of his servants who please him or whom he chooses. If the Muslims are the best of all peoples, isn't it logical for a devout Muslim to conclude Allah gives him the entire earth? But I agree with you, God created and set border; He divided the earth into tribes, nations, etc.

    What of the view that wherever Islam conquered and ruled territory, it forever belongs to Islam.

    Hamas charter says, Palestine is an Islamic waqf or endowment. No Muslim has the right to relinquish it and yet the Torah and the Qur'an say the land of Israel was given to the sons of Israel. Who is right?

    You are correct, by today's standards, what God commanded Moses and Joshua would be considered genocide I suspect. God described these peoples as particularly wicked in their behavior. It seems to me, it does matter the reason for war.

    I know and have known unbelievers (atheists) who are generally decent human beings. Belief is not unimportant in the Bible but actions are all-important. Why is belief and unbelief so important to Allah in the Qur'an?

    It's the same way in Christianity. In the NT, people are judged according to their belief or unbelief in Jesus. Unbelievers suffer eternal damnation.

  • Shoshanna

    While I agree that security needs to be drastically improved, it need be neither intrusive nor time-consuming– it simply needs to be competent.

    Over the holidays my fiance, a New England-based physicist, flew out to join me at my home on the Oregon coast. Rather an “absent-minded professor” type, he pays little attention to what he leaves in the pockets of his jacket, and so we were both shocked– and more than a little horrified– to discover upon his arrival that he was still carrying the razor knife he'd used in the process of packaging some gifts he'd FedExed to me. It wasn't hidden, or concealed in any way– it was just left lying in an exterior pocket of a leather jacket– and it went completely undetected on a series of flights which took him that day from Connecticut through Washington D.C., Chicago, and Los Angeles before he landed safely that evening at a tiny airport near the California/Oregon border.

    Fortunately, this is a man who abhors violence and would never do– or even wish– anyone any harm. But the questions remain: How did a razor knife make it onto four flights with him as he traveled across the country? And what excuse is there for it having been missed by the metal detectors, the x-ray machines, and the security people who are supposed to be paying attention?

    In the wake of the fortunately-botched “Fruit-Of-Kaboom” bomber we are now told that we'll have to undergo further intrusiveness by the TSA in the form of full body scanning, yet no one with the slightest degree of common sense believes that this will make anyone more secure– it will simply provide our government officials with the ability to claim that they're “taking action”, and give the overbearing and appallingly incompetent TSAs still further proof that excelling as elementary school bullies provided them with the perfect preparation for careers in state security.

    The unfortunate truth is that we will remain appallingly vulnerable to terrorists while at the same time continuing to see and experience the progressive erosion of our rights and liberties– and this will never stop as long as we have a government headed by those lacking both the collective and individual stones to step up to the plate and begin aggressively profiling those individuals who are most likely to actually be terrorists.

    Israel has been profiling for years, and it works. I might also add that my experiences with El Al security throughout the world and at Ben Gurion airport have invariably been very thorough, but also professional, well-mannered, and efficient. Unlike the TSA, Israel does not see fit to hire for its primary airline defense a group of brutish, dishonest, 8th-grade dropouts who will steal anything that isn't nailed down and whose day is made complete by the opportunity to routinely and horrifically abuse the power so mistakenly entrusted to them.

    Our government should take a lesson. But it won't.

    Instead, in the endless worship of political correctness and the new Holy Grail, “fairness”, it will continue to frighten 4-year-olds, harass little old ladies, and of course skitter away from asking too many questions of anyone whose name, appearance, or behavior would actually suggest the advisability of a second look.

    For anyone interested in reading how swift and effective security is achieved by those who actually know what they're doing, the following article on the “Israelification” of airports should prove an eye-opener:

  • LindaRivera

    Instead of our leaders showing grief and asking forgiveness for our military murdered at Fort Hood (it was known for quite some time that the Muslim killer was a significant terrorist threat), the government let us know that their BIGGEST concern was that there might be a back lash against Muslims.

    It is quite evident that the Administration are more concerned about securing the safety of Muslim terrorists than they are in protecting innocents. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but almost ALL terrorists are Muslims. As one person commented: Discriminate or DIE. It appears Obama and our government prefer that we die.

  • kafir4life

    Nice to see Crab Nutters Mikey, the islamo-slime back! He got spooked on JW by a fellow follower of islam named yom who taught him a bit about islam. For those not familiar with Crabnuts, he has an internet verified IQ of 150, his “wife” has a Doctorate from same the internet! He copy pastes from old posts (search FP Archives to see the original drivel) trying to convince kafir like us of something that islam is not. He never, ever will try to teach muslims that islam is an RoP ™, altho' he's had many oppertunities. Recent events here in the US have given him even more local terrorists to convince that they are wrong about islam. He won't. He can't. So he spends his time here…..feeling superior……but a sad little fellow really…..pedophile follower and all……he's to be pitied…..and prayed for.


  • kafir4life

    crabnutter mikey's been on FP before…..The copy paste function on his 'puter works PERFECTLY!! Must be an islam based OS.

  • LindaRivera

    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,”

    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.

    ’“One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.”
    —Former Algerian President Houari Boumedienne’s prophetic warning to Europe in a speech at the U.N. In 1974.

    In Sweden, many Muslim youth wear a t-shirt proclaiming: “2030-then we take over”

  • LindaRivera

    Why does Mr. Dershowitz support this? Why does Mr. Dershowitz call people who are strong believers in human rights and against racism, extremists???

    The filthy MURDEROUS peace that US/EU/UN/UK seek for Israel's Jews:
    In 1980 PLO Chairman Arafat stated: “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel . We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations.”

    The PLO Charter calls for the destruction of Israel.

    On the same day Oslo “Peace” Accords were signed in 1993, PLO leader, Arafat stated: “Since we cannot defeat Israel in war we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes, we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.”

    The Arab League's Charter states its goal is to eradicate the Zionist entity.

    US/EU/UN ruthless ideology that demands the vicious religious cleansing of Jewish innocents for not being Muslim MUST stop! The 1976 International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, prohibits all forms of discrimination against people on the basis of religion and nationality. Where are the international human rights organizations? Where are the lawyers?

    Every Israeli Land surrender results in vastly increased Islamic terror and war! The murderous peace process: Land for War! As a result of Israeli land surrenders, every Israeli is under missile threat from either Hizbullah or Hamas, or both.

  • LindaRivera

    JIHAD Against Americans is UNOPPOSED by Washington

    Muslim terrorist training camps that teach murder of non-Muslims and violent Islamic conquest of America are allowed. They are not considered the enemy. Homeland security informed America who are regarded as the enemy: peaceful, patriotic Americans – pro lifers, tea party attendees, returning war veterans who risked their lives for America. God help America.
    'Chilling' new video: How to slit throats
    Jihad maneuvers taught at New York compound
    December 15, 2009

    By Bob Unruh

    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

  • wildjew

    You are wholly ill-informed. Psalm 36 is Psalm of David. Psalm 36, verse 3 says: "Dwell in the land (eretz) and cultivate faithfulness…." Verse 11 says: "But the humble will inherit the land (Hebrew: eretz; as in eretz Israel)." The humble will inherit the land of Israel. Like I said, you are ill-informed. The "earth" is in the NT unless you are reading a faulty translation of the Hebrew Bible. Little doubt you are.

    • Milly

      Your articles are for when it absolutely, posiivtley, needs to be understood overnight.

    • ttgnlc

      htdjCK ggeginjkjuio

  • SpiritOf1683

    He got spooked on JW by a fellow follower of islam named yom who taught him a bit about islam. For those not familiar with Crabnuts, he has an internet verified IQ of 150, his “wife” has a Doctorate from same the internet!

    Remember, the Koran does permit lying.

  • SpiritOf1683

    And we have given hundreds of billions to Muslim spongers who show their 'thanks' for all the aid we've given them by carrying out atrocities like 9/11. You are an endorser of terrorist atrocities against infidels because you're a typical hateful, bigotred, racist and barbaric Muslim.

  • SpiritOf1683

    You're just another lying Muslim barbarian troll who hates infidels and regards them as lowlifes. Time scum like you and your vile racist bigoted and sick in the head ilk were thrown out of the West and into the Arabian desert where you belong.

  • bushlikesdick12

    Psalm 37:11 and the Meek shall inherit the earth — right out or your King's mouth Jew boy!

    I guess you don't want to missinterpret that for us do you?

  • wildjew

    Why are Nazis allowed on this forum?

  • bushlikesdick12

    Yes, Ad Homien
    anser to the question fits the personification of someone who crys Nazi or anti Semite whenever a Jew is caught being a hypocrit.

  • wildjew

    I meant to write, Psalm 37.

  • Donna

    Some of the money in the stimulus bill and the money being spent on ruining our health care system could be spent on increased training for security agents and air marshals on flights. If democrats who support Obama would make it clear this is a priority, instead of blindly supporting his ridiculous programs, we could all be safer.

    Until the Obama supporters wake up, we are all in danger. Thanks alot to those who elected this imbecile and continue to support him. Perhaps when one of your loved ones is a victim of a suicide bomber you will wake up. But I doubt it. Committed democrats are the most stubborn and blind people in the world. And the rest of us must suffer.

  • Abdullah_Mikail

    Somebody who only reads newspapers and at best books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely near-sighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous. There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind. We owe it to a few writers of antiquity (Plato, Aristotle, etc.) that the people in the Middle Ages could slowly extricate themselves from the superstitions and ignorance that had darkened life for more than half a millennium. Nothing is more needed to overcome the modernist's snobbishness. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

  • SpiritOf1683

    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).

    Remember that statement, for Abdullard is a spokesman for CAIR.

  • bushlikesdick12

    Land and earth mean the same thing in Hebrew. Unlike English, the Hebrew language doesn’t differentiate the meaning of the word but rather is used in the context of the use. We all know what King David meant so don’t try to speak for him.
    Your claim that my interpretation is false validates the Muslim’s claim that the Torah (Bible) is tainted and therefore doesn’t speak the truth due to the wide variety of interpretations and the fact that you can construe one over the other as to be false — so we really don’t know for sure who is right and who is wrong – maybe the original is wrong also or should we even believe there is an original interpretation. Maybe the person that wrote it in Hebrew had an agenda at the time and took King David out of context. Not that I agree with either one of you but could care less what your Holy Shit says or how it can be interpreted — that is just your mere f*cking excuse for inciting civil unrest in the M.E. region for your peoples own personal gain. I have a Bible at a different residence of mine that interprets Biblical text from Hebrew and explicitly explains the meaning of specific words of concern. You don’t own the interpretation of land and neither do you own the interpretation of anti-Semite like Horowitz wants to believe. You own sh*t so go take your f*cked up idea and interpretations and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

    Americans in general are tired of being caught in the middle of your senseless wars and it is time that we put an end to it. More sooner than later, the majority or Americans are going to find the lack of substance in this continuation of standing by Israel for the literal interpretation of the Bible ( awe but you pointed out that my Bible doesn’t even matter so why should I care about the Jews interpretation or their priorities as well?)

    We now live in the information age now Jew boy and you have an uphill battle from here on with your distortion of semantics.

  • GJTryon

    Alan alerts the guards to a security breach and they detain HIM! Enough said.

  • Nancy

    Guns and the Christian God as in one nation, one god undermines USA — Are blogs enablers of this sort of insurrection…?
    What about the increasing threat inside our borders from from the far rightwing religious who claim our nation is Christian and that it is their god-given right to carry guns and to overthrow the government that they see as illegit. A million or more of them are threats of domestic terror. This is all promoted by the propaganda of corporate groups like the NRA, they sell guns. They own Congress. They influence the Court. They pay bloggers/posters and moderators have conflict-of-interest on HuffPost and other blogs to undermine our nation, our Constitution, our freedom from religion, and ultimately our national liberty. Guerilla political warfare is thriving …. You'll find Mao on their website: RKBA, for instance. Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Right out in the open.

  • watch superbowl XLIV streaming

    I just wanted to drop you a line and let you know that I really have enjoyed your well-written articles. I have bookmarked this site and will definitely be checking back for new posts.

  • Michal Ohler

    Go Saints! Become a fan of facebook page here: Colts Will Lose Super Bowl 2010!