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Waste and abuse are key elements here. A Huffington Post report on the latest attempt by al-Qaida to get another underwear bomb aboard a jet included a rather revealing email from former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. Chertoff contended that it is “too soon to tell how technically advanced [the] new device is. Imaging will pick up anomalies below clothing but [the U.S. government] has to analyze [the] device before adjusting protocols.”
Why is that email revealing? Because in 2010, Chertoff’s consulting firm, the Chertoff Group, began representing OSI Systems, one of two companies licensed to sell full-body scanners to the TSA. OSI makes a machine called Rapiscan, 300 of which were sold to the TSA in wake of Christmas 2009 attempt to blow up a jet using an underwear bomb. Shortly after that attempt, Chertoff was lobbying for stronger airport screening procedures on ABC’s “World News Tonight,” “Fox and Friends,” CNBC’s “Squawk Box” and Bloomberg TV. He also wrote an editorial in the Washington Post one week after the incident contending that the Obama administration “must stand firm against privacy ideologues, for whom every security measure is unacceptable”–even as he failed to mention he was promoting the same technology he was getting paid to promote.
Thus, it is hardly a surprise that Mr. Chertoff wants more government analysis of existing procedures before protocols are “adjusted.”
The American public? Hardly a week goes by without another outrage foisted upon Americans by an over-bearing TSA. Fort Lauderdale, Florida was the location of the latest TSA absurdity. On Tuesday an 18-month old child was ordered off a Jet Blue flight because she was tagged as a “no fly” passenger. Such over-bearing nonsense is amplified by the revelation that the latest version of an underwear bomb confiscated by a CIA double-agent in Yemen “would not have been caught by the TSA’s most conscientious human screeners or its highest-tech fullbody scanners,” according to experts who relayed that information to the NY Post. “They would not have gotten him,” added a top law-enforcement official. Another official was equally blunt. “Frankly, the caliber of the screeners is not that good. It’s kind of hit or miss,” the source said. “The equipment is wonderful–but it isn’t bulletproof.”
Apparently Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano didn’t get the proverbial memo. “There is a high likelihood that [the bomb] would have been detected had he boarded a flight in the United States,” she contended, even as she failed to address the likelihood of detection on flights that originated abroad.
The only realistic alternative to the current technology? Bomb-sniffing dogs, say the experts. Yet they are currently considered impractical to use at large, crowded airports. Compared to what? Inefficient and expensive technology? TSA employees who steal, grope genitalia, or miss detecting bombs and other weapons slipped past security by government agents testing TSA efficiency–or those taken aboard planes by actual passengers?
The entire rationale behind airport security is to stay one step ahead of the terrorists. This report reveals that the TSA, with its one-two combination of inefficient technology and a workforces besieged by the inevitable torpor that attends federal bureaucracy, is two steps behind.
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