In the lead story in Human Events today, I discuss the abject failure of our national approach to counterterror:
The chief lesson of the attempted jihad attack on Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day is that our entire anti-terror strategy is a huge and abject failure. Of course, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would beg to differ, as she has said that the stopping of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempt to set off an explosive on the airplane showed that “the system worked” and “everything happened that should have.”
The “system worked”? So the “system” now involves hoping that other passengers will tackle the jihadist? After all, a passenger on Flight 253, Jasper Schuringa, subdued Abdulmutallab. The “system” now relies on all of the jihadis’ detonators failing, as did Abdulmutallab’s? Napolitano’s optimism was based on an appalling disconnect from reality that in saner times would result in her dismissal. Barack Obama, by contrast, would be more likely to issue her a commendation, if he weren’t too busy golfing and shooting hoops during his Hawaii vacation.
In contrast to Napolitano’s fantasies, Flight 253 revealed a massive failure not only of airline security procedures, but also of the larger strategy that America and the West has been pursuing against jihad terrorism.
As for airline security procedures, Abdulmutallab was able to get on the airplane without a passport, and with ingredients for an explosive that would have destroyed the plane and killed everyone in it. TSA officials are busy tightening security procedures with new Abdulmutallab-inspired rules such as forcing passengers to stay in their seats for the last hour of the flight, but these new measures will do nothing to prevent another attack. One thing we have seen over the years since 9/11 is that airport security is always one step behind the jihadists: after jihadist Richard Reid attempted to set off a bomb hidden in his shoes, we all have to take off our shoes and send them through security scanners. After a group of jihadists tried to sneak onto planes explosive chemicals hidden in drink bottles, we can’t carry drinks through airport security terminals. Because Abdulmutallab attempted his jihad attack just before the plane landed, now we can’t get up during the last hour of the flight. The one thing that the TSA should have learned, but hasn’t, is that next time the jihadists will do something else, not just repeat what they did before. And even if every passenger were given a full body cavity search, they will find some way to get around it. But attempt a new approach based on sensible profiling? The TSA would rather fold up shop altogether….