Archive for Airline Safety

Spiking the Nuclear Football

While President Obama was taking his victory lap a year after SEAL Team 6 greased OBL, declaring Al Qaeda as defunct as Gimbels, Al Qaeda begged to differ:

He could have breezed through security at any airport.

A terrorist wearing the latest underwear bomb would not have been caught by the TSA’s most conscientious human screeners or its highest-tech fullbody scanners, experts told The Post yesterday. But the country ducked a disaster by employing an age-old weapon: a double agent.

With the help of American allies in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the secret agent inserted himself into the terrorists’ secret inner circle, and became so trusted, the thugs accepted his offer to board a US-bound plane wearing the bomb.

Instead, the agent turned it over to the United States.

But experts said that as far as future suicide bomb attempts are concerned, current technology is not good enough to find nonmetallic explosive devices like the newest underwear bomb — despite Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s assurance that there was a “high likelihood’’ the bomber would have been stopped.
One top law-enforcement official insisted, “They would not have gotten him.”

This is one of those occasions when US security can proclaim a victory. Usually, it’s only the failures that make the news.

Which makes you wonder:

Federal investigators are conducting a probe into who leaked information about an al-Qaida plot in which an explosive device was to have been detonated on a U.S.-bound airline flight, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity about the leak investigation, which is just getting under way.

An anonymous official leaked information about a leak investigation? Typical.

The federal investigation is the latest move in an aggressive campaign by the Obama administration to crack down on leaks, even as it has supported proposed legislation that would shield reporters from having to identify their sources. The administration has already brought at least six criminal cases against people for discussing government secrets with reporters, more than under any previous presidency.

A spokesman for the AP, Paul Colford, said in a statement that the news organization “acted carefully and with extreme deliberation in its reporting on the underwear bomb plot and its subsequent decision to publish.”

“As the AP has reported, we distributed our exclusive report on the underwear bomb only after officials assured us — on Monday — that their security concerns had been satisfied and we learned that the White House would announce the news the next day,” Colford said.

I’ve got an angle for the FBI to investigate. Given Team Obama’s penchant for boasting (you would have thought Obama himself had caught Osama, with nothing but a lariat and a Swiss Army knife), maybe they leaked the news. They announced it publicly the next day anyway, and it was a national security victory—but as was also true of the OBL raid, premature jubilation can be an embarrassing problem.

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Is That a Colostomy Bag, or are You Just Glad to See Me?

I’m pi**ed-off it took so long, and I’m disappointed that a liberal weenie like Schumer is the initiator (rather than someone of a more libertarian bent), but most of what I have to say can be summed up thusly: FINALLY

Two New York politicians urged the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday to provide passenger advocates on site at airport screenings after four elderly women complained of intrusive searches by security agents in recent months.

Senator Charles Schumer and State Senator Michael Gianaris told Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano and TSA Administrator John Pistole in a letter that an on-site passenger advocate would help strike the right balance between security and protecting vulnerable travelers.

“I appreciate the TSA’s work to keep air passengers safe, but passengers should not be humiliated and degraded during their travels,” Gianaris said in a statement accompanying the letter.

The call came after several elderly women came forward in the busy travel weeks around Thanksgiving to complain they were “strip searched by TSA agents”, including three at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, the letter said.

On Sunday, the TSA denied on its blog that the women had been strip searched.

“TSA does not and has never conducted strip searches, and no strip searches occurred in any of these incidents,” the official statement posted by TSA blogger Bob Burns said.

Asking a government agency to be the guarantor of civil liberties is like asking a fox to police a chicken coop. If these abuses (and so, so many others) had happened under Bush, there would be calls for impeachment. And, in general, I think the solution to government intrusion is less government, not more.

But in absence of common sense or human intelligence, I guess an advocate will have to do.

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Heckuva Job, Bambi

Obama has clearly failed in his effort to bring us together—as the Occupy Movement and the Tea Party clearly show. But he’s united the world in utter contempt for his clueless leadership.

See, Israel? You’re not alone:

Weapons smuggled from Libya after the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s government are flowing through the surrounding region, the president of neighboring Niger said, a development that threatens to destabilize a swath of the continent already struggling against ethnic unrest and a regional branch of Al Qaeda.

“Arms were stolen in Libya and are being disseminated all over the region,” Niger’s president Mahamadou Issoufou said following a meeting with South African president Jacob Zuma. “Saharan countries are facing terrorist threats, arms and criminal trafficking. The Libya crisis is amplifying those crises.”

Issoufou’s remarks came days after Niger’s military clashed with arms smugglers traveling from Libya. Six smugglers and one soldier died in Sunday’s battle, he said.

Niger’s foreign minister Mohamed Bazoum said the battle was the fourth such incident since February, the beginning of the uprising in Libya that resulted in Qaddafi’s overthrow and the widespread looting of his vast armories.

We noted the story the other day that Israel is having to outfit all El Al flights with missile-avoidance technology, out of just such fears of Libyan arms reaching the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. We also mentioned then—and repeat now—the rank hypocrisy of the Liberal-Media Complex in decrying the looting of Iraqi antiquities after Shock & Awe (not by us, but by the very people we were trying to defeat), while remaining silent about this fiasco. Most or all of the antiquities were recovered; a Boeing 767 pierced by a SAM will be significantly more difficult.

What were you thinking, Obama?

PS: “Smart” people like to say that Al Qaeda has been degraded as a fighting force. This ought to help them recover, don’t you think?

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Hu-dini

A couple of choice nuggets from Mark Steyn’s weekly column:

“This plant indirectly supports hundreds of other jobs right here in Toledo,” Obama told the workers at Chrysler. “After all, without you, who’d eat at Chet’s or Inky’s or Rudy’s? Manufacturers from Michigan to Massachusetts are looking for new engineers to build advanced batteries for American-made electric cars. And obviously, Chet’s and Inky’s and Zinger’s, they’ll all have your business for some time to come.”

A couple of days later, Chet’s announced it was closing after nine decades. “It was the economy and the smoking ban that hurt us more than anything,” said the owner.

When historians look back at the fraud and hoax and mass hysteria that was the Obamenon, they will wonder how effing dumb any so-called advanced civilization could be. He was no magician, there was no sleight of hand. He just told us that the lady we saw lying dismembered on stage in a pool of her own blood was successfully sawed in half, and we believed him. It didn’t hurt that the media, in the personage of a fat, hairy-bellied, middle-aged bald guy, in fishnet stockings and a sequined leotard, mimed astonishment at the fetes of the Amazing Prezkin. Ta-da!

I will have more to say on historians in a later post, but back to Steyn:

Random example from the headlines: The paramilitarization of the education bureaucracy. The federal Department of Education doesn’t employ a single teacher but it does have a SWAT team: They kicked down a front door in Stockton, California last week and handcuffed Kenneth Wright (erroneously) in connection with a student-loan “investigation.” “We can confirm that we executed a search warrant,” said Department of Education spokesperson Gina Burress.

The Department of Education issues search warrants? Who knew? The Brokest Nation in History is the only country in the developed world whose education secretary has his own Delta Force.

A government bureaucracy with no reason to exist has quietly built itself a rapid deployment force for (erroneously) collecting on delinquent loans.

Do you hear me? Am I making myself clear? The Department of Education, an invention of Jimmy Carter, employs shock troops. When not collecting on bad debts, they are known to frisk young children for plastic forks and to wrestle peanut butter cookies to the ground.

And speaking of frisking:

A 24-year old woman has been awarded compensation of $2,350 after TSA agents exposed her breasts to all and sundry at the Corpus Christi Airport security line and provided Weineresque play-by-play commentary. “We regret that the passenger had an unpleasant experience,” said a TSA spokesgroper, also very Weinerly. But hey, those are a couple of cute bumps on the road, lady!

This happened months ago, but who can keep straight all the examples of inappropriate behavior and inexplicable selections for “enhanced techniques”?

Let’s refresh your mammary:

Murley, pictured above, charged in her lawsuit that she was “singled out for extended search procedures,” and that a TSA agent frisked her and “pulled Plaintiff’s blouse completely down, exposing Plaintiff’s breasts to everyone in the area.”

TSA employees, Murley added, “joked and laughed about the incident for an extended period of time.” After leaving the security line to be “consoled by an acquaintance who had brought her to the airport,” Murley returned to the line, where a male TSA worker said that he had wished he was there when she first passed through. The employee, Murley recalled, added that “he would just have to watch the video.” The incident left Murley “extremely embarrassed and humiliated,” according to her complaint.

If you’re wondering why she got only $2,350, it’s because that’s all they thought the government was good for. A bigger check would have bounced.

If you’re wondering why the abject humiliation of a young woman by irresponsible and unaccountable louts in uniform has stirred barely a whisper of outrage (poor ACLU, stricken with palsy), take a number. We should get to you by November 2012.

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Busty Busted

Ordinarily, I’d support any initiative that enables one to grope beauty queens. But I had to go shoot my mouth off and condemn from the get-go the TSA enhanced security nonsense as an appalling assault on personal liberty.

So, I’ll have to content myself with a told-you-so:

What bothered me most was when she ran the back of her hands down my behind, felt around my breasts, and even came in contact with my vagina! Honestly, I was in shock, especially since the woman at LAX never actually touched me there. The TSA employee at DFW touched private area 4 times, going up both legs from behind and from the front, each time touching me there. Was I at my gynecologist’s office? No! This was crazy!

I just kept thinking, “What have I done to deserve this treatment as an upstanding, law-abiding American citizen?” Am I a threat to US security? I was Miss USA, for Pete’s sake!

Hey, if future beauty queens can get felt up, why not washed up has-beens?

At best, it’s random. At worst, it gives pervs a gold ticket to fondle anyone they like. And it does nothing—nothing—for security. Nothing.

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Slaughterhouse 5

What’s the old expression? Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And the power to reach into your pants means the power to pick you pocket:

Two agents working for the Transportation Security Administration have been arrested after stealing from passengers at New York’s JFK airport.

The New York Daily News reports that Davon Webb and Persad Coumar were ratted out by a colleague. Both have worked for the TSA for over five years.

The theft that doomed the two involved pocketing $40,000 from a passenger’s bag. After being interrogated they confessed to stealing as much as $160,000 from passengers, selecting victims’ bags at random.

A representative of the TSA told the Daily News that the agency’s 50,000 employees should not be stigmatized by the “disgraceful actions of a few.”

The “few” bad apples include Michael Arato, a Newark TSA supervisor who pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing thousands of dollars from passengers at the New Jersey airport.

Arato partnered with a subordinate TSA agent to conduct the thefts. The two agents stole tens of thousands of dollars from passengers while either subjecting them to additional screening or while screening their bags.

Yet another TSA employee was arrested on January 27 in Memphis, Tennessee for attempting to steal a passenger’s laptop from a screening area.

If you add these bad apples to the bad apples that download x-ray images of passengers in their birthday suits and the bad apples that call over their buddies to take a look at some woman’s thong and the bad apples that select passengers to screen based on the size of their rack—plus the (relatively speaking) good apples who decide that the all-American family of four is a threat to national security, requiring the application of latex gloves to sensitive areas—you have a melange of apples fit only for hog slop.

When the archives are written, the total resignation over this level of intrusion into our lives will mark a key turning point. We won’t let our government employ sophisticated identification and psychological profiling to maintain our safety—but we will allow them to have a Kodak moment with our junk. And the political Left, which screamed bloody murder at the thought of wiretapping overseas terrorist’s phone calls (recently renewed without a Leftist peep under Obama), merely drops its drawers and bends over. We’d better all get used to it.

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Travel Story

We flew to our Undisclosed Destination while I was away. Do you remember how outraged I was at the TSA’s new screening policies? How I bit off anyone’s head who said such an obvious violation of unreasonable search and seizure without probable cause wasn’t a big deal?

Guess which father and his family of four got pulled aside to have their junk x-rayed.

That’s right, moi. Curse you, Janet Incompetano, but thanks for reading.

I got my revenge, though. Let’s just say that the system didn’t have enough memory and I crashed the site. You can look, but don’t touch—and you can’t even look.

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We’re the Government, We’re Here to Help

They can put their hands all over my “junk”, but they can’t put their hands on over 100,000 airplanes:

The Federal Aviation Administration says registration records for as many as one-third of all private aircraft are out-of-date and inaccurate, and has begun the process of re-registering aircraft in the United States — a task made more urgent by the threat posed by criminals and terrorists.

Of the 357,000 registered aircraft in the United States, records for about 119,000 are believed to be out of date, with many of them believed to be junked or inactive aircraft, the FAA said.

But the inaccurate records also could conceal criminal or even terrorist activity, say some security and aviation experts, who say it is critical that the FAA restore order to its records.

If you accept that the eff-ups we know about are only the tip of the iceberg, the mind reels at how effed-up we really must be.

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WANTED

Drop dead gorgeous or alive:

A former “Baywatch” beauty is feeling overexposed after going through what she says was a humiliating body scan by Transportation Security Administration agents at Los Angeles International Airport.

Donna D’Errico, who was the Playboy Playmate in September 1995, says she got a few leers along with the scan and isn’t happy about it.

After waiting in a long line of holiday travelers, D’Errico and her son finally made it to the moving carrier where all the carry-on bags are placed. That’s when a TSA agent took her by the elbow and told her she needed to “come this way.”

Donna D’Errico says she felt overexposed at LAX airport after being forced to go through a body scan that she suspects was ordered because she was pretty and not because she was a terrorist suspect.

“I said I was traveling with my son, motioning to him, and the agent said he was to come along with me as well,” D’Errico said. “I immediately asked why we were having to go through an extra search, and no one else was being made to do so, indicating the long line of other passengers in front of and behind where we had been in line. In a very sarcastic tone, and still holding me by the elbow, the agent responded, ‘Because you caught my eye, and they’ — pointing to the other passengers — ‘didn’t.’”

Aw, come on, honey! It’s the least you can do for national security.

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The Miss TSA Calendar

I don’t know about you, but I totally can’t wait for next November:

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This “Security Theater” Should Have Closed in New Haven

It’s not just the civilians who call bulls**t:

Since 9/11, cryptology expert and security consultant Bruce Schneier has been one of the most pointed critics of the government’s anti-terrorism security programs. In his 2003 book “Beyond Fear,” he coined the phrase “security theater” to refer to measures which are undertaken not because they will be effective at thwarting attacks, but because the agencies carrying them out need to appear to be doing something useful. We spoke to Schneier about the recent controversy involving the Transport Security Agency’s use of invasive scanners and full-body pat-downs.

Q: The machines have shown up in the wake of the so-called underwear bomber, who tried to blow up a plane with chemicals stored in his briefs. Would this technology have stopped him?

A: The guys who make the machines have said, “We wouldn’t have caught that.”

Q: So what kind of attack will this prevent, that otherwise might be successful?

A: There are two kinds of hijackers. There’s the lone nutcase, like someone who will bring a gun onto a plane because, dammit, they’re going to take the whole plane down with them. Any pre-9-11 airport security would catch a person like that.

The second kind is the well-planned, well-financed Al Qaeda-like plot. And nothing can be done to stop someone like that.

Q: Has there been a case since 9/11 of an attempted hijacker being thwarted by airport security?

A: None that we’ve heard of. The TSA will say, “Oh, we’re not allowed to talk about successes.” That’s actually bullsh*t. They talk about successes all the time. If they did catch someone, especially during the Bush years, you could be damned sure we’d know about it. And the fact that we didn’t means that there weren’t any.

Q: What’s the motive behind introducing this new level of security?

A: It’s politics. You have to be seen as doing something, even if nothing is the smart thing to do. You can’t be seen as doing nothing.

He thinks the threat of airline terrorism is overblown, which I don’t necessarily buy. For whatever reason, Muslim terrorists seem attracted to planes, both before 9/11 and after. But if another attempt is foiled, it won’t be because of these scanners or fondlers.

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Why They Want to Touch Your Junk

Rush has been talking about this Atlantic piece today which will explain all:

Agents were funneling every passenger at this particular checkpoint through a newly installed back-scatter body imaging device, which allows the agency’s security officers to, in essence, see under your clothing. The machine captures an image of your naked self, including your genitals, and sends the image to an agent in a separate room. I don’t object to stringent security (as you will soon see), but I do object to meaningless security theater (Bruce Schneier’s phrase), and I believe that we would be better off if the TSA focused its attentions on learning the identity and background of each passenger, rather than on checking whether passengers are carrying contraband.

In part because of the back-scatter imager’s invasiveness (a TSA employee in Miami was arrested recently after he physically assaulted a colleague who had mocked his modestly sized penis, which was fully apparent in a captured back-scatter image), the TSA is allowing passengers to opt-out of the back-scatter and choose instead a pat-down.

In other words, people, when faced with a choice, will inevitably choose the Dick-Measuring Device over molestation? “That’s what we’re hoping for. We’re trying to get everyone into the machine.” He called over a colleague. “Tell him what you call the back-scatter,” he said. “The Dick-Measuring Device,” I said. “That’s the truth,” the other officer responded.

Fascist troops will single out a person and shoot him in the head as an example to the others: do what we say or this could be you. Get in the machine, let us measure your flounder, or we’ll do it manually. And you don’t want us to do it manually.

It’s the machine they want to use. The pat-downs are just to make us think how much worse it could be (and body cavity searches are next). Line up like cattle and get your sexual characteristics digitized. What could go wrong?


Hello baby!

BTW, shouldn’t the anti-fetus crowd at NOW be sweating (sweating more, that is)? For years, they’ve chanted:

Yet now the TSA asserts they have every right to put their hands on, in, and up and down your body. With that governmental right established, we’re only arguing over their jurisdiction. And it would seem to me that the life of an unborn child is a pretty compelling case for intervention.

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