In a recent interview with USA Today, White House National Security Adviser James Jones referred to the failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound Northwest jet on Christmas Day as strike two against the American intelligence community.
Jones, a 40-year veteran of the United State Marine Corp, said the first strike was the failure to identify Ft. Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a security threat.
There seems to be no doubt that authorities had actionable intelligence which could have prevented both attacks, but the thought of what “strike three” might entail is what should keep security officials awake at night.
Since 9/11, expansive counterterrorism measures have been put in place, new agencies created and multiple rules promulgated for the purpose of keeping Americans safe. Yet, our entire security system remains focused on reactive, rather than proactive measures.
Jones was quick to point out that the flaw in the system which allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to board a U.S. bound flight could be corrected. Within hours of the thwarted airline bombing, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was already working on a fix which included issuing new rules to make flying even more onerous for non-terrorist travelers.
Once again, the TSA and our government responded with lightning speed and knee-jerk reactions to a threat which had already passed. Lapses in security must be fixed as soon as they are discovered, but it would be much better for us all if officials could identify them before tragedy is so narrowly averted.
This is not the first time we have dodged a bullet. There are chinks in our security armor and terrorists keep probing for more.
In December of 2001, shoe bomber Richard Reid attempted to blow up a Miami bound flight from Paris using plastic explosives concealed in his shoes. Had it not been for alert passengers and flight attendants, he might have succeeded. Since that attempt, the TSA has diligently checked airline passengers for exploding footwear, but apparently not for exploding underpants.
In 2006, three men were charged with plotting to blow up airplanes using liquid explosives concealed in soft drink bottles. As a result, we got the TSA’s 3-1-1 plan – three ounce or smaller containers of liquid in one quart sized bag per passenger. I have never understood how that rule would prevent a group of terrorists from filling all their little three ounce bottles with liquid explosives and then pooling resources once onboard the plane.
Terrorists have shown great imagination and ingenuity in crafting plans to kill as many Americans as possible. Our intelligence officials must show even greater imagination to foil these new and improved methods of mass murder.
As George W. Bush once said, “We have to be right 100 percent of the time. And the enemy only has to be right once to hurt us.”
That is the problem that will continue to plague this and every subsequent administration. Terrorists are relentless and determined to succeed – no matter the cost.
President Obama has promised a security overhaul. Hopefully, the effort will be successful.
Until then, our best and last line of defense is the same defense that stopped Al-Qaeda supporter Richard Reid, the same defense that prevented the terrorists aboard United Airlines Flight 93 from reaching their intended target and the same defense which prevented Abdulmutallab from successfully completing his Christmas Day attack – the ongoing vigilance of the American people.
Kristi Reed is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There won't security as along Obama is president of this great nation that he taken away from us. Think about the best way to destroy you enemy is to attack from within. well guess are being attack from within and we need to step and stop it before it gets worst.