Blogs » Politcs Plus » Homeland safety, at what cost?


This week we will have congressional hearings so that congress can to point fingers at our aviation security failures but little will be done about it because they will waste precious time and effort trying make this a partisan political issue. The opposition party leaders have already criticized the president because he took 72 hours to respond, called for the head of Janet Napolitano because of her response, and former Vice President Cheney is using the recent incident to try to prove that the Obama administration is weak on terrorism. The fact that President Bush took six days to respond to a similar incident (shoe bomber) the Obama Administration had already been proactive in Yemen and President Bush made the previous incident, a civilian issue, does not seem to stop the criticism. Senator Jim DeMint(R-SC) is holding up the confirmation of counter terrorism expert, Erroll Southers, to head the Transportation Security Administration because he might allow the workers to unionize.

President Obama has accepted fault by saying that the recent failed bombing was a systemic failure. The fact that a 23-year-old Nigerian paid $2,831 in cash for a one-way ticket without baggage should have been reason for alarm but even before that, his own father warned the US Embassy in Nigeria that his son had ties with extremist; his visa should've been immediately declined. Fact is Abulmatallab's name never rose above the less threatening U. S. Terrorist database. We have four databases with about 400,000 names; perhaps that is where we can start the overhaul because that figure contains just 3,400 attached to a no-fly list.

The United States has spent nearly $800 million trying to develop sniffers, scanners, and automotive explosive detection system for carry-on baggage and another one made especially for shoes while they're still on your feet but many have not yet been deployed. Only 36 airports have a device which will sniff the air for trace explosives but they would not have detected the PETN, Adulmutallab used. We currently have 40 millimeter -wave scanners that are used to generate a detailed image located in just 19 airports and the TSA recently ordered 150 of the backscatter x-ray machines that will detect the PETN but they are some privacy concerns. These machines cost about $180,000.

We cannot downplay the threat of Al Qaeda and airline safety but I don't think we have to resort to knee-jerk solutions, such as playing the blame game, using it as a call to go back to using enhanced interrogation methods or stopping the closing of Guantanamo Bay. The recent bombing of several of our CIA agents just proves how difficult it is to get intelligence from so-called informants whose call to jihad will always take preference. The CIA agent cannot try to infiltrate Al Qaeda for fear of being kidnapped nor can they allow informants to enter their camp without a strip search; this makes it extremely difficult.

If we insist that this should be a political issue than perhaps we should know those legislators names that voted against security measures in the homeland because of the expense. Only about 5% of the cargo that comes into our seaports ever get inspected, our chemical plants are still vulnerable because their lobbyist have kept them from installing expensive security measures, so perhaps we need answers from those groups. Home land security should not be a partisan political issue

January 11,2010 issue of Time Magazine was used for the costs and detailed information of our detection machines in our airports.*