Red Flags Ignored in ‘Underpants Bomber’ Caper – Same as in 9/11

Wed, Dec 30, 2009 — David Evans


In the wake of the “underpants bomber’s” thwarted attack Christmas Day on Northwest Airlines Flight Flight 253, it may be instructive to recall recent history. [See Aviation Safety Journal, ‘Public Skeptical of Increased Airline Security’] Here’s a section taken from a government document of five years ago:

“Information was not shared … Analysis was not pooled … Often the handoffs of information were lost across the divide separating the foreign and domestic agencies of the government.

“Improved use of ‘no-fly’ and ‘automatic selectee’ lists should not be delayed …. This screening function should be performed by the TSA [Transportation Security Administration], and it should utilize the larger set of watchlists maintained by the federal government.

“The TSA … must give priority attention to improving the ability of screening checkpoints to detect explosives on passengers.”

And what is this government document from which the citation comes? No less than the 9/11 Commission Report on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, dated July 2004. The very problem the commission issued recommendations to resolve apparently remain with us half a decade after it issued its report and eight years after the terrorist attacks of September 2001. Interagency rivalry and lack of data sharing have reappeared in the exact same form as in 2001. What’s still needed is a streamlined organization, with reduced tensions and better cooperation.

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