A few year ago, TSA chief John Pistole was asked at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast about the intrusive pat-downs that passengers are subjected to at airports. He was asked whether these security measures that humiliate the elderly, the disabled, children and everybody else are indications that the whole system itself is flawed.
John Pistole responded that the reason we have to endure security measures that involve groping of passengers’ private areas is that in 2004, 2 Chechen suicide terrorists boarded planes with bombs in their bras and underwear:
“I think back to two Russian airliners, I believe it was in the fall of , that were taken down–the best intelligence is by two female suicide bombers about 90 minutes apart, where they had explosives in their bras and around their waists. Now the question is: What was the screening on that? Were there some other issues? But I think there were 134 people killed between those two terrorist attacks, and the belief was they were Chechens, black widows as they referred to them, who brought those airliners down. So, that is the challenge that we deal with.”
Even though his comments were made in 2010, this is news now because the Boston bombers hailed from Chechnya. But I don’t want to talk about the Chechen connection to the Boston bombers.
In the same way that terrorist acts are used by the government to justify more government, the actions of those 2 Chechen women supposedly justify the TSA’s ludicrous security theater. And we can thank one failed shoe bomber for making us have to take our shoes off anytime we try to board a plane or enter a courthouse.
The problem with security theater and laws aimed at preventing certain criminal acts from occurring is that experienced criminals are smarter than bureaucrats who make a living selling “safety and security” to vulnerable Americans. They’re also more determined to commit their acts than the bureaucrats are to stop them. Criminals and terrorists are always inventing work-arounds that can bypass the tightest security protocols.
Think of Abdullah al-Asiri, an Al Qaeda terrorist who attempted to assassinate a Saudi Prince:
“To get his bomb into this room, Abdullah Asieri, one of Saudi Arabia’s most wanted men, avoided detection by two sets of airport security including metal detectors and palace security. He spent 30 hours in the close company of the prince’s own secret service agents – all without anyone suspecting a thing. How did he do it? Taking a trick from the narcotics trade – which has long smuggled drugs in body cavities – Asieri had a pound of high explosives, plus a detonator inserted in his rectum. This was a meticulously planned operation with al Qaeda once again producing something new: this time, the Trojan bomber. The blast left the prince lightly wounded – a failure as an assassination, but as an exercise in defeating security, it was perfect.”
That happened back in 2009. So, in response, when is the TSA going to start instituting full body cavity searches on every passenger at airports? That’s really the only way to ensure that no one is carrying explosives. The scanners wouldn’t be able to pick up the presence of “abdominally concealed explosives,” and even a pat down wouldn’t work. Pistole could use Abdullah Asieri as the excuse as he has the 2 Chechen women.
Pistole’s reaction to these “rectum bombs” was puzzling:
“The information is that terrorists are aware of this type of technique and interested in using it, but there is no specific threat as to a date and time and a specific flight. All of those [extra] layers of security give us the strongest defense and the best opportunity to detect and deter this from happening.”
Do we have specific threats now “as to a date and time and a specific flight” regarding bra-bombers or underwear bombers or shoe bombers? So if it has to do with bras and underwear, we don’t need specific threats to make universal pat downs and body scans a matter of policy.
Obviously, I don’t want the TSA to impose universal body cavity searches. But it’s this kind of inconsistency that shows that the TSA’s “security” protocols have little to do with keeping people safe and more to do with getting people used to being treated like cattle.