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  • Morning Bell: Terrorism Threat Demands Smarter Security, Not More Money

    Desperate to defect attention away from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s “the system worked” comments, the left in Congress is attempting to blame conservatives for the attempted Christmas Day Flight 253 bombing. Democrats charge that leading conservatives voted against $4 billion for “screening operations” including $1.1 billion in funding for explosives detection systems. Leaving aside the fact that bomb detection in U.S. airports would have done nothing to stop a bomber who boarded planes in Ghana and Amsterdam, the left’s attack shows just how off base their approach to national security is.

    The most effective means of stopping terrorist attacks is to disrupt them as early as possible. Relying on bomb detection equipment to thwart terrorism attacks allows these plots to continue far too long. The Flight 253 attack was the 28th foiled terror plot against the United States since 9/11. What is notable is that of the 28 failed plots, 26 were stopped by intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies. Only two were stopped by citizens on the scene— Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009, and Richard Reid in 2001. In both these cases, America just got lucky—the plots were clumsy and the passengers and crew responded bravely and quickly. There are many valuable lessons to be learned from the failed Christmas attack on a Detroit-bound airliner; throwing more money at airline security is not one of them.

    Lesson #1: U.S. Security Has Not Mastered Stopping the Threat of Individuals Carrying Bombs on Their Persons. This is a lesson al-Qaeda has already learned. That is why they tried the Richard Reid–style attack again—and they will keep at it until they are stopped or they figure out how to kill lots of people.

    Lesson #2: Get Smarter About Stopping “the People Carrying Bomb” Threat. These types of attacks are hard to detect if the bomb can be concealed. There are sophisticated technologies that can find these bombs, but are they expensive, time-consuming, and not universally deployed at all international airports—and terrorists are already working on ways to defeat these technologies. Rather than spending billions of dollars more on airline security, the smarter answer would be to make sure suspicious persons are routed to secondary screening. These simple measures would still not be foolproof, though. Therefore, an even better strategy would be to break up the conspiracies that recruit, organize, train, and dispatch terrorists long before would-be bombers buy their plane tickets.

    Lesson #3: Dots Were Not Connected. Fix the Problem. If either Abdulmutallab or Reid had been directed to an effective secondary screening or placed on a “no-fly” list, they would have been effectively stopped. In both cases, bad decisions were made and information was not appropriately shared. Abdulmutallab’s visa probably should never have been awarded or at least revoked. Arguably, his case was mismanaged by the consular office. Consular affairs are run by the Department of State, but by law the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is supposed to set polices for them. DHS has no such policy in place. Furthermore, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which is supposed to screen air travelers, does not use the comprehensive U.S. terrorist databases for screening. By law, Congress requires TSA to leave screening in the hands of the airlines, which do not have access to these databases either. They are limited to the “no fly” list. These are leadership problems. They have to be addressed.

    Lesson # 4: The System Failed. Abdulmutallab did not dream up his attack on his own. He must have been recruited by someone. He must have worked with a bomb maker. He must have had a “terrorist travel agent.” That is at least four people working to kill Americans, and it adds up to a full-blown terrorist cell. The fact that there was an active international conspiracy aimed at the U.S. that Americans knew nothing about is appalling. The U.S. has built up plenty of good counterterrorism tools, but the government has to use them and use them effectively—all the time. That is how 26 conspiracies have been thwarted. That Congress settled for only a 60-day extension for key investigative authorities authorized under the PATRIOT Act is appalling. The Administration and Congress have to start taking the fight against terrorism more seriously.

    Lesson #5: The U.S. Continues to Put Its Citizens at Risk. Kevin Mitchell of the Business Travel Coalition recently said that since 9/11 “the highest and best use of each incremental security dollar spent should have been on intelligence gathering, risk-management analysis and sharing, and on fundamental police work such that terrorists would never reach an airport, much less board an airplane.” But Mitchell and groups like the ACLU have fought tooth and nail against exactly such common sense intelligence/risk-management programs calling them “invasive screening” and “data mining.”

    Body searching children and grandmothers and spending billions on super expensive screening technologies will not make Americans safer. In stopping this particular kind of threat, not enough progress has been made since Richard Reid set fire to his shoe. In some respects, this Administration is moving backward. It is time to reverse course.

    Quick Hits:

    • Pressed by NBC News to justify her statement that “the system worked,” Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano backtracked and admitted yesterday: “Our system did not work in this instance. No one is happy or satisfied with that.”
    • According to Rasmussen Reports, 79% of U.S. voters now think it is likely there will be another terrorist attack in the United States in the next year.
    • Iranian authorities dramatically intensified a crackdown on the country’s burgeoning opposition movement Monday, rounding up political activists and seizing the corpse of one leading dissident’s nephew, in an apparent effort to stem further protests.
    • The Defense appropriations bill signed by President Barack Obama this month has 97 pages listing nearly 1,000 congressional earmarks.
    • Also according to Rasmussen Reports, government employees have a much more optimistic opinion about the near future of our economy than private sector employees do.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    40 Responses to Morning Bell: Terrorism Threat Demands Smarter Security, Not More Money

    1. Mark Charest says:

      I used to train the airport screeners. Its not that hard to smuggle something on the way this moron did. We are just lucky he wasn't smart enough to go in the bathroom where no one could stop him. We were VERY lucky!

    2. Brj, Florida says:

      Janet Napolitano needs to go. She is clearly over her head running the HSA and her ineptitude will only lead to further attacks, loss of life, and damage to America. Where is her experience? She has no credentials for this job. This is too important a position to repeatedly screw up! Our country's safety, our citizen's safety is at risk every day. If she's not smart enough to know when a system is working or not working, OR…she has such a political agenda that she can't be honest, she has no place running such an important security umbrella protecting our country and our citizens. Get her out…now!

    3. Dave Sennett, outsid says:

      What if the Chinese bailed us out, what rules would they institute in this country?



    4. toledofan says:

      It obvious, that until we take a proactive approach to terrorism, and call it what it is, the willful killing of innocent Americans to create a jihad, we will continue to be vunerable to other attacks. Until we call a terrorist a terrorist and stop trying to treat them as 'criminals' we will be seen as weak. Here's a guy who trys to blow up and kill 278 innocent civilians and we allow him to have our rights under the Constitution, get him an attorney and treat him like a person who just robbed the 711. Something is really wrong with this picture.

    5. Ilia Encinosa, Miami says:

      More screening of suspicious passengers and, yes, profiling is necessary for the safety of those who fly.

      I am sorry if some people will get inconvenienced but we must stop being "politically correct" and accept that we are being attacked by muslim radicals. If you are a muslim and are innocent then you will not mind being screened.

      I travel often and added smart security is not a problem to me, I welcome it.

      Lets get them before they get us.

    6. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      And categorizing these acts of war as "crimes", with all the legal "rights" that it entails will really assist in our efforts to protect and defend the American people, right?

      Body scanning is intrusive. God forbid that dogs sniff at and around the passengers before they board. So instead, our countermeasures dictate keeping people in their seats, no pillows, no inflight movies, no books? We just don't want to accept the fact that we need to identify potential killers and if someone's feelings get hurt – too bad.

      These killers are patient. Their ideological zeal means we must take the offensive – continuously, forever. Ultimately, none of this will work unless other countries are also serious.

      The left-wing worldview is not suited for killing terrorists and holding military tribunals. We cannot negotiate with those who are not afraid to die and only lie.

      What are we doing?

    7. Ted Moore Grand Pra says:

      Once again the left points its finger at conservatives on airline safety when the only way to stop the terrorist is to profile certain individuals, the left has started the political correctness in this country that given the terrorist a easy mark on America and its interests, we would do well to take Israels ideas on profileing, they, after all do not spend billons on airport security,and they have the safest airlines in the world, so the billons of dollars that the conservatives refused to pass is the right thing to do, and the left has to forget this P.C. crap and start living in the real world.

    8. James Campbell, Rich says:

      I find your Morning Bell materials to be very informative. I would like them more though if they could be saved in a printable .pdf format for reading at a later time in my day or week.

      Thank you

    9. Christopher Popham S says:

      Tick tock. Tick tock, Ms. Napaalitano. It's just a

      matter of time before a radical Muslim cell

      (homegrown or otherwise) figures out a way to blow up an aircraft, a public building or maybe an entire

      city block. Regrettably, because of the mandate handed to you by the Administration, it would appear

      that for all intents and purposes, you are not

      suited to your job.

      Good luck America.

    10. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      The far left in Congress have proven what they are. They cannot be trusted. They are not trusted by the overwhelming majority of the American people.

      My main concern is, "Can this country survive until we attempt to get them out in the 2010 elections?" I say attempt because history and common sense dictates there will be voting problems – and, desperate politicians will often put their interests before the country's.

    11. Blair says:

      Actually, it requires both. Political correctness shouldn't play a part in it. The underwear bomber could have been stopped

      if he'd gone through a new x-ray machine that shows your skivvies. Both the NRA and the ACLU, (American Criminal Liberties Union), are opposed to it. So are privacy groups. Well, here's my comeback. Privacy is a quaint anachronism.

    12. Elaine Donnelly says:

      Depending on the direction of the winds on that day, the NW flight could have been destroyed directly over the city where I live, north of Detroit Metro airport. Where is SASC Chairman Carl Levin on this?

      I agree with the Heritage commentary, but I resent the possibility of privacy-invading x-ray machines. Two ideas: Contact and train former law enforcement and military officers who have experience noticing people who pose a possible threat, and give them special access to airplanes and a system to communicate with terminal personnel and flight crews. This would be a force multiplier, since it is not possible to have air marshalls on every flight. Puffer machines slow security lines but they would have detected the threat on this flight. Explosive-sniffing dogs, who should be present at all terminals and routinely circulated at gates, would cost less and be worth every penny.

      I hope that you will continue to highlight this important subject. Our luck will run out soon.

      Elaine Donnelly, Livonia, Michigan

    13. Richard Cancemi, Arl says:

      This Administration is so preoccupied with shucking the Constitution and installing Marxism that it doesn't bother with reality issues. They are all ideologic nincompoops!

      Their 'Agenda' is more important than practicality. They speak of the masses in collectivist terms and have no concern or time for the Individual. His needs, rights and safety are viewed as distractions to their subversion of the USA to Socialism.

      Their plans to 'help' people are really plans to enslave us to Government controls.

      Their 'heads' are not stuck in the clouds; they are stuck somewhere else, as are the people who support them; thoughtless sheep following an evil shepherd.

      They are not good people.

    14. Dean-Texas/Alaska says:

      Treating this enemy combatant like a shop lifter, and not subjecting him to military interogations, illustrates perfectly the danger America is in from the "policies" of the Obama administration.

    15. Jonathan Seid, Willi says:

      Ms. Napolitano's comment speaks for her competence, as does the failure of the explosive device to work that would have killed hundreds had it functioned. In both cases, Americans were lucky. There are no casualties.

      Until the Administration agrees that terrorists are soldiers engaged in war with the US and her allies, expecting policemen and district attorney's to fight them, we will suffer deaths and treasure longer than will have been necessary. Thus, ensuring the political elite the opportunity to grab power and money created by extending the madness of Islamic jihad, promising to keep Americans safe.

    16. Publius Huldah, Cook says:

      J.K.Rowling's masterpiece, "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", describes a civil government [The Ministry of Magic] which adamantly REFUSES to acknowledge the existence and threat of a monstrous Evil which threatens to consume the entire world. And not only does The Ministry refuse to acknowledge the Evil, it mocks, belittles and ridicules those who do.

      Hummm. One of our many problems is that from the dark days of the Clintons,and continuing through the years of George W.Bush and up to this day, the federal government has refused to recognize that radical Islam is a dire threat to us and to all the civilized world!

      Cowardice and the ideology of multi-culturalism will do us in. Cowards are not willing to look "Facts" and "Reality" in the face. And contrary to the doctrine of multi-culturalism, all cultures are not equal. A culture which treats all people (e.g., females, civilians, children, etc.) as badly as do the radical Islamists, is an evil and contemptible culture. It must be fought and defeated.

      We can not fight Evil if we refuse to acknowledge that it exists. Monitor the radical Islamists! Control who enters this country! Do profiling at air ports and other public places!

      And where are the "peaceloving" Muslims? Help clean this up!

      Clinton refused to admit it, George W. Bush told us every day that Islam is a peaceful religion, and our dear reader…well

    17. Whicket Williams Kin says:

      If you are interested in a grassroots movement send me an e-mail ww77651@aol.com

    18. Rich, Whistler, BC says:

      100% of terror attacks are carried out by young muslim men, yet profiling is forbidden. Political correctness resulted in the death of 14 (let's not forget the baby) at Ft. Hood. How many more need to die before we figure this out?

    19. David A Gorby, SoCal says:

      Israel gets it right, why don't we get it? "Not all Muslims are terrorists; but almost all terrorists are Muslim." Thus profiling and secondary screening should be in place mandatory! Also, since there are over 500,000 on the Watch List; and obviously not enough to WATCH those on the Watch List, place those on the WATCH LIST on the NO FLY until cleared!

    20. Al Reasin says:

      Now let my mind wonder a bit here. We, er, the Brits know that 25 young men are training at secret terror camps in Yemen and they intend to attack airliners and kill innocent people. If I remember correctly, just a year ago we were at war against these type of people; you know, now say it quitely, Islamicfascist terrorists. My reading of history is that during war commanders usually try to destroy elements of the enemy forces that are dangerous and at the same time vulnerable in surprise attacks to limit the enemy's later effectiveness; ah, that is being proactive not reactive. So has PCness now been ordered over the former American desire for survival and victory? Just asking, since I believe I have a small stake in the survival of my country; of course I am risking being labeled a domestic terrorist again by DHS.

    21. Danny, SoCal says:

      According to this mornings Drudge report, Chris Dodd and Joe Leiberman were the ones that sponsored the amendment to remove that same amount and give it to Dodd's "pet constituency" firefighters unions.

      Is this the same bill?

      link is here… http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/b

    22. Da Dog says:

      Rather than address the real problems the Democrat Cabal seeks to blame others for their shortcomings and sheer incompetence. It is classic "it's not my fault" mentality – lack of responsibility – and frankly, totally immature. Liberals act like spoiled children and have taught generations to avoid responsibility for their actions / inactions.

    23. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Dear Elaine Donnelly,

      I would not worry so much about "privacy invading x-ray machines". We need all the tools we can get and the body scanner is one of the best. I don't really think the airport personnel care about your x-rayed nude image.

      This is the price for the best safety. Better to be temporarily embarrassed by a person you will never see again then allow hundreds of other people to be killed if something slips by.

      Besides, it's like driving – you don't have to do either…

    24. Ron Thompson, Albuqu says:

      As we take a big chunk out of the TSA, this is not thier problem. It is the state department and a Dutch problem. obviously the Dutch don't look as hard as others, and why should they? Thier political correctness toward Muslims has led the country to turn their heads on a lot of issues involving Muslims. As for the state department; the lack of attention to details has allowed this test of the system to happen. It failed! So, it won't be long until another attempt will be made, and might be successful! We have the wrong administration and congress to fix this problem!

    25. Lee-White Tanks AZ says:

      Let's get real:

      Lesson #2 is by far the most significant and at the same time the most fraught with problems. The number one problem that it would REQUIRE PROFILING, OMG!!!

      Without trained personnel knowing exactly and broadly what to look for and send to secondary screening nothing is going to work. There is of course an ancillary requirement, primary search equipment and methodology that will screen 80% of the threats. Then secondary equipment and methods that are virtually foolproof should get the remaining 20% (we hope)

      Any thing less is a Farce. Enough lives have been sacrificed at the alter of PC driven no-profiling nonsense. To continue down the PC path in this instance is tantamount to Criminal Negligence.

      PC is Thought Control


    26. Phyllis ,Parker Colo says:

      The State Department is in charge of Visas- where is Hillary Clinton???She needs to explain why her department failed…

    27. SOOTHSAYER ONE says:

      (((((((( SMART DOGS ))))))))))

      I am 99% certain that if this 24 year old Nigerian with money taking a one-way flight to a US destination while showing bona-fide visa stamped several times with visits to Yeman would have been thoroughly sniffed by a "Smart Dog" and denied boarding the plane. Snout in crotch alone would put this jihadist into panic.

    28. Pete Kleff, Cypress, says:

      The best equipment to detect for explosives is a trained dog. The simplicity of using dogs at airports is the least intrusive, yet most effective methodology to prevent incidents as the Christmas Day terrorist attack by an Islamist fanactic.

    29. Ron Derry NH says:

      This was a score, for the enemy, only chance and circumstances prevented it from being the DEATH of Americans. If this is what Obama and his leftist allies call protecting Americans than you can be sure we are all at risk.

      This is only not a disaster because the bomb failed as he successfully got on the plane, right under the entire security systems noses. He succeeded in making a joke of American protection procedures that in itself is a victory for terrorism.

      People should be furious at themselves for electing such a leftist agenda driven boob that cares nothing but for playing golf and giving speeches of rhetorical garbage at them.

    30. Jeanne Stotler, wood says:

      Let's see I am a 77yo female, blonde hair, blue eyes, I travel usually to Fla. with RT ticket, and luggage, I get screened everytime in WPB or ft.Myers, Fl. airport, never in DC,I am of Danish extraction on father's side, English, French,(Caen) area,and scottish on mother's(this goes back to 1620, related to 3 past pres., numerous other's of political importance in the past, I certainly do not pose a threat, yet I've seen others that make me nervous get on a plane with not so mucha blink. Yes profiling is necessary, I agree all Muslim's are not terrorist but so far all terrorist are radical Muslim's, Since they usually originate in Europe let's start looking harder at those with tickets to anywhere in USA.

    31. Leith Wood, Virginia says:

      The State Department must be filled with tassle toed twits with their heads in liberal lala land. What happened to the warnings from the would be bomber's father? No more Cuban prisoners should be sent to Yeman for any reason. We blew getting valuable information from the terrorist by handling him under civil law. We need top people in intellegence now and a president, who will let the CIA, the FBI and oyher agencies do their jobs without interference or our country is doomed.

    32. Ed Kimble, Columbia says:

      The simple truth, it is simply impossible to successfully block explosives and poisons from getting on a plane. Impossible… For one reason, the plane itself contains many explosives, chemicals, and sources of failure. But the Congress, both the right and left sides of the aisle must rely on experts and on spending to close the gap as much as possible. And politically, you can use this tit-for-tat to bug your 'steemed opposition but usually while increasing storm troopers and national debt. There are more effective but cruel approaches, retaliations: erasure, lying, enemy replacement! Knowing all this why not eliminate TSA altogether, buy Yemen, increase scanning, and kick these folks back to the pebble age, skip stones.

    33. Jim Carmichael, Cumm says:

      It's amazing how so few of us gets it. We control nothing. If there is anything I learned in a year in Vietnam, you don't even control the ground you stand on because it might be mined. However, there is One who does. "I am the LORD, and there is no other; I form the light and crate darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the LORD, do all these things." Isaiah 45:7

      "The LORD has made all for Himself, Yes, even the wicked for the day of evil (doom)." Proverbs 16:4

      "A man's heart plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps." Proverbs 16:9

      "The LORD sat enthroned at the Flood, And the LORD sits as King forever." Psalm 29:10

      "Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."" Psalm 2:1-6

      The most merciful and important thing I can tell you about this insane world we live in, which is passing away, is that which Jesus proclaimed to Israel, "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is come near." You control nothing.

    34. Deborah, Southeast U says:


      If you go up in a plane, the U.S. government is not going to save you from inventive murderers who have boarded. The terrorists are going to get through the inspection gates. Get some personal training and guidance on how to detect and protect yourselves when you are in the air. Think like a free citizen.

    35. Rayford Davenport says:

      If the George Bush plan was left in place, didn't that mean they liked it? Simply come up with a better one.

    36. Karen Bonville says:

      This is completely off of the subject,but I have a question.Has any one read about the President signing into law that Interpol is allowed to be here under immunity and conduct investigations and make arrest without the help of any type of U.S. law inforcement.This was done on Dec.17 2009.

    37. Philip . Walmer - Br says:

      I, as others, often fly to various destinations. I remember a flight from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, Brazil, via Peruvian Airlines. We had to deplane in Lima, Peru, go to the terminal, put our bags through the scanner again to later reboard the same plane. As I put my bag on the scanner belt, I noticed the man running the equipment. He was sitting behind his machine, reading a newspaper. Yes there are horrendous holes in worldwide security. All these terrorists have to do is discover a breech like this one and they will be begin to fly in from countries that we do not suspect as being terrorist havens.

    38. THE CAPTAIN New Orle says:

      The Christmas attack was not a failure. The attack was a success, but the bomb detonation was a failure. The success came without a serious injury or death. Now travelers are afraid again realizing that the State Department and TSA are a joke. Also, the USA is now scrambling to spend more money that we do not have on more policies that State and TSA won't make work, either. Isn't that the ultimate terrorism? We do not feel safe and are spending money uselessly.

    39. Freedom of Speech, T says:

      Leave it up to politicians and/or lawyers to describe (what any imbecile KNOWS is a terrorist attack) as "attempted" or "alledged".

      This is what brings the average American to a state of disgust. These people think they are so smart when most of them could not even fix a plumbing problem or perform an auto oil change.

      No wonder the world laughs at us. We've got idiots (by definition lacking any common sense) labeling attacks as "man-made disasters". The PC thought endowed by our PC teachers and unions is that somehow the world will be more tolerant with us if we do not UPSET them. We're handing foriegn leaders toy reset buttons and giving the Iranians a chance to unclinch their fist? Yeah, right. We've got the Homeland Security Director more worried about returning veterans joining white extremists groups then enhancing existing systems and creating HER OWN systems to deal with SECURITY.

      Worse of all – you check out the major networks and some cable news outlets and you have buffoons asking stupid questions and wondering HOW THIS COULD HAPPEN. If any of them studied history, instead of making excuses, they would know what we are dealing with – cold hearted killers in the name of Allah.

      QUIT playing politics with OUR LIVES before it is too late.

    40. Kelly, Chappaqua, NY says:

      If the DHS were really doing their job, we would not need to be scanned.

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