While reporters and bloggers are busy tallying up the many, sundry ways the Department of Homeland Security has screwed up, the Department of Homeland Security seems to going after bloggers.
At least two travel bloggers — Chris Elliott and Steve Frischling — have received subpoenas from investigators asking who gave them a directive about increased security measures after the Christmas Day attempted bombing, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Never mind that the document was widely disseminated to airline staff, that its major points were reported by traditional media outlets and that some of its provisions were spectacularly stupid. What’s important is to find someone to blame for making it public.
If the TSA and the Department of Homeland Security need something to investigate, here’s a suggestion, if I may quote Maureen Dowd of the New York Times:
If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
Oh, wait. I know. Bloggers!
The federal government’s response to the (forgive me) underwear bomber is a bit like the response of an incompetent teacher who can’t control a class: just punish everyone.
The main question here is how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab got a valid U.S. visa and how his name was cleared on the flight manifest by U.S. authorities. The other really important question would be how he managed to get on board with his shorts full of explosives.
We’ll probably learn a whole lot more in the next couple of days about the Nigerian man who told authorities he was trying to blow up a Delta flight above Detroit.
It will of course be particularly important to know how he got the explosives past security at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, and whether he had enough to bring down the jet.
To those posting on message boards about lax European airport security, I have to say that I have never been as closely questioned and screened for a flight as at Schiphol. Lax really isn’t a word that comes to mind in that context.
There are people who want to believe in conspiracies everywhere. There are people who want to believe the worst about all Muslims. And there are people who lie.
Put them all together, and you end up with an email about how a courageous passenger thwarted a terrorist dry run by a group of Arab men on an AirTran flight out of Atlanta last month.
Except it was very clearly a simple misunderstanding with a man who didn’t understand a flight attendant’s instructions to turn off his camera. And he apparently spoke Spanish, not Arabic. And the self-proclaimed “hero” who wrote the email wasn’t even on the flight, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Better safe than sorry is an axiom that, like all others, can be carried to illogical extremes. There has to be some risk of sorry if one is ever to leave the safety of the house.
This is why I applaud the authorities for keeping Bradley International Airport open when somebody called in a bogus bomb threat on Friday, as The Hartford Courant reports.