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Janet Napolitano was right when she announced that the system is working

Rich Muller, professor emeritus of physics | January 12, 2010

There is no need for full body scans.  It has been eight years since the last successful attack on an airplane.  The only person hurt in the latest incident was the terrorist.  In fact, our system is so successful that we are driving the terrorists to hiding explosives in their underwear and attempting to detonate it with nitro.  That is success: to force the terrorists to use methods that are extreme and difficult and unlikely to succeed.  I don’t think the current terrorist had enough high explosive the crash the plane.  At most he would have injured some passengers.  But he could have done that on a bus.  Let’s not over-react!  Janet Napolitano was right when she announced that the system is working.  She was attacked for having said that, and she withdrew her statement and apologized.  Obama later criticized her.  But she was right in the first place.  The rest was all politics, trying to look tough.

Comments to “Janet Napolitano was right when she announced that the system is working

  1. The Security will tell you they’ve been extensively tested and that these machines are very safe.

  2. In Edmonton, where Dr. Al-Atar has lived for about two years, members of his mosque held a vigil Sunday in his honour.

  3. I can’t agree that the system is working. We will never know with any certainty what terrorist plans were canceled because of DHS practices. It is after all hard to prove a negative.
    What we do know is that despite the best efforts of DHS one fool tried to blow up his shoe and another tried to blow up his underwear. The system, despite the near strip search practices of DHS at airports now, missed both of them. They did not succeed because of the passengers; DHS had nothing to do with it. In fact, the system “worked” so well that while one branch of DHS had good reason to believe the Detroit bomber was in fact a terrorist, the other branch was giving him a Visa to enter the US, and another branch let him walk onto a US bound jet.
    Remember also that on 9/11 a fourth plane was headed for Washington when it went down in PA, the result of passengers trying to take back their flight from terrorists.
    Here’s the thing. Balance the cost, delay, and waste of having nationalized the airport screening system against the proven results, and it doesn’t look like we got such a bargain. The reality is, bringing down an airliner in a terrorist attack is highly unlikely. Not because of DHS but because now passengers on planes are simply not going to tolerate aggressive or weird behavior from anyone. They will simply drop their peanuts and pounce. Free of charge.
    Napolitano stuck her foot in her mouth with her “the system is working” statement. The system does not work, for all the billions spent and all the cuticle scissors confiscated, the system is safer today because we, the flying masses, got the message on 9/11.

  4. I’m not so sure we can loudly declare “The system is working” until the Dept. of Homeland Security begins doing some real work on continuing problems. One would be getting regular citizens off of the “No Fly” lists because they have similar names to some random person of interest, but share absolutely no other connections or characteristics.

    Many people’s lives are compromised in serious ways simply because the Dept. just doesn’t have the manpower nor the intention of filtering the list down to the correct suspects. I know several people who continue to endure this unnecessary annoyance.

  5. Terrorism creates this state of paranoia. It is their goal. Now … What caused it? Why do people have to pay for the “bullying” of some politicians?

    Personally I feel violated every time I’m going to travel by plane …

    Until when? I do not know … But one thing is certain, the international politics of the U.S. government, has to change.


  6. I think a much better diagnosis is that the terrorists have been unsuccessful. The TSA has failed to prevent two terrorists from getting on planes with explosives. I’m sure we would hear about it if they had stopped someone at the gate with an intention to bring down a plane.

  7. I’m not sure hyperbole = press (over)reaction… we may not be able to effectively control how the press reacts, but we can try to disseminate more balanced info to counter the “comfort to our enemies” that the press may be providing…

  8. I have to disagree. Hiding explosives in your underwear may be a bit ridiculous (and uncomfortable, I’d wager), but it’s hardly extreme or difficult or unlikely to succeed. In fact, suicide bombers have routinely employed this tactic with great success in Israel at checkpoints and shopping malls, and in Iraq and Afghanistan in similar environments – and this guy got onto an airplane! If anything, the underwear bomb is a step up on the “likelihood of success” scale from the box-cutters used by the 9/11 terrorists – and we know how that turned out. So if your argument is that the system “worked” because it has forced terrorists to change methods to their disadvantage, I’d say that this incident actually provides more evidence that the terrorists are freer to choose their tactics than ever. Maybe this incident was over-reported, maybe it wasn’t – but there is almost universal consensus that intelligence agencies had more than enough information at their disposal to prevent this plot from progressing to where it did. Napolitano was right to apologize and Obama was right to criticize her; our leaders should have the guts to say “Yes, we screwed up. It happens. But here’s how we’re going to make sure it won’t happen again.” Then, at the least, we’ll get to debate the merits of silly remedies like full body scanning.

  9. The posturing supporting the widespread use of body scanners has what should be a surprise to no one: an economic incentive. As a nation, we should carefully investigate the relationship between contractor, consultant and government officials.The quest for dollars obscures any serious discussion about public good.

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