The System Worked, Except That Part When It Failed

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The system is supposed to work, according to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, something like this: a man recently reported to U.S. authorities by his own father, who was on a terror watch list, who pays three grand in cash for a ticket to Detroit (enough to buy a city block in the Motor City), and who was denied a student visa to the United Kingdom, attempts to explode a bomb on a packed plane and is tackled by a Dutch filmmaker. Vindication of the stupid, bloated, counterproductive DHS security apparatus! Which, as has been pointed out in these very pages by Jesse Walker, is about to get even dumber and more irritating.

Today Napolitano backtracked, saying she had been taken out of context and that the system, in fact, failed:

Ms. Napolitano said Monday on NBC'S "Today" that her remark the day before — "the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days" — had been taken out of context. "Our system did not work in this instance," she said. "No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way."

Other notable backtracks in the past few days: The ever-reliable Michael Moore tweeted that it was a gang of tough Detroiters (probably union guys) that foiled the plot, forgetting that no one actually lives in Detroit anymore. He later clarified that the 60 pound Nigerian was pummeled by a flying Dutchman, but "Then Motown kicked in" by providing a runway for an emergency landing.

Lefty blogger Spencer Ackermann tweeted that "Some idiot set firecrackers off on a jet and were supposed to be afraid of that?" Well, yes we are. Because according to a report in today's New York Times, were he not foiled by a faulty detonator, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was carrying enough firecrackers to blow Flight 253 out of the sky.

In related news, Brian Ross of ABC News reports today that Abdulmutallab "told FBI agents there were more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon." Awesome.

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  1. Oh goody, can’t wait to see how they “fix” it so it won’t happen again

  2. Personally, I fear the government’s reaction to this incident far more than I fear being blown up on a plane. I’m not sure what that says about me.

    1. I’m not sure what that says about me.

      That you’re a reasonable person.

      1. Not really. Hmm.. blown up or padded down, which will it be?

        1. Chance of being padded down – 1 in 10

          Chance of being blown up – 1 in billion

          Pretty easy choice for me

          1. Yes, and if there was no padding down and no anti-terrorism laws, your chance of being blown out of the sky would be even higher. There must be some rules. It’s all about balancing it out. Then again, one blown up plane isn’t really acceptable is it?

    2. I’m a little of both. Frankly, I’m surprised this sort of thing hasn’t been tried more frequently.

    3. I feel exactly the same way.

  3. CNN now reports that al Queda has taken responsibility for the attack. Sorry no link, heard it in person a bit ago.

    1. Here is the CNN Article http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/…..index.html

    2. How desperate and relatively impotent must al Qaeda be these days if they’re rushing to take credit for a bungled failure of an attack?

      1. And what does it say about their availble suicide bomber recruiting if the Yemeni (poorest country in the middle east, and actively being bombed by Saudis with American help) have to recruit a Nigerian dude to carry out attacks?

        1. Hey, when folks stop falling for the old “Nigerian Prince needs to get his money out of the country” Email, what’s a guy to do?

      2. Bungled failure? I’d say it’s doing just what it was meant to do.

        1. I’m as cynical as anyone but the predictable over-reaction of the TSA is only an ironic, not intentional, “success” for those guys. If they really just wanted to scare us into this over-reaction I’d expect to see a lot more of these attempts than we do. It’s hard to really bring down a plane but easy to get caught planning attacks or attempting to smuggle explosives on board. So no, it didn’t do what it was meant to do.

      3. Setting your underwear on fire could easily cause impotentcy in a failed bombing attempt.

  4. Perhaps it says you understand statistics.

  5. Personally, I fear the government’s reaction to this incident far more than I fear being blown up on a plane.

    They’re deeply invested in the appearance of non-reaction. Because they’re cool like that. The stupid flight rules are all we’ll get. Something being done had to make the news, and that’s it.

    And not worrying about your plane blowing up is fine, but the fact that no one is very likely to get blown up on a plane is no reason to put known bomby dudes on planes. That’s what was done here.

    By the State Department. Not DHS.

    Napolitano is suicide-bombing the news.

  6. Here’s what I haven’t heard discussed yet… What can TSA or the DHS do about airport security abroad anyway? Given that this topic hasn’t come up, I assume that TSA has some authority when it comes to screening planes entering the U.S. However, the only security procedure I explicitly read about in newspaper accounts was the European restriction on liquids, which suggests to me that TSA’s rules didn’t even apply. Can anybody clear this up for me?

    1. Who’s interested in details?

    2. They can force people to stay in their seats for the last hour of the flight!

    3. You’re one of the few clear-thinking Americans left, ClubMedSux. You’re exactly right; DHS can start making everyone drop their pants and profile them based on their junk and it makes no damned difference who boards a flight in Amsterdam.

  7. Michael’s phrase “a faulty detonator” makes it sound like pure chance that the bomb did not go off. But the linked NYT article makes it sound more like stupidity on the bomber’s part. I take some comfort from the fact that the guy who is trying to kill me is not too bright.

    1. Take comfort in the fact that few of these jihadis are very bright, especially the top brass. All we can hope for at this point is that they remain romantic fools who are utterly fascinated with blowing up high-value, high profile targets in the air transportation sector.

      Imagine what will happen to the freedoms they hate us for when they realize they could merely threaten to attack targets across the U.S., constantly and continuously, actually leading to a destabilisation of the entire U.S. economy.

      1. Why is it always “they hate us for our freedoms,” not they hate us for something they think we’ve done. I thought bin Laden had some very specific complaints that had nothing to do with our freedoms.
        NOT suggesting that we reward terrorist behavior here.

        1. I’m assuming you didn’t pick up my snarkitudes on your snarkometer?

          Yes, I have a copy of, and have read Bin Laden’s “manifesto” if you will, against the United States and the western powers.

          There is an element of the ‘hating us for our freedoms’ but it’s largely a tangental. Our freedoms allow us to engage in certain decadent behaviors, those behaviors are held in disdain by Bin Laden, and certain south American leaders.

          But my point is, I’m making fun of the ‘hate us for our freedoms’ point.

          Surely you agree though, that if they did hate us for our freedoms, they won’t hate us much longer?

          1. Paul,

            I came up with a similar plan some years back, but for the IRA:

            Steal a car and blow it up in London’s financial district. Not a big bomb, and warn folks first to get away. Then 2 days later steal a car and park it nearby. Phone in the bomb threat. No bomb, just a threat.

            Financial district shuts for hours.

            Repeat every few days until they stop believing, then detonate another real bomb.

            Repeat until England gives up.

            1. Same thought here.

              I have always been amazed that after a threat they shut down the parking garages in front of airports.

              My thought has been why wouldn’t the terrorist start blowing up parking garages in the malls across america?

              It seems so silly to me that the only parking garages the terrorist would go after would be the ones at airports.

        2. Why is it always “they hate us for our freedoms,” not they hate us for something they think we’ve done.

          Because keeping track of 2,724,248 lies is hard enough already.

    2. I take some comfort from the fact that the guy who is trying to kill me is not too bright.

      Yeah, he’s almost half as stupid as Janet Napolitano.

      -jcr

  8. The important question is whether the bomber was incompetent or the bomb-maker.

    1. This isn’t really an important question, given that it’s probably easy for them to find smarter versions of both.

      1. Oh really? If it’s so easy to find competent terrorists, why hasn’t there been a single plane brought down by a bomb in the United States in the last… well… has it ever happened?

    2. Hard to say. You would think the bomb maker tested his design a few times.

      If that worked he may have had an implimentation that was faulty, as in difficult for others to learn.

      On the other hand, he could have had a sloppy design that only works in the lab (lair?)

      Getting to the incompetant terrorist would mean that the garage-made bomb was fine, he just couldn’t figure out to give it a shot of juice in his shorts.

  9. We already know how air transportation changed forever and ever, amen, because of one guy who tried to light his shoes on fire with a bic lighter. I can’t wait to see the security screening procedures after the next jihadi smuggles in an explosive rammed up his rectum.

  10. FUCK flying… i’m so done with that shit.

    it’s going to get to the point where no carry-ons are allowed and you have to put on a hospital gown before you board

    1. then when the turrists start implanting bombs, the only answer will be to randomly have the bomb squad explode people to insure they’re not carrying a bomb

      1. Tough, but sensible.

        1. I think it’s worth sacrificing a non-essential liberty, such as not being blown up by the bomb squad, to keep us safe from terrorists.

  11. It really is security theater of the absurd. Bumbling idiots trying to bring down a plane and other bumbling idiots trying to stop them. There’s a comedy movie in there somewhere.

    1. Yeah, execpt we are the idiots stuck in the middle. A comedy movie is funnier when you are watching, and not being a part of it.

  12. I know! Let’s bomb Yemen! What could possibly go wrong?

    1. We might accidentally set our pants on fire.

      1. Ah ha ha ha, word. That’s what fools get for lyin’.

    2. Yes, with a well placed atomic bomb there we could probably do tens of dollars worth of damage.

      1. Racist… but very funny never the less.

        1. Are the Yemni a race?

      2. True. 90% of the people I know don’t even know what Yemen is, let alone where it is. If no one knows about it, they can’t notice it’s been turned to glass and glowing camels.

        Also, I must note that most of those people are products of the public education system.

  13. Because according to a report in today’s New York Times, were he not foiled by a faulty detonator, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was carrying enough firecrackers to blow Flight 253 out of the sky.

    I’m going to need a reliable source on that one, Michael.

    1. The question being, Mr. Dean:

      Will it be to the TSA’s and the DHS’s advantage to play up the damage potential of the explosive, or play it down?

      1. It depends on whether they view it as an opportunity for empire-building, or a threat to their careers.

        1. Ah but isn’t that the basic goal of of any good bureaucrat — turning a career threat into empire building? Being able to take an abject failure (even failure in an impossible or worthless task) and show how it demonstrates the need for greater resources and increased authority is what separates the professional bureaucrats from the amateur hacks.

  14. Top 10 DHS security upgrades:

    10. When checking in for flight, counter person will ask: “Are you here to blow up the plane?”

    9. Deployment of newly developed DHS “Intestine-O-scope”. Like a thermometer, you can use it from either end.

    8. All passengers must wear shorts.

    7. Complete ban on boxers: tightey whiteys only.

    6. Double down on Grandma detentions at the gate.

    5. Fly all TSA managers to Vegas for weekend emergency conference.

    4. Replace in flight movie with in flight enema.

    3. Float planes across the ocean on big barges.

    2. Bags go on seats, people get piled up together in hold.

    1. Turn over management of NO FLY list to Facebook.

    1. I quote myself from the past:

      There are several alternatives to the TSA:

      (1) Render all passengers unconscious for the duration of the flight;

      (2) Require all passengers to travel nude; or

      (3) Make all passengers wear a device that can shock them into unconsciousness, operated from the cockpit.

      1. (2) Require all passengers to travel nude

        Not so bad if the flight is full of coeds heading to Cancun for spring break, but if you think it’s bad now watching that fat guy squeeze down the aisle heading for that empty seat next to you… well, I shudder to think.

        1. To address your concerns, the airlines will be renting full-immersion, virtual reality helmets that will provide passengers with an alternative flying experience. The income from this will transform the airlines into a very profitable industry, particularly once porn is introduced.

          Another option I forgot to mention is to convert the cabins into rows of Japanese-style capsule hotels. By doing that, the nudity will be invisible to all but the flight attendants.

  15. How big was this bomb?

    Don’t forget- Aloha Airlines flight 243 suffered massive damage to its fuselage, and was able to fly to an airport and land.

    Unless the bomber is sufficiently knowledgeable about the airplane (and perhaps not even then) to detonate his bomb in exactly the right spot, it’s possible that he will not bring the plane down.

    Not pretty, but potentially survivable.

    1. With PETN it wouldn’t need to be very large in size. Apparently he was seated over the wing so he was in the right place. If he attempted to detonate the explosive in his poop chute his body would have significantly dampened the shock wave. This is known because it wouldn’t be the first time a suicide bomber opted for a corn-hole charge.

      Maybe instead of harrassing more old blind deaf women in wheelchairs as a response this time they could do something constructive instead, like putting some corpses in old airliner fuselages then detonating various explosives in their rectums, you know, just to see what happens.

      1. That sounds like a job for The Mythbusters!

  16. Ok, well, now Pharaoh Obama I has “cause” to put the US on yet another war to distract Boobus Americanus from the issues, now against Yemen of all places . . .

    1. Yemen? Sure, the would-be terrorist was from there but he’s got bigger fish to fry. I think the next target on Obama’s invasion list is Texas and then the Fox News headquarters.

  17. I think it’s worth sacrificing a non-essential liberty, such as not being blown up by the bomb squad, to keep us safe from terrorists.

    All state-mandated welfare enhancements are beneficial. And desirable.

  18. Uh, oh. I just read something that suggests that a couple of the al Qaeda leaders behind this in Yemen were former detainees at Guantanamo.

    1. By the Flaming Balls of Umar! This cannot be true!

      1. The catch and release strategy in action.

        1. Obama’s or Bush’s?

          1. There’s a difference?

          2. Bush’s. If they were Obama’s they’d be released in Illinois.

      2. I’d have to assume that all former detainees at Guantanamo now hate the U.S.
        I know I would.

        1. Which, of course, is a very interesting question. Were the guys released hardcore terrorists to begin with? Probably, but what if they weren’t?

          1. There’s a difference?

            i.e.

            Citizen Nothing|12.28.09 @ 3:41PM|#

            I’d have to assume that all former detainees at Guantanamo now hate the U.S.
            I know I would.

            1. That’s my point, too.

        2. Such a shame. Before they spent time getting fattened up in the sunny Carribean, they loved us ever so much.

  19. When Janet Napolitano said the system works, she meant she would be able to parlay this event into a giant budget increase.

    1. She’ll get several European offices.

  20. [DHS headperson Janet] Napolitano said Monday on NBC’S “Today” that her remark the day before ? “the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days”

    Don’t be so hard on Ms. Napolitano, she was saying something that is 100% accurate – the system worked perfectly, in that:

    a) It gives Boobus Americanus a psychological security blanket from our friend, the Government.
    b) It gives tax-paid jobs (through TSA) to subnormal and nitwits that could otherwise not make the same amount of money on the private sector.
    c) It gives an opportunity to molesters and peepers to actually profit from their enjoyment (using “body searches” as the excuse.)
    d) It allows the Gun-Vermin-int to yet again come up with another “reason” for its existence.

    So far, 4 out of 4! So where was Ms. Napolitano lying???

    1. “the system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days”

      She is talking about the part when nobody was trying to blow up a plane.

      1. “Brownie you’re doing a heckuva job.”

  21. The system worked before it didn’t work. Isn’t that the way it is supposed to be. Plus, it was Allah’s will, praise his holy name. He was out of virgins and this had to be postponed. Gotta get back to the boss. He is working on what the meaning of the word is “is,” and we are trying to get this on his teleprompter.

  22. Another option I forgot to mention is to convert the cabins into rows of Japanese-style capsule hotels. By doing that, the nudity will be invisible to all but the flight attendants.

    Admit it. You just want the “workman’s comp” business this will generate.

  23. That’s not my practice area, though it sounds like a good one to move into. Right after I finish accumulating my first billion for the capsule idea. Wonder what DHS would pay for a nude passenger program and draft bill? At least a couple hundred million, right?

  24. Will national healthcare cover checking colons for PETN?

  25. I expect the TSA to begin placing cameras in all aircraft lavatories, strictly in the interest of “enhanced security”. I also expect much of the footage generated to find its way onto the internet.

  26. In related news, Brian Ross of ABC News reports today that Abdulmutallab “told FBI agents there were more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.”

    Why am I thinking that such revelations from this guy will translate into ever MORE hassle, MORE time wasted and LESS efficiency during security checks at the airport?

    Osama won the war. It is just that nobody here has raised the white flag yet…

    Pussies.

    1. Well, I guess I did not have to wait long:

      Travellers on incoming international flights said that during the final hour, attendants removed blankets, banned opening overhead bins, and told passengers to stay in their seats with their hands in plain sight.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/us/27security.html

      These restrictions were relaxed once they became known:

      DALLAS ? In-flight security rules have been eased after a two-day clampdown, airline officials familiar with the matter said Monday.

      At the captain’s discretion, passengers can once again have blankets and other items on their laps or move about the cabin during the tail end of flight. In-flight entertainment restrictions have also been lifted.

      The airline officials spoke on condition of anonymity because federal safety officials had not publicly announced the changes.

      Security rules were relaxed in the last 24 hours, one official said.

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/200….._tolerance

      Looks like DHS is being managed by the keystone cops…

  27. Am I the only one who thinks they should hand over national security alerts to the Vegas casinos and open it up for betting? I would feel much more comfortable getting on a plane if I could check the betting lines.

  28. Morbrilliant.

  29. Meanwhile, the pointless scrutiny of such terroristic threats as FairTax activists will continue…

  30. The explosive, if it was PETN as reported, was hardly “firecracker” material. Pentaerythrite Tetranitrate (PETN) is extremely sensitive and is one of the most powerful military explosives just slightly more powerful than RDX the explosive used to make Composition C4. Sitting where he was seated, and depending on how much he had keistered, and to a degree if the quantity was small whether he detonated it in his bung hole or against the inside of the fuselage, the potential to down the aircraft was certainly there.

    That being said, surely we will pay the price when we fly and that Janet Napolitano, my former governor, damn that woman is dumb. If Obama has any brains he’ll lock her in the attic with Biden before she says anything else brilliant. On second thought better lock her in the basement, the last thing this world needs is a gaggle of Biden-Napolitano love babies.

  31. I did not expect to see this kind of bedwetting on Hit & Run. Well, maybe I did expect to. But I didn’t want to.

  32. The ever-reliable Michael Moore tweeted that it was a gang of tough Detroiters (probably union guys) that foiled the plot, forgetting that no one actually lives in Detroit anymore.

    I’m thinking every time Moore gives a speech, it should be intercut with footage of Detroit. Like visual proof of what union thuggery can do to an entire state.

    And this guy got his start attacking the evil GM for being too greedy.

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