Tuesday, December 21, 2010
The Only Threats Have Come From International Travel, So What Is DHS Doing?
Grandmas do not get frisked outside the USA
I’m an American...still. I live part of the year in the USA but most of the year in Chile. I travel a lot on business, throughout the US when I’m there and throughout Latin America when I’m home. I have to go through airport security between thirty and forty times a year, divided more or less evenly between Latin America and US security procedures. The comparison between the two is interesting. The comparison between the two shows that all the American security theatre is a waste of time and money and a completely useless imposition on American travelers.
Before continuing on, I need to make an important point that is ignored by American mainstream media. The hijacking of 4 airliners on 9/11 was a perfect failure of American intelligence. It was not a failure of airport security, it was an astronomical lack of foresight and communication between different branches of the government. The intelligence agencies knew that there was a plot to hijack airliners and use them as bombs against important American buildings, including the World Trade Center. But the CIA and the FBI never communicated with the FAA in order to change airline crew procedures in the case of hijacking. The airline crews on 9/11 did what they were trained to do. They put up no resistance to the hijackers and gave them control of the airplanes. 9/11 would not have happened if it were not for the ponderous size and culture of secrecy in the US government. If the FBI and CIA had published the Yousef plan of using airliners as bombs, 9/11 would not have, could not have happened. If they had talked to the FAA it could not have happened. Our stupid rules and stupid inter-agency secrecy were used against us.
The crimes of 9/11 were planned by Ramsey Yousef, the planner of the first World Trade Center bombing, in the early 1990s. The CIA and FBI had those plans as early as 1994. They knew that Khalid Sheik Mohammed was associated with Yousef and that he was involved in the planning to hijack airliners and use them as bombs to destroy targets in America. They knew that Osama bin Laden was associated with Khalid Sheik Mohammed. Given that Yousef was involved in the first World Trade Center bombing, it would make sense that the airliner plan was going to target the WTC again. Take a look at Peter Lance’s very complete “Terror Time Line” scroll down to 16 September 1994. Also read James Bamford’s “The Shadow Factory” that shows how totally pathetic the American Intelligence operations were in the run-up to 9/11. Here’s an interview with Bamford in which he details some of the criminally pathetic failings of American intelligence that made 9/11 possible. Security procedures were not the problem. The problem was airline crew procedures and the lack of a stout door on airliners. Given the intelligence that the government had and the money that they spend, those errors are almost unexplainable.
So 9/11 was NOT caused by faulty security procedures, it was caused by perfectly incompetent intelligence, communication and FAA mandated procedures. And since 9/11, every single terrorist threat involving airliners has come from a flight that originated outside the USA. Richard Reed, the shoe bomber, boarded American Airlines flight 63 in Paris with destination in Miami. The underwear bomber boarded Northwest Flight 253 in Amsterdam destined for Detroit. The 2006 liquid bomb plot was planned to board ten airliners in the UK, destined for the USA. The recent toner bomb attempt was an air cargo placed onboard an airliner in Yemen with destination in the USA. None of the incidents of possible airliner terrorism since 9/11 have been attempted on flights that originated in the USA.
So if 9/11 was an intelligence and governmental communications failure, and if all subsequent airline terrorism attempts were initiated outside the USA, why has the DHS spent so much money irritating so many Americans in American airports? Is that same level of scrutiny being applied to travelers that initiate their flights outside the USA? Here I will speak from my own experience. In the last twelve months I have flown internationally out of Lima, Peru - Santiago de Chile - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Santa Cruz, Bolivia - La Paz, Bolivia - Quito, Ecuador - Bogotá, Colombia - San José, Costa Rica - Panama City, Panama - Tegucigalpa, Honduras - Ciudad de México, México and Punta Cana, República Dominicana. I have flown out of many of these airports multiple times.
In the twenty-five or thirty international flights out of these airports I have had to remove my shoes once. That was in Punta Cana, which is a tourist town where 95% of the travelers are American or European tourists. I have been asked to take my computer out of my briefcase twice: once in Punta Cana and another time in Lima, although on many other flights out of Lima, I was not requested to remove my computer. I do not remove my belt with its big buckle in Latin American airports, except in Punta Cana, which is basically an extension of the USA. The buckle almost never sets off the metal detector alarm, but on the three occasions that it has (Santiago and Lima) I was cursorily wanded and waved along. At no time did anyone every touch my body. There are no porno scanners in Latin American airports. At no time except in Punta Cana and Ciudad de México did anyone ever look in any of my carry-ons after they were scanned. A travelers tip: watch very closely what the “security agents” in México do with your carry-ons. Briefcases often have the contents checked in México. If they contain anything small and valuable, that may just magically disappear.
Bottom line, I could have carried anything that I wanted on a plane bound for the USA, and the danger to airliners comes from flights that originate outside the USA. The DHS has tried to coerce Latin American countries to apply tougher screening procedures, but they don’t do it. And why should they? The danger is almost non-existent. It is all theatre and the latinos have decided that don’t have any desire to star in those performances. God bless them.
All the airline terrorism incidents have occurred in flights originating outside the USA and security procedures have hardly changed outside the USA, at least in Latin America. So all that the DHS is doing is to feed a pointless, humiliating bureaucracy that violates everyone's Constitutional rights at the cost of the US traveler and taxpayer. DHS security theatre is a performance that is waiting for the final curtain to come down.