System to Protect Air Travelers Is Broken

Latest attempt reveals fundamental flaws, Eugene Robinson writes
By Sarah Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2009 10:27 AM CST
This photo released by the US Marshal's Service shows Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23.   (AP Photo/U.S. Marshal's Service)
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(Newser) – The attempted Christmas Day airliner attack reveals deep flaws in the security systems meant to prevent such incidents, Eugene Robinson writes in the Washington Post. We're "under the impression that removing our shoes at the airport and limiting ourselves to those tiny, trial-size containers of toothpaste…are enough," he writes. But clearly that isn't the case. We need to take advantage of higher-tech screening techniques like body imaging and chemical-sniffing machines, he writes.

But then again, in the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, "the system seems to have malfunctioned well before" he got to the airport. Despite being on a watch list, Abdulmutallab kept his US visa and was allowed to board the Detroit-bound plane. But perhaps even more worrisome are signs that as we focus our military might on Afghanistan, al-Qaeda is growing in places like Yemen and Somalia. "I can't escape the uneasy feeling that we're fighting, and escalating, the last war—while the enemy fights the next one," Robinson writes.

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