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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When smart people in high places make dumb decisions someone is likely to die

One news story from late last year that seems to have gotten very little attention in the media is the one about the United States preventing authorities in the Netherlands from installing body scanners before the would-be suicide bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, passed through security at Amsterdam’s airport.

According to the Times Online story:

“The Dutch claimed that they had been trying to install the machines for flights to the US since 2008 but had been blocked by US officials who wanted passengers to all destinations screened. …

“The two countries were at a deadlock over their [body scanners] installation because the US didn't want them exclusively for American bound flights.

“But since the Christmas Day incident the ‘whole spectrum has changed’ and US authorities have now agreed for the millimetre wave scanners to be introduced only for American flights.”

This strikes me as one of those political-correctness-gone-mad stories we hear about all too frequently these days. To think that American officials would put their citizens and others at risk because of their hubris. Wouldn’t it have been in the interests of U.S. residents to have allowed the scanners to be installed in 2008—as the Dutch wanted—for flights to the U.S. and continue to negotiate with the Dutch to have the practice extended to other flights? Apparently not, if you’re in charge of U.S. security.

Those who live in the United States and nearby would be better served by less national hubris on the part of senior officials of that country and more adeptly applied preventative security measures rather than the knee-jerk crack-down on passenger luggage.

Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in its approach to Detroit, Michigan on Christmas Day almost certainly flew over Canadian soil so we Canadians have shin in this game. The U.S. ambassador could properly be asked why Canadian lives were so recklessly placed at risk so that U.S. officials could exercise their arrogance at the expense of airline security.

Certainly the key to preventing airplanes from being exploded in mid-flight is to stop potential bombers from boarding planes. People explode bombs, not luggage. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had the bomb on his person, not in his luggage.

When at war, one needs to be a quick learner—apparently U.S. security officials are not. They are all very smart people, I’ve not doubt about that. But when it comes to this war on terror, they seem to be awfully slow learners. God help us all.

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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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