THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

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Volume XII, Issue # 3, January 6, 2010
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
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  World War IV: Islamist Terror War Against the U.S.A. & the West

SECURITY THEATER NOW PLAYING AT YOUR AIRPORT
By Dr. Daniel Pipes

ISLAMIST TERRORISM & TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ON INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES: AIRLINES SECURITY PROCEDURES & THEIR IMPACT ON HOMELAND SECURITY IN THE U.S.A. & OTHER WESTERN COUNTRIES -- ANXIETY IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE TRAGEDY THAT NEARLY OCCURRED ON NORTHWEST AIRLINES FLIGHT 253 AS IT WAS APPROACHING THE DETROIT-METROPOLITAN WAYNE COUNTY AIRPORT ON DECEMBER 25, 2009
FULL STORY:   As hands are wrung in the aftermath of the near-tragedy on a Northwest Airlines flight approaching Detroit, a conversation from London's Heathrow airport in 1986 comes to mind.

It consisted of an El Al security agent quizzing one Ann-Marie Doreen Murphy, a 32-year-old recent arrival in London from Sallynoggin, Ireland. While working as a chambermaid at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, Murphy met Nizar al-Hindawi, a Far-Leftist Palestinian who impregnated her. After instructing her to "get rid of the thing," he abruptly changed his tune and insisted on immediate marriage in "the Holy Land." He also insisted on their traveling separately.

Murphy, later described by the Prosecutor as a "simple, unsophisticated Irish lass and a Catholic," accepted unquestioningly Hindawi's arrangements for her to fly to Israel on El Al on April 17. She also accepted a wheeled suitcase with, unbeknown to her, a false bottom containing nearly 2 kilograms of Semtex, a powerful plastic explosive, and she agreed to be coached by him to answer questions posed by airport security.

Murphy successfully passed through the standard Heathrow security inspection and reached the gate with her bag, where an El Al agent questioned her. As reconstructed by Neil C. Livingstone and David Halevy in Washingtonian magazine, he started by asking whether she had packed her bags herself. She replied in the negative. Then:

"What is the purpose of your trip to Israel?" Recalling Hindawi's instructions, Murphy answered, "For a vacation."

"Are you married, Miss Murphy?" "No."

"Traveling alone?" "Yes."

"Is this your first trip abroad?" "Yes."

"Do you have relatives in Israel?" "No."

"Are you going to meet someone in Israel?" "No.

"Has your vacation been planned for a long time?" "No."

"Where will you stay while you're in Israel?" "The Tel Aviv Hilton."

"How much money do you have with you?" "Fifty pounds." The Hilton at that time costing at least 70 a night, he asked:

"Do you have a credit card?" "Oh, yes," she replied, showing him an ID for cashing checks.

That did it, and the agent sent her bag for additional inspection, where the bombing apparatus was discovered.

Had El Al followed the usual Western security procedures, 375 lives would surely have been lost somewhere over Austria. The bombing plot came to light, in other words, through a non-technical intervention, relying on conversation, perception, common sense, and (yes) profiling. The agent focused on the passenger, not the weaponry. Israeli counterterrorism takes passengers' identities into account; accordingly, Arabs endure an especially tough inspection. "In Israel, security comes first," David Harris of the American Jewish Committee explains.

Obvious as this sounds, overconfidence, political correctness, and legal liability render such an approach impossible anywhere else in the West. In the United States, for example, one month after 9/11, the Department of Transportation issued guidelines forbidding its personnel from generalizing "about the propensity of members of any racial, ethnic, religious, or national origin group to engage in unlawful activity." (Wear a hijab, I semi-jokingly advise women wanting to avoid secondary screening at airport security.)

Worse yet, consider the panicky Mickey-Mouse and embarrassing steps the U.S. Transportation Security Administration implemented hours after the Detroit bombing attempt: no crew announcements "concerning flight path or position over cities or landmarks," and disabling all passenger communications services. During a flight's final hour, passengers may not stand up, access carry-on baggage, nor "have any blankets, pillows, or personal belongings on the lap."

Some crews went yet further, keeping cabin lights on throughout the night, while turning off the in-flight entertainment, prohibiting all electronic devices, and, during the final hour, requiring passengers to keep hands visible and neither eat nor drink. Things got so bad, the Associated Press reports, "A demand by one attendant that no one could read anything elicited gasps of disbelief and howls of laughter."

Widely criticized for these Clouseau-like measures, the Transportation Safety Agency eventually decided to add "enhanced screening" for travelers passing through or originating from fourteen "countries of interest" as though one's choice of departure airport indicates a propensity for suicide bombing.

The TSA engages in "security theater" bumbling pretend-steps that treat all passengers equally rather than risk offending anyone by focusing, say, on religion. The alternative approach is Israelification, defined by Toronto's Star newspaper as "a system that protects life and limb without annoying you to death."

Which do we want theatrics or safety?


January 6, 2010, update: I lacked space in the column to play out this ultimate scenario: What if a very large group of hijackers gets on a plane, enough of them so that, with muscle alone no knives, guns, or bombs they overpower the passengers and crew? What if they threaten the pilots to strangle one person after another until the plane comes under their control? No amount of technology can prevent such a scenario; only scrutiny of who is getting aboard can do so.

And, while there has been no such large group, "Those Fourteen Syrians on Northwest Airlines Flight #327" represented a possible step in that direction.


Daniel Pipes 2010
Originally Published in the Jerusalem Post
Republished with the Permission of Daniel Pipes
Reprinted from the Daniel Pipes Mailing List, January 6, 2010
Article URL: http://www.danielpipes.org/7866/airport-security-theater


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
Islamist Terrorism & American Homeland Security

Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three    Page Two    Page One

International Politics & World Disorder:
War & Peace in the Real World

   Page Two    Page One

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security

U.S. National Security Strategy

American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East

Israel & the Arabs -- The Israeli-Arab Conflict


Dr. Daniel Pipes, a Ph.D. in Islamic History (Harvard University, 1978), is Founder and Director of the Middle East Forum, Founder of Campus Watch, Taube Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University, a signatory of the Project for the New American Century, a former board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, a former adjunct scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Golden Circle supporter of the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, a former member of the U.S. Department of Defense Special Task Force on Terrorism and Technology, and a former lecturer at the U.S. Naval War College, Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Pipes was the Director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute from 1986 to 1993. Dr. Pipes has super-elite status at two airlines.

Author or co-author of eighteen books, Dr. Pipes is a regular columnist for Front Page Magazine, the New York Sun, and the Jerusalem Post. His analyses of world trends and of forces and developments in the Middle East have appeared in numerous North American newspapers, including the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He frequently appears on American network television, as well as at universities and think tanks, to discuss the Middle East, Islam, and the Islamist threat to the U.S.A. and the West. He also has appeared on BBC and Al Jazeera, and has lectured in approximately twenty-five countries.

Dr. Pipes is a Polish-American Jew whose parents fled Poland in 1939, immigrated to the U.S.A., and assimilated well into American society and culture. His father is Richard Pipes, an American historian specializing in Russian and Soviet history and serving as Professor of History at Harvard University from 1950 until his retirement in 1996. During the Cold War, the worldview of Richard Pipes was strongly anti-Soviet and anti-Communist.




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