What About Holding People Accountable?

Clarice Feldman
The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration has responded to the aborted bombing of a NW Airlines plane in Detroit with its usual inanity: make the passengers suffer more, in this case by forcing inbound international flight passengers to remain seated a full hour before planes are due to land. As the attempted bomber was sitting at the time of the event, it is hard to imagine what, if anything, TSA is thinking of, except perhaps that passengers are stupid enough to continue to believe such measures provide any security at all.

I have another idea: Let's start holding people in the responsible bureaucracies accountable for their negligence.

As the events are uncovered it appears we knew for at least 6 months that this man was a security threat. His father said he told the U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria that his son was a threat and should be banned from entering the US.

And our response? His name on the passenger manifest was cleared for entry:

American security agencies reviewed the passenger list for Northwest Airlines flight 253 before it left Amsterdam for Detroit on Christmas day and informed the airline that the flight was cleared to take off for the U.S., a Dutch government spokeswoman tells NEWSWEEK.
 
Judith Sluyter, spokeswoman for the NCTB, the office of Holland's national counter-terrorism coordinator, said that before Flight 253 left Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the passenger list was transmitted in full to U.S. authorities for review. Under procedures negotiated between the United States and various foreign countries, U.S. agencies -- particularly an interagency "Terrorist Screening Center" run by the FBI with input from others including the Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community -- are supposed to run the names through American counter-terrorism databases to see if any would-be passengers present potential threat.
 In the case of Flight 253, U.S. authorities informed the airline before the flight took off that the passenger list did not reveal any threats which would prevent the plane from taking off, according to Sluyter, and so the flight left Amsterdam for Detroit.

We fired no one for 9/11. We fired no one for Ft. Hood. If no one is fired for this snafu and instead citizens are instead put to even more pointless inconvenience, heads higher up than these ought to roll.

Update:

I am not the only person shaking my head at the thought this man was issued a visitor's visa. A thorough investigation is called for. From the UK Independent:


The revelation of Abdulmutallab's background has confounded terror experts. Dr Magnus Ranstorp of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, said that the attempted bombing "didn't square".
"On the one hand, it seems he's been on the terror watch list but not on the no-fly list," he said. "That doesn't square because the American Department for Homeland Security has pretty stringent data-mining capability. I don't understand how he had a valid visa if he was known on the terror watch list. [snip]
A source said Dr Mutallab was "devastated" at the news but also "surprised" his son had been allowed to travel after he had reported him to the authorities. Abdulmutallab had allegedly become noted for his extreme religious views when he was at the British International School in Togo, where he is said to have preached Islam to his friends.
An official briefing on the attack said the US had known for at least two years that the suspect could have terrorist ties. Abdulmutallab has been on a list that included people with known or suspected contacts or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organisation. The list is maintained by the US National Counterterrorism Center and includes about 550,000 names.[/quote]
 

 
The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration has responded to the aborted bombing of a NW Airlines plane in Detroit with its usual inanity: make the passengers suffer more, in this case by forcing inbound international flight passengers to remain seated a full hour before planes are due to land. As the attempted bomber was sitting at the time of the event, it is hard to imagine what, if anything, TSA is thinking of, except perhaps that passengers are stupid enough to continue to believe such measures provide any security at all.

I have another idea: Let's start holding people in the responsible bureaucracies accountable for their negligence.

As the events are uncovered it appears we knew for at least 6 months that this man was a security threat. His father said he told the U.S. Embassy officials in Nigeria that his son was a threat and should be banned from entering the US.

And our response? His name on the passenger manifest was cleared for entry:

American security agencies reviewed the passenger list for Northwest Airlines flight 253 before it left Amsterdam for Detroit on Christmas day and informed the airline that the flight was cleared to take off for the U.S., a Dutch government spokeswoman tells NEWSWEEK.
 
Judith Sluyter, spokeswoman for the NCTB, the office of Holland's national counter-terrorism coordinator, said that before Flight 253 left Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, the passenger list was transmitted in full to U.S. authorities for review. Under procedures negotiated between the United States and various foreign countries, U.S. agencies -- particularly an interagency "Terrorist Screening Center" run by the FBI with input from others including the Homeland Security Department and the intelligence community -- are supposed to run the names through American counter-terrorism databases to see if any would-be passengers present potential threat.
 In the case of Flight 253, U.S. authorities informed the airline before the flight took off that the passenger list did not reveal any threats which would prevent the plane from taking off, according to Sluyter, and so the flight left Amsterdam for Detroit.

We fired no one for 9/11. We fired no one for Ft. Hood. If no one is fired for this snafu and instead citizens are instead put to even more pointless inconvenience, heads higher up than these ought to roll.

Update:

I am not the only person shaking my head at the thought this man was issued a visitor's visa. A thorough investigation is called for. From the UK Independent:


The revelation of Abdulmutallab's background has confounded terror experts. Dr Magnus Ranstorp of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defence College, said that the attempted bombing "didn't square".
"On the one hand, it seems he's been on the terror watch list but not on the no-fly list," he said. "That doesn't square because the American Department for Homeland Security has pretty stringent data-mining capability. I don't understand how he had a valid visa if he was known on the terror watch list. [snip]
A source said Dr Mutallab was "devastated" at the news but also "surprised" his son had been allowed to travel after he had reported him to the authorities. Abdulmutallab had allegedly become noted for his extreme religious views when he was at the British International School in Togo, where he is said to have preached Islam to his friends.
An official briefing on the attack said the US had known for at least two years that the suspect could have terrorist ties. Abdulmutallab has been on a list that included people with known or suspected contacts or ties to a terrorist or terrorist organisation. The list is maintained by the US National Counterterrorism Center and includes about 550,000 names.[/quote]