Bad News and More Bad News about the Underwear Bomb Terror Plot
Would TSA scanners have caught the non-metallic underwear bomb at the center of the latest Al Qaeda plot? That was the discussion late last week and over the weekend, after the public learned of the planned attack via the Associated Press, which learned about it from an anonymous leaker who now may well go to jail.
The ex-TSA chief who bought the scanners says yes, because of course he does. A Congressman who routinely bashes TSA says no, because of course he does. But "candidly, no" was also the answer given by Senator Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, who would know. And the consensus of experts also seems to be that scanners would have missed the bomb.
Meanwhile there are good reasons to believe that more underwear bombs are in the wild and that a "wave of plane attacks" might be on the horizon. Happy Monday!
Of course the huge debate we're having over scanners might be totally irrelevant. As with the last underwear bomber, the plan was to board a US-bound plane overseas. TSA scannerseven if many of them weren't sitting unused in a warehouse, which they are, because TSA is mindblowingly inefficientwould never have had a chance at the guy.
That said, the attack was still in its early stagesthe bomber hadn't even bought a plane ticket yetand Western intelligence services had been tracking it since April. So there was no immediate risk. But the leak to the Associated Press compromised intelligence efforts to infiltrate Al Qaeda, so now the U.S. is left just kind of hoping to try to kill the bomb-maker.
It's like that scene from Ghostbusters: "that was your whole plan ... 'get her'?" Except without the part where it's funny.
[Photo: quinn.anya / Flickr]