Saturday, January 02, 2010

PARTY LINES: What does the recent terrorist attack say about U.S. security? By Rob Miller - Utah Democrat

On Christmas Day, a passenger on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 (en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands to Detroit) allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body setting off a fire as the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Because of this incident the Clipper has asked the following: What does this foiled attack indicate about our national security? Has the government become lax on terrorism? Do security measures need to be beefed up or is this just an example that every threat cannot be stopped? And, who is responsible and what should be done next?

On Dec. 29, 2009, President Obama said that preliminary information has surfaced that raises some concerns, with one of those concerns being that the father of the suspect warned U.S. officials in Africa about his son’s extremist views but that that warning was not effectively distributed to get the suspect’s name on the no-fly list.

President Obama also stated that there were other deficiencies as well, that even without the report from the suspect’s father warning there were bits of information available that could have and should have been pieced together. President Obama went on to state that had this critical [information] been shared it could have been compiled with other intelligence and a fuller, clearer picture of the suspect would have emerged. “The warning signs would have triggered red flags, and the suspect would have never been allowed to board that plane for America.”

I don’t believe that our government has become lax on terrorism as it is obvious that we have come along way since the 9-11 attacks. Approximately a dozen acts of terrorism have been made this last year that were foiled due to the security measures our government has put into place.

Let’s also point out that our president immediately ordered the following actions to ensure the safety of travelers.

First, he made sure that all flights still in the air were secure and could land safely. He immediately enhanced screening and security procedures for all flights, domestic and international. He added federal air marshals to flights entering and leaving the United States.

Second, he ordered two important reviews because it’s absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism. The first review involves the watch list system to identify known and suspected terrorists to prevent their entry into the United States by strengthening how information is shared between agencies. The second review will examine all screening policies, technologies and procedures related to travel.

President Obama also said, “We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle, and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us.”

As to who is to blame, well, we don’t blame crime on the police and ultimately it is the individuals involved in organizing terrorist attacks against our citizenry who must bear this cross of accountability.

No matter what precautions we take there are those who want to destroy our nation, but as President Obama said, “The American people should remain vigilant, but also be confident.” And, we should be grateful for the women and men who work daily to keep us safe.

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