Get your political fix from an unrepentant political junkie.
March 17, 2016
When terrorists have plotted to blow up an airplane, their usual tactics were to pack bombs in carry-on luggage, shoes, or underwear. They have yet to tuck explosives inside a woman’s brassiere, a man’s front pants pocket, or use the elderly, handicapped, or children in their plots.
One failed plot in 2009 to blow up a plane flying from Amsterdam to the U.S. included an explosive hidden in the Nigerian terrorist’s underwear, which Amsterdam security failed to detect. The terrorist’s clothes caught fire instead of the powder explosive, because the carrier had worn the underwear for at least two weeks, soiling the explosive. Just months prior, a Somali terrorist was caught with an identical explosive, syringe, and chemicals in his luggage while boarding a plane from Mogadishu to Dubai.
The engineer of these two explosives has developed a new kind of explosive. Al Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, led by Ibrahim al-Asiri, are developing “body bombs,” surgically implanted improvised explosive devices (S.I.I.E.D.), which require the carrier to inject a detonating chemical into themselves to trigger the bombs, similar to the detonation method for the explosive in the case of the Underwear Bomber.
According to British aviation security expert Chris Yates, “a body scanner would not penetrate deep enough to detect devices like these,” nor would pat-downs and metal detectors discover these body bombs. The idea is that the bombs would be implanted in a fatty section of the torso, but they have yet to invent a successful detonation device. The detection of these types of bombs would rely on visually identifying abnormally large or strangely shaped bulges on a person, followed by bomb-sniffing dogs or swabbing for chemical residue.
Security consultants continue to adapt security measures, moving away from prescribed procedures and focusing on risk-assessment and outcomes. What that means in plain speak is that randomly selecting travellers for body searches and pat-downs would be eliminated. For constitutional reasons, as well as human decency, we are all for that, especially considering that the T.S.A. has yet to discover one plot to hijack or bomb a plane or otherwise endanger others. T.S.A. proudly announces when they have arrested a suspicious person, but no terrorists or attempted plots have been discovered.
How far do we allow T.S.A. officials to violate our privacy in the name of protecting us? Law enforcement is accustomed to constitutional searches. They know how to interview a suspect and, if necessary, search the suspect. Law enforcement and investigators do not randomly select citizens and visitors to the U.S. and search them just in case one of them is plotting a terrorist attack. That would be insanely unconstitutional, and, yet, we allow it in airports.
If a terrorist is plotting an attack, it is practically impossible that an elderly woman or man or a child is capable of carrying it out. It is also highly unlikely that a woman dressed in snug pants and a tank top is hiding a bomb.
A five-ounce pouch of explosive powder, accompanied by a tube, syringe, and vial of chemicals, stuffed into a man’s pockets would prompt a security agent to question him. However, it does not warrant a crotch grab as is currently prescribed by T.S.A. procedures.
The confirmed sexual violations of T.S.A. agents at the Denver airport in 2015 is just one example of the agency’s failure to hire and train qualified personnel, and presents an ardent argument of why we have the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Americans have the right to refuse a pat-down, as proved by Sen. Rand Paul in 2012. While we all want to support our law enforcement and security officials, objecting to an unwarranted violation of our person is perfectly within our rights as humans and American citizens.