Everyone in DC is scrambling to find the magic bullet–how to protect the American public from terrorists–terrorists who seem to get more and more creative at concealing explosives before boarding flights.
Let’s see…terrorists have gone the MacGyver route-turning utilitarian items, like box cutters, into weapons; they’ve tried concealing explosives in shoes and now underwear. Where will they hide the explosives next time around…body cavities? How will they smuggle weapons on the flight? Perhaps Al Qaeda will begin giving prospective terrorists lessons in speed whittling a toothbrush or a plastic spoon into a shiv? Ahhh…it’s practically a new TLC crafting show.
What’s the solution? Everyone seems to agree on two items: better intelligence and better (and more intrusive) scanning. On the scanning issue, one look at the Drudge Report’s near pornographic photo headline this morning leaves little doubt that not much will get past TSA screeners equipped with this new type of scanner. But should we really feel any safer? Reports have surfaced recently that Al Qaeda has been practicing with its own set of full body screening machines and is trying out new and better ways to conceal explosives. Is there really any doubt that they’ll figure out a way to “beat the system” once again?
So, to intelligence. After 9/11, Congress did what Congress does best–rearrange the deck chairs. Instead of dealing head-on with the problem of information sharing, they created a whole new bureaucracy called the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) charged with compiling information sent to them from the multible federal intelligence agencies to be disseminating to other federal agencies on a “need-to-know” basis. In other words, the NCTC was charged with connecting the dots.
The NCTC was thought of as a solution to the problem of information sharing. But eight years later, it appears things have slipped. And is it any surprise? Government grew as a result of 9/11 and big government will never (it simply isn’t designed to) work smoothly. So, what can be done?
Well, here’s an idea for a more offensive stance for the United States. This week, two Florida Republican Representatives-Connie Mack and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen-asked the Obama administration to put Venezuela on a list of nations that require monitoring because they pose a security risk. Mack cited both Venezuela’s refusal to implement the new, tighter security measures put forth by the Transportation Security Administration as well as evidence that confirms ties between Venezuela and international drug trafficking networks and terrorist organizations such the FARC, Hamas and Hezbollah. In her statement, Ros-Lehtinen discusses DEA reports that demonstrate a Venezuelan connection between the FARC in Columbia and Al Qaeda.
My question after reading about Mack and Ros-Lehtinen’s sensible request to the Administration is…why isn’t Venezuela already on the list? Venezuela’s flirtation with terrorist organizations and rouge nations is well documented. Columbian officials have often accused Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of funding the Columbian terrorist group FARC. Also, consider Venezuela’s ties to Iran. According to a report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in December of last year, Venezuela has an estimated 50,000 tons of un-mined uranium and there’s speculation in the Carnegie report that Venezuela could be mining uranium for Iran. Manhattan district attorney Robert Morgenthau has written that his office has been told that that over the past three years a number of Iranian-owned and controlled factories have sprung up in remote and undeveloped parts of Venezuela.
Countries that refuse TSA’s requirements or have proven records of supporting or sponsoring terrorists and rouge nations must be put on lists designed to secure greater screening of their citizens. Let Washington work out the bugs in intelligence and body scanners. In the meantime, the Obama Administration should take these simple steps to secure travelers.