There has been much hullabaloo in the blogosphere about the Nigerian diaper bomber. But to me it seems the commentary is largely misdirected. We have those trying to tell us to ignore this event and fear terrorists not, because that would just provide another excuse for the TSA to diminish our rights, or that terrorist events are rare.
We also have an administration apologist, telling us the system “worked.” With all due respect to Ms. Napolitano, this guy was able to get enough explosive on board a major jetliner to incinerate his legs. The system decidedly did not work. Napolitano did “clarify” her assertion this morning, after offering the usual excuse that the media took her out of context. But confidence in this Administration has certainly been shaken by the startling lack of judgment she revealed in making such a preposterous assertion.
But all this babble is all totally misdirected. The relevant question is whether or not this event represents a new and real threat to the aviation system. Those who scoff, citing the clownish bungling of the terrorist, fail to understand that this was a probative attempt. I break the real issue into components:
- Can this potent explosive be detected by current screening devices? If yes, the terrorists can drag the aviation industry to a crawl. If no, we have a real problem.
- Can sufficient amounts of the explosive be hidden in clothing? It appears the answer is yes.
- Is there a viable fuse/ignition system? If yes, we have a huge problem.
The ability of al-Qaeda to procure explosives and fuses is a given. So with nothing more than a seamstress, a plane ticket and a willing group of terrorists we could see 10, 50, 100 planes go down in a single day.
And yet we hear bickering about the TSA intrusions, we see President Obama is busy working on his golf game, and we are insulted by a lame effort from the Secretary of Homeland Security to persuade us not to worry.
Again, the real issue is this: Have the terrorists found a simple way to have a profoundly negative effect on the aviation industry?