Faisal Shahzad, the man who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square earlier this week, almost made it out of the country. It wasn’t until he drove to JFK, checked in, cleared security, and boarded his Emirates flight bound for Dubai that he was nabbed.
The talking heads were on cable news to discuss it and Fox News featured Michael Chertoff, the Secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush Administration, who not surprisingly said if the TSA was in charge, this wouldn’t have happened.
Chertoff explained that the reason Shahzad slipped through the cracks was because airlines are only obligated to update their no-fly lists every 24 hours (that has since been reduced to two hours), and that airlines are simply not as efficient as law enforcement at catching criminals. No surprise there, but what was somewhat surprising is Chertoff’s claim that some airlines– he didn’t name them– had been opposed to a government takeover of the screening process because it required spending too much money:
“For several years now, we’ve been working to actually change the system entirely so that the process of checking is not done by the airlines, who, frankly, from time to time, make mistakes or they don’t focus on the issue. And to move that into TSA– that’s a program called ‘Secure a Flight.’ It has taken years to get this done because, to be honest, the airlines have fought very hard against this transition because it’s going to cost them money to rewire their IT system, so that they’re able to pass the manifest passenger information over to TSA.”
I’ll concede that the airlines are not perfect, but it is laughable that the TSA would do a better job. Not only do I have civil liberties concerns with no-fly lists in the first place, but is Chertoff suffering from Alzheimer’s disease?