Friday, July 20, 2012

Meet Your Pilot—Captain Mohammed Jihad

I've just been given another reason to stay home. Alternatively, if I'm going to travel, I'll drive. I guess I won't be seeing anything outside the United States for some time to come. Behaving like all the other idiots in the Obama administration, the Transportation Security Administration (a clear misnomer) has enabled illegal aliens in a very dangerous way. These are the people who are responsible for your safety on public transportation.

The TSA should be known as the Keystone Kops. They prevent blue-haired grandmas, babies in diapers, and quadriplegics from boarding an airplane until they have first been irradiated and fondled, but they can't seem to stop dangerous people from becoming the pilots on those planes. If you find yourself flying into the Empire State Building or the Golden Gate Bridge, you probably have the TSA to thank.

Anybody remember 9-11? Nineteen jihadists, four teams and one terrorist with pilot training in America in each of the four teams. The government ran around like chickens with their heads cut off, and promised us that with the old agencies, new agencies, middle-aged agencies, and the Homeland Security super-agency, this would not be allowed to happen again. They lied.

Hiding in plain sight in Boston, twenty-five illegal aliens were being trained as pilots at a school run by, wait for it, an illegal alien. Six of the illegals have already received their pilot's licenses. And once again, it was only a fluke that brought the matter to light. Did the TSA conduct a check on American flight schools and discover the covert operation? Nope. The owner of the school was stopped for a traffic violation, and a routine background check showed him to be in the United States illegally. Still, nothing might have been done had not one person in the General Accounting Office reviewing licenses and payments for permits found what the police had already found. Only then did the TSA become involved.

Stephen Lord, the GAO's director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues testified before the House Homeland Security Committee this week. He was asked the following question: “Isn't it true that, based on your report, the Transportation Security Administration cannot assure the American people that foreign terrorists are not in this country, learning how to fly airplanes? Yes or no. Lord's answer was that at this time it cannot.

The illegal alien who owns the flight school was allowed to apply for and run a flight school without the required TSA security threat assessment. But he still managed to get two Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilot certificates. Under the laws developed after 9-11, such certificates are supposed to be submitted to the TSA routinely for review. Someone dropped the ball. Under the Alien Flight Student Program (AFS), foreign nationals are supposed to be subjected to a TSA security threat assessment prior to receiving any flight training at all. Remember that of the four 9-11 pilots, only one had any training at all in landing a large aircraft, but nobody at the time found that odd.

After making this find, the GAO starting look into the problem as a whole. There are about 25,599 foreign nationals in the FAA airmen registry who are not in the TSA AFSP registry. That's a whole lot of unvetted aliens. That means that currently there are 25,599 who have or will have FAA pilot certificates without ever having been investigated by the TSA. Under the law which should have been applied, none of those 25,599 should even have begun flight training, let alone receive FAA certificates.

Al Qaeda and al Qaeda-like organizations have evolved to meet present realities. Our mindless bureaucracies have not. The chances of a terrorist getting control of a major airline's jumbo jet and flying it into a skyscraper have been greatly reduced. But that solves an eleven year old problem, not a current one. How about all those small and medium-sized aircraft which could carry weaponized anthrax, bubonic plague, or a dirty nuclear bomb?

Well, let me set your mind at rest. The TSA and ICE have announced that they are “working on” a pilot program for vetting the names of foreign nationals against immigration databases.” My first thought is “what have they been doing for the last eleven years?” My second thought is, “Obama and Holder will squelch that the moment they hear about it.” And just in case your expectations are too high, the GAO noted that the two agencies “have not specified desired outcomes and time frames, or assigned individuals with responsibility for fully instituting the program.”

In all fairness, none of the twenty-five illegal students or the illegal flight school owner have been found to be terrorists or to have terrorist connections—yet. Those twenty-six worry me, but the other 25,599 really worry me. If one guy with a pilot's license in Utah can break into a small airport, steal a SkyWest commercial jet and nearly take off to avoid a murder arrest, what could 25,599 do? If only 10% of them have terrorist connections, and only 10% of that 10% seek to do America harm, that's 256 opportunities for committing mass murder. 9-11 took only four pilots and four planes.

32 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk - this is a story that is simultaneously terrifying and infuriating. To me, this underscores just why big government is almost never the best way. Federal government, bureaucracy be thy name. Having worked in a large corporate environment my entire career, I fully realize it is impossible in a free society like ours (at least it used to be) to expect us to have 100% track record against careful and determined small cells of terrorists. However, big operations tend to yield the Peter Principle, and ours is no exception.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

The TSA is a joke. It will never work. Time to brush it away and start over.

AndrewPrice said...

TSA, like all government agencies, is incapable of meeting real threats because it's bloated, territorial, and it looks for easy answers rather than actual solutions. Moreover, it's easier to pat down little old ladies than it is to stop actual terrorists, and that's always been my concern with this, that it's just for show.

LawHawkRFD said...

Temnessee: We've also seen the insistence by the government that TSA government employees be used wherever possible rather than private firms. And then there's the possibilities of the union thing where you have a very difficult time removing incompetents. A huge percentage of the TSA people couldn't qualify for a job at the same airports as janitors, so instead we trust them with our lives. And this is what we get for it.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: I agree. And after firing them all, we should hire Israeli intelligence in their place.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Amen. They only look for easy answers because a complicated answer is far beyond their intelligence and/or experience. "Going by the book" is the worst possible way to identify terrorists. And that's the only thing a government employee can do. But given this latest mess, it's more likely that the pilots will kill us rather than our fellow passengers. Thanks, TSA.

Anthony said...

This TSA screw-up is horrifying, but not as bad as the screw-up that led the underwear bomber to get on a plane to the US (after his father warned us that his US visa holding son had turned terrorist).

That being said, while I'm fine with the government contracting out much of what the TSA is doing, I wouldn't expect better results unless we trust people to use their judgement (profile) rather than just randomly search people (sorry Congressman, the computer picked your name out of a hat, prepare for the cavity search!) as Israel tends to do.

That being said, I doubt that people pissed off about the TSA's current security measures would deal well with Israel's security measures.

http://barenakedislam.com/2012/06/05/israeli-airport-security-light-years-ahead-of-the-tsa/

How would most Americans react to the demand that they turn on their computers and let the government (or private contractors working for the government) go through everything on their computer, and copy and question the owner about anything they find interesting? 'You've made some very negative comments about the government on your blog, are you involved with a militia or do you have reason to believe anyone you have come in contact with is involved in a militia?'. The howls of outrage would be deafening.

So we have to ask ourselves how we are going to balance security, liberty and convenience? No matter what balance we strike, someone will be unhappy.

Also, I don't share Lawhawk's high opinion of Al Queda. In the West, they seem to be really focused on airplane attacks. If one merely wanted to rack up a big body count, there are ways one could rack up hundreds or even thousands of casualties quite easily without involving planes.

Instead, they keep trying to do what everyone expects them to do. A guy who enters a plane and starts acting strange (trying to set his shoe on fire or what have you) is immediately going to be gang tackled by everyone present because everyone's foremost worry is such an attack.

Outside of airplanes, the level of security/public preoccupation drops sharply.

T-Rav said...

The TSA needs to have its house cleaned from top to bottom. All the stories I've seen make it clear that there is abuse and irresponsibility at every level, and that the administration heads have zero interest in correcting the situation. I think some conservatives have the right idea when they suggest turning airport screening to private groups.

T-Rav said...

Also, I guess it should be said--prayers to all the people affected by the shooting out in Colorado. God be with them.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: I agree with most of what you say. I did say that al Qaeda and al Qaeda-like organizations are evolving to meet present realities. There are a lot of al Qaeda-like organizations around (Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood immediately come to mind). The article was about illegal aliens running flight schools in America, so naturally the focus was on airplanes. But "evolving" certainly involves a great deal more than airplanes, and we will undoubtedly be addressing the legion of other methods terrorists have used and will use in the future. To start with, the TSA is even worse when it comes to subways, commuter trains and buses. Many of the other threats to static targets are not in the bailiwick of the TSA. Those are handled by other incompetent bureaucrats.

Here's a clickable link to the article you recommend: Israeli Airport Security. If Americans want real security, not security "shows," they are going to have to get realistic. The inconvenience to most travelers would be greatly reduced by using Israeli security methods, but would increase for those whom trained security personnel have determined to be suspicious. And yes, that does include some profiling that the politically-correct among us would reject. Use of these methods would require hiring people with IQs above room temperature and rigorous training, something our government employees would find too limiting and too strenuous. Israel is about security, our TSA is about rote learning, lunch breaks, pension and retirement benefits, unions, and guaranteed jobs for life regardless of performance.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: People who have government jobs with no responsibility and no realistic chance of being fired for poor performance quickly become the drones we have working at airports. Hiring policies are inadequate, work requirements are even worse. The longer we have TSA agents seizing perfume bottles and penknives and ignoring tell-tale signs being demonstrated by the travelers the less secure we are. I can't imagine that private companies could do any worse, and would likely do considerably better. Alternatively, we could simply set up a TSA populated entirely by security experts and loyal military people. They would have to resign from the military, of course, in order to avoid establishing active military operations on American soil, but that's just a detail. Serving in a military uniform or serving in a TSA uniform is still service, and I'll trust an ex-military man or woman over an entry-level security agent any day in the week.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: That massacre is almost beyond belief. Our prayers should go out to the families and friends of the victims.

LawHawkRFD said...

Related Topic: I'll take victories wherever we can get them. I hope most of you saw or heard the story about the man who just couldn't take the search nonsense at the airport anymore, and essentially said "screw you and your silly search," then removed all his clothes. And I mean all. He was charged with indecent exposure. Well, first of all, indecent exposure requires the intent to arouse sexual interest in others, and that certainly wasn't his intention. Best of all, the court found that his nudity was not indecent exposure, and then found that his angry and frustrated demonstration of defiance was protected by the First Amendment right to demonstrative free speech and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Once in a rare while, the courts get it right.

tryanmax said...

I say "kudos" to that man. I'm glad he won his day in court. I have little reason to fly, but I have often said that if I did, I would be very likely to do the same thing. And believe me, I wouldn't arouse sexual interest in anyone.

LawHawkRFD said...

tryanmax: When all the airport silliness was in its infancy over twenty years ago, I actually did almost the same thing. I was trying to see friends off at the San Francisco airport, but got stopped because I was wearing a pager (yes, it was that long ago). Then the unnecessary harassment started. So I started stripping, but didn't have the nerve to go all the way. It held up the line long enough, and I was getting a cheering-section, so the "security" agents decided to hold onto the pager until I came back from the boarding area and let me go. Afterwards, I thought "are you nuts?" but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. And at least I had remembered my mom's advice, and I was wearing clean underwear. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

The real kicker is that the TSA already "profiles". When they pick out old ladies, children, and people in wheelchairs with colostomy bags consistantly, THAT is profiling. Making a conscience effort to NOT choose to further investigate the very people one should be giving additional scrutiny IS profiling.

BTW, my 80 yr old mother got so frustrated at airport security a few years ago that she just lifted up her dress over her head to the shock of the TSA. I'm sure as her daughter I would have been mortified if I had been there, but I love that she did it. Don't tell HER that.

Anthony said...

If he stripped in a public area, I would have been fine with the angry nudist being convicted. Kids don't need to see that.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: You miss the point entirely. He could have been charged with disturbing the peace, or a local statute forbidding public nudity. But they charged him with indecent exposure, a very specific and well-defined crime, and he was exonerated. Besides, given the current state of public TV, the kids have probably seen far worse at home.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: In a way, I think it's profile-avoidance. Eliminate all the "protected" groups, then do body cavity searches on anyone who isn't a member of one of those groups. And anyway, it's the job of parents and grandparents to embarrass their children and grandchildren. LOL

LawHawkRFD said...

Note the Daily Caller link about the Colorado shooting. ABC's Brian Ross, with the able assistance of George Stephanopoulos, almost instantly tied the shooting to the Tea Party. He did his research on the always-reliable Facebook. Turns out the Tea Party member had the same name, but was an entirely different person.

Anthony said...

Lawhawk,

Fair enough. I confess that as a non-lawyer I always thought indecent exposure and public nudity were one in the same.

Still, I stand by my point that its irresponsible and immoral to strip in front of kids (assuming the guy wasn't in some sort of private room, I only know what you've told me about the case).

Sure, given the state of the world, its within the realm of possibility the kids had run into such things before, but that doesn't excuse said behaviour.

LawHawkRFD said...

Just saw Mitt Romney's comments on the Colorado shooting. I immediately felt the sincerity. When Obama spoke, all I saw was a canned speech about "family" and "violence" and an undertone of "but how will this affect my reelection chances?" Eerily, I had the feeling that he was thinking "at least this will give me another chance to talk about gun control and get peoples' minds off Fast & Furious." I admit my distaste for Obama, so maybe I'm reading more into it than I should.

Anthony said...

Moving on to the Colorado shooting, my prayers go to all the victims. Its a damn shame some idiots are trying to make political hay of this.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: Surprisingly, many cities, counties and states actually have no laws regarding public nudity but nearly all have indecent exposure statutes. At law, at least, there is a clear distinction. Like me at the San Francisco airport (see my response to tryanmax) decades ago, this man acted on angry impulse, and gave little thought to who was viewing the proceedings. I'm guessing that given time to think and analyze, he probably wouldn't have done it. Impulse can get us into a lot of trouble. I agree he should have thought first, but that's water under the bridge. I don't want kids unwillingly exposed to adult nudity any more than you do.

The big difference is that I would have had no problem with him being convicted of another offense, and he probably wouldn't either. But in most jurisdictions, being convicted of indecent exposure automatically results in a requirement to register as a mentally disordered sex offender (MDSO), something that is a life sentence of being denied employment and being subject to "roundups" of "known offenders" whenever there's a sex crime committed in the person's environs.

LawHawkRFD said...

Anthony: I couldn't agree more. This is a time for prayer and reflection, not finger-pointing.

Tam said...

I flew home from CO last week. My husband and a friend who frequently fly out of Denver refused to go through the naked scanner, therefore were forced to be pat down. When asked if he was opting out, my friend said, "I never opted in." I was flying with my 6 year old and had a whole set of scenarios prepared for my mild protest. There is no way on God's green earth that I will be treated like a criminal because I don't want naked pictures taken of me or to be fondled by bureaucrats, nor will I allow them to molest my child. I was prepared to be detained, my mom was worried about watching the news, but it turned out there was ONE line where they allowed people to go through the normal metal detector unmolested. Crisis averted. Although if I hadn't had my kid with me, I may have caused a scene.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tam: I know how you feel. It has become a tightrope between what we will allow as a matter of public safety and what we ought to do in defense of personal privacy. Regardless of what system we finally settle on, there will always be excesses. That's human nature. But a highly-trained professional security apparatus (and again, I point to the Israelis) would keep those excesses to a minimum.

Our current system of treating everyone like a criminal being checked out by bureaucratic morons is another thing entirely. I think that what we have now is proof of what Ben Franklin warned us about: "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

LawHawkRFD said...

I have to admit to a certain amount of mystification about why such massacres have occurred in Colorado. I have never thought of Colorado as a particularly violent place, particularly given comparisons to California, Illinois or New York. Yet we had Littleton/Columbine, and now this. Coincidence is not causation, so it probably is mere coincidence, and the motivations for now seem entirely different. Andrew would know better than I, since he lives in Colorado.

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk - I think the difference is that, sadly, in Chicago and New York mass murder and gunplay is commonplace. As I reported last weekend, over the 4th of July holiday in NY 23 people were shot and 3 killed in a hail of bullets from an AK-47. No on batted an eyelash. In Chicago it is no different or much worse.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: You may very well be right. It could be we're just desensitized in our home states. A mass murder in Colorado stands out because it's so rare. Los Angeles is struggling mightily to keep up with NYC and Chicago. But per capita San Francisco has an even higher rate than Los Angeles, and if you add in Oakland, you have a virtual shooting gallery. And of course the rate of crime among properly licensed gun owners and non-criminals is extremely low.

T-Rav said...

What I've been hearing is that this @#$%tard believed himself to be an incarnation of the Joker, and targeted the theater for that reason. Personally, I don't really care. If he wants to plead insanity, fine; we can put him in a clown costume before frying him.

LawHawkRFD said...

T-Rav: That does seem to be a major part of the formula so far. But remember that even if he is determined to be insane, that may not mean he'll be found not guilty. If he can be shown to know the difference between right and wrong, and made a conscious decision to perform this horrible act, he can still be found guilty of the crime without being found not guilty by reason of insanity (the M'Naghten rule).

If I remember my conflict of laws cases correctly, Colorado uses that M'Naghten rule, but tempers it with the "irresistible impulse" rule, with the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove that the defendant didn't suffer from a narrowly-defined impulse at the time of the commission of the crime. But all of that is academic while the investigation proceeds.

PS: Don't suggest the clown costume, lest the ACLU declare it to be cruel and unusual punishment as well as discriminatory prosecution of clowns.

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