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Monday, July 10, 2006

He done forgot a few things 

Annika links to this story from the Houston Chronicle:

[A] confidential TSA report obtained by the Houston Chronicle details a dispute between screeners and a police officer on duty at the airport.

The report states that a man with a Middle Eastern name and a ticket for a Delta Airlines flight to Atlanta shook his head when screeners asked if he had a laptop computer in his baggage, but an X-ray machine operator detected a laptop.

A search of the man's baggage revealed a clock with a 9-volt battery taped to it and a copy of the Quran, the report said. A screener examined the man's shoes and determined that the "entire soles of both shoes were gutted out."

No explosive material was detected, the report states. A police officer was summoned and questioned the man, examined his identification, shoes and the clock, then cleared him for travel, according to the report.

A TSA screener disagreed with the officer, saying "the shoes had been tampered with and there were all the components of (a bomb) except the explosive itself," the report says.

The officer retorted, "I thought y'all were trained in this stuff," TSA officials reported.

The report says the TSA screener notified Delta Airlines and talked again with the officer, who said he had been unable to check the passenger's criminal background because of computer problems.

Now Annika figures that there are three possible explanations for this incident:

a) that it was a test run; b) that the plan involved hiding the explosive somewhere else on the plane, or with an accomplice who aborted the mission; or c) that this poor innocent man with the middle eastern name was unfairly hassled while scores of evil grannies were allowed to board the plane unmolested.

I tend to go for option d) - that this was just a crazy dude. However, he wasn't crazy enough. It's understandable that a crazy guy would forget the explosives, but there are also other things that he forgot:
  • A copy of Playboy Magazine, which he could use to select the appearance of his 72 virgins.

  • Carrying the Quran is passe - heck, *I* have a copy of the Quran. To truly establish himself as a terrorist, he should have carried an Osama Bin Laden manual, or perhaps something from Hamas.

  • Demonstrated hatred of the president is essential, and it would be really easy for him to find such things to carry. Something from moveon.org, or perhaps a John and Ken transcript, would have been good to have.

Getting back to the dispute between the TSA and HPD, there are conflicting views of why the man was allowed to board the flight.

Houston police and the federal Transportation Security Administration disagree over who is responsible for allowing a man with what appeared to be bomb components board an aircraft at Hobby Airport last week.

Although the FBI eventually cleared the man of wrongdoing, police officials have transferred the officer involved and are investigating the incident while insisting that the TSA, not police, has the authority to keep a suspicious person from boarding a flight.

"Our job is not to be the gatekeepers," police Capt. Dwayne Ready said. "That burden falls squarely on the airline and TSA to make that final decision....

TSA spokeswoman Andrea McCauley said screeners have the authority to stop people from going beyond the checkpoint to the boarding areas, but they rely heavily on local police....

The TSA issued a statement saying its screeners "acted in accordance with their training and protocols."

FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmett in Atlanta said agents there investigated the passenger.

"It was looked at and deemed a non-event," Emmett said, declining to give further details.

Meanwhile the officer involved in the dispute, J.O. Reece, has been transferred to a desk job, "the same place they send officers who are relieved of duty," said Chad Hoffman, attorney for the Houston Police Officers Union.

Hoffman said Reece doesn't understand why he was transferred "when it seems clear from the onset of the investigation that he didn't have probable cause to detain anybody and that his actions were consistent with the law and HPD policy."

Also see David Benzion's thoughts on the issue. And the thoughts of others:

gregg aka T-BONE Says:
July 10th, 2006 at 8:34 am
That guy is lucky he didnt get caught driving without his seatbelt on or expired inspection. His arse would be sitting in jail right now. Chief Hurt knows how to keep us safe.
Astrosmith Says:
July 10th, 2006 at 9:33 am
Did they find a bottle of viagra in the guy’s bags? That’s the real threat!
No Higher Tax Says:
July 10th, 2006 at 10:20 am
How many and where else was this tried with success?

Wrap him in pig skin and see what he says then. Great thing about muslim interrogation with hog hide is the hog doesn’t mind and it don’t leave a mark for a liberal lawyer to see.

Ever try placing fried pig skins in the seat of theatres or airlines where middle eastern looking people are seated - knowing you got them and when they get ready for their 72 raisins/virgins Alah will tell them you are not clean since you were touched by a hog.
strongbow Says:
July 10th, 2006 at 10:30 am
I’m about as conservative as they come and I hate to say this, but as suspicious as this event looks, no laws were broken. The man was apparently not carrying any illegal or banned items. Heck, the digital watch I wear, and the cell phone I carry could qualify as “all of the necessary components for a bomb, except for the explosive”.

Sometimes a duck is just a duck.

If we really want to be paranoid about it, then ban all carry-on items from planes…everything gets checked as baggage, and make passengers change into simple scrubs or jumpsuits with no pockets. What kind of outcry would that cause?
fasternu426 Says:
July 10th, 2006 at 12:47 pm
The thing is, there is a HUGE probem with overlapping jurisdictions. HPD enforces local and state law. TSA catches, but cannot arrest for violation of Federal laws. ****The guy did not break any laws the HPD officer could arrest for.**** TSA could have had HPD detain and call for FBI to come out there. The problem lies with HPD management for NEVER defining what the hell the officer’s jobs are in the first place! I know, I worked for those idiots! They have so many law enforcement and private security companies running around out there that nobody has ultimate authority. Feds can’t enforce local laws, local officers cant’t enforce federal laws. Private security can’t do squat but get on the phone and hope they get the right agency!

HPD never trained for any kind of events at the airports EVER! Only one training exercise was conductted when I worked there, and it was or the FBI. HPD is too cheap to spend the money to train properly and too scared to take charge.

Oh, and he forgot an Aztlan manual - whoops, wrong group.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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