Monday, December 28, 2009

Terror Does Not Take A Holiday: The Attempted Explosion Of Northwest Delta Flight 253

Hi everyone. For those who celebrated, I hope you had a nice Christmas. I had a great time with family, and was still riding high with holiday spirit when I went to check out the latest happenings on Twitter. Always nice to get rudely slapped in the face with reality. Le sigh. For those who have blessedly been rock-dwelling these past few days, the basics: on Christmas day, a 23-year- old Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to bring down Detroit-bound Northwest Delta Flight 253 by lighting a-flame explosives sewn into his underwear. Yes, his underwear.

To tell the truth, I've pretty much been avoiding all television news since this story broke. That tends to be where the majority of the inevitable stupidity is concentrated. The show tonight doesn't really fall in that realm of utterly ridiculousness, but I still think I'm going to bulldoze through it. I just can't get into this coverage. Intellectually, I know this is very important and the topics being discussed absolutely should be investigated. Yet I can't help feeling a visceral reaction of "meh." And I blame Bush.

Yes, scoff if you must. But I've realized that after everything we went through under that administration, I am no longer capable of believing anything I'm told about terrorism plots. My default is now stuck on "bullshit" and I don't know how to turn it off. I think my apathy also comes from a strong desire to just skip the political and media ridiculousness that always follows these types of incidents. Can someone just please let me know when the world becomes semi-rational again?

Anyway, Erica Hill, who appears to have a cold, is manning the ship tonight for an absent Anderson Cooper. Remember those explosive underwear I mentioned? CNN has pictures! Yeah, okay. Al Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula is claiming responsibility for the attack, but eh, it's too early to really pin that down.

We then move on to a Randi Kaye piece about all of the failures that allowed the suspect to get as far as he did. It really is jaw-dropping. The guy was on a Watch list, his own father reported him to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria...I mean, c'mon! But I suppose this shouldn't be surprising. I've always regarded the TSA as a joke. You really think taking your shoes off makes us safer? It's theater. The perception of safety; not actual safety. Check out this must read piece from the Atlantic published last year. When will we ever learn?

After Randi's piece, there's discussion with Ben Venske of IntelCenter, Jeanne Meserve, and Peter Bergen. Topics include underwear and crotch areas. This is really just a weird dream I'm having, right?

Erica then talks with some of the passengers on the flight. Again, this is information I can't quite believe. I can't help but wonder if they're embellishing to get on TV or maybe even simply misremembering certain facts. I don't want to assume these things, but you learn to be skeptical. As for the flight's hero, Jasper Schuringa (he tackled the guy), he wasn't on 360, but you might be interested to know he's making a pretty penny. The whole thing makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, huh?

Next up, a Candy Crowley piece on the response from President Obama. Oh my God, he waited three days before saying anything AND he didn't wear a tie! Personally, I didn't need him to say anything at all. The attack wasn't successful, and it's not like it was ongoing either (think Katrina). But from a PR standpoint, probably not a good move. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano screwed up big time by initially saying the system worked. Um, if a working system results in a dude almost blowing up his underwear, we're more screwed than I thought.

Moving on now to the requisite explosive demonstration. This is not the first time 360 has blown something up for our viewing benefit. Nic Robertson is our tour guide. I like how he runs away, but expert dude just kinda calmly walks. Anyway, ka-boom! End package.

We wrap things up with a Joe Johns piece on, well, that ridiculousness that I talked about previously. Now the TSA has even more rules AND there's talk of 3D body scans. Yes, that means naked you at the airport. It always flabbergasts me how quickly people will give up their rights for a little perception of security. As one of the guys in the piece says, at the airport, "we are essentially searched without a warrant."

I'm not an irrational person. Some security is definitely needed. But where does it end? How long before we're all handcuffed to our chairs in our skivvies? Back when Richard Reid made us all take off our shoes, some jokingly pondered what would happen if someone put a bomb in their underwear. Well folks, we're here. Are we all going to be required to go commando now? You know, at a certain point it becomes clear that we've stopped defending ourselves against terrorism and simply surrendered to it. All they have to do is send one yahoo who isn't even successful, and suddenly we're changing our way of life. Smart prevention. Some day maybe we'll try that way.

The "shot" tonight is Jib Jab's end of the year video. Most of that stuff I'd like to forget. That'll do it.

Edited to add: Another reason I can't get my freak out on over this latest incident: According to stat guru Nate Silver "you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning."

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You mentioned how some people may be embellishing things just to get on TV, well I couldn't agree with you more. I saw a report where one passenger said the guy was ranting and raving about Iran or Afghanistan and that he was acting wildly. Then in the next passenger said he just sat their calmly not saying anything until he was tackled, but then didn't say anything either. What people won't do to get on television or to get their 15 minutes of fame.

5:29 PM  

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