As published November 05, 2015, by Daily News. For full version click.
By Brian F. Sullivan
The whole world’s watching to see if Metro jet Flight 9268 was taken down by an ISIS bomb. If it was, what does that mean for aviation security here in the United States and around the world? Should the traveling public be concerned, especially when travelling oversees?
The traveling public should absolutely be concerned. If security couldn’t keep the 2001 Shoe Bomber or 2009 Underwear Bomber off international flights, why would we believe security might prevent an ISIS bomber from boarding a plane and killing everyone onboard? History proves that we haven’t done a very good job of that in the past.
The U.S. aviation security system is often hailed as the gold standard for the world, so if that system isn’t working properly, it certainly isn’t encouraging.
The agency’s covert audit of U.S. airports found layers of security “simply missing.” Roth said tests by federal auditors found “troubling” problems related to technology, procedures and human error at security checkpoints and that the findings were “consistent across every airport.” So much for the gold standard.
The bottom line is that terrorists are always a step ahead of security. There isn’t a screener alive who can detect the three separate components of an explosive device if they are broken down into their separate parts, carried onto and then assembled on a plane. Even the full body scanner can be bypassed with explosives.
The two most significant security improvements since 9/11 are the locked and hardened cockpit doors and crew and passengers are more alert, aware and ready to react.
The Shoe Bomber and Underwear Bomber demonstrate aviation security’s inability to keep bombs off planes, especially if the perpetrator is willing to go down in flames. It wasn’t Federal Air Marshals or any of our high tech security safeguards that kept those planes in the air. It was the courageous actions of passengers and crew. People may not want to hear it, but the reality we face is that they are our last line of defense.
Brian F. Sullivan is a Senior Fellow at the American Leadership and Policy Foundation. He is a retired Army Military Police lieutenant colonel and former special agent, risk program management specialist, for the Federal Aviation Administration. He has more than 30 years of security experience and was presented with a Platinum REMI at the Houston International Film Festival in 2011 for his narration of the aviation security documentary, “Please Remove Your Shoes.”