December 28, 2009
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano tells us air travel is safe and reassures us “the system worked”.
In all fairness, Secy Napolitano meant after the immediate threat on the plane was dealt with – the system worked as in the entire air system hadn’t been shut down…there wasn’t mass panic in airports…first responders responded appropriately…notified other countries…
UK refused the muslim terrorist a VISA and didn’t tell the US. Or the message didn’t get through or wrong list or whatever. What they know the US should know and vice versa.
Why is barry letting Scotland Yard go through American citizens’ records?
Why did he let the Lockerbie bomber get free?
And did this latest muslim terrorist have contact with any of the six yemenis just sent home for Christmas from Guantanamo Bay?
CNN [emphasis added]
CROWLEY: President Obama remains on Christmas vacation in Hawaii, but has been getting frequent briefings on the investigation into that attempted airplane bombing. International airline passengers, as well as those traveling here in the United States, now face even tighter security checkpoints, and the Obama administration is reviewing security measures that are already in place to address the terrorists threat.
Joining us now from San Francisco is homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano.
CROWLEY: Secretary Napolitano, thank you so much for joining us. If I am about to get on a plane today in the U.S. or headed toward the U.S., I think my big question is, is this part of a larger plot, or do you think this is a lone wolf?
NAPOLITANO: Well, right now, we have no indication that it’s part of anything larger, but obviously the investigation continues. And we have instituted more screening and what we call mitigation measures at airports. So I would advise you during this heavy holiday season just to arrive a bit early, and to know that we are going to be doing different things at different airports. So don’t expect to do the same thing at one airport when you transfer through to another airport.
But the traveling public — this is my message for you, Candy. The traveling public is very, very safe in this air environment. And while we continue to investigate the source of this incident, I think the traveling public should be confident in what we are doing now.
CROWLEY: So, just to finish up on the question– I do want to talk to you about security measures — but do you think — has there been any evidence of the Al Qaida ties that this suspect has been claiming?
NAPOLITANO: Right now, that is part of the criminal justice investigation that is ongoing, and I think it would be inappropriate to speculate as to whether or not he has such ties. What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel.
And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.
So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.
CROWLEY: Well, it seems as though the reason this plane did not explode is that the explosion failed and then you had some quick passengers who jumped on him when he lit this fire. So let me ask you about how he could have gotten on the plane, with this substance, the PETN. I mean, we get on, you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of toothpaste and you can’t have more than 3.4 ounces of anything in a little bag, and so I think people are thinking, so how does he get on with an explosive? How does that get past security?
NAPOLITANO: Well, we are asking the same questions, looking at what happened in Amsterdam as he transferred flights to a flight that was U.S.-bound. We have already been working with the airport and airline authorities there to see what kind of screening, screening equipment was used. We have no suggestion that he was improperly screened, but we want to go through and see. We’re always . ..
CROWLEY: I’m sorry, but if he was not improperly screened or properly screened, and yet you want Americans to feel safe on the planes, and so if it was properly screened and he got on anyway with that, it doesn’t feel that safe.
NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, it should. This was one individual literally of thousands that fly and thousands of flights every year. And he was stopped before any damage could be done. And now the forensics are analyzing, well, what actually could have been done with whatever substance he had and whatever amount. Those are all undetermined issues right now. And then we will go back and see about that technology, about that screening, just as we will go back at the president’s request and look at how we put people on different types of watch lists. Those are things that had been in place for many years. They have been the procedures that we have utilized. [aka blame it on President Bush.]
NAPOLITANO: And again, once this incident occurred, what I really think deserves attention is everybody responded quickly, effectively, without panicking and shutting down the airline systems or air travel. What we did is dealt with the incident, put out additional security measures both at airports here and abroad, and made sure that the flights that were in the air were indeed safe.
CROWLEY: Let me ask you, because you are right, this was one individual, but that’s really all it takes. If a plane explodes, it just takes one individual. So let me ask you about those watch lists. Here is someone whose father came to the U.S. embassy and said I am worried about his ties, I am worried that he is becoming increasingly militant. He is on a list, but somehow no none looks at him more closely, apparently, than any other passenger. Is there some way — I mean, it seems to me there is all these computer lists, and this one has suspected ties, and that one — and this is the no-fly list. Is there not some way to merge this information so that he would have popped up someplace?
NAPOLITANO: Well, there is no suggestion that — he was on what’s called a TIDE list [Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment List] which has half-a-million-plus names on it. And there is no suggestion that that was not shared information. [UK denied his VISA] The issue was, was there enough information to move him to the more specific lists, which would require additional examination or indeed being on no-fly status. And to date, it does not appear that there was any such information to move him from that TIDE list, which was shared and everybody had it, but to a more specific list which would require different types of screening at the airport.
CROWLEY: So not even a father coming in, knowing what his son has been up to and reporting this to the U.S. embassy, is not enough? I mean, what puts you on the watch list if that is not enough?
NAPOLITANO: Well, indeed you can — let’s not get into that, because for one thing, we need to ascertain exactly who said what to whom and when. But also, you have to understand that you need information that is specific and credible if you are going to actually bar someone from air travel. He was on a general list, which over half a million people, everybody had access to it. But there was not the kind of credible information, in the sense derogatory information, that would move him up the list.
Now, one of the things I think we will be doing over the next weeks is really looking at those watch lists procedures in light of this occurring and saying, OK, do those need to be changed? They have been in place for a number of years. Do they need to be adjusted in light of this event, just as we will look at our screening and screening technology once we know for sure what he had and what he had access to, to see whether any of that needs to be changed.
——-THIS YOU TUBE VIDEO ENDS HERE BUT THE INTERVIEW DIDN’T. BEST EXCHANGE AT THE VERY END.
We are always dealing with a changing environment. But we do it and we do it really very, very quickly and very thoroughly across the entire air environment, through airports both domestically and internationally. And that has happened over this weekend.
CROWLEY: Secretary Napolitano, let me ask you. It seems to me when Richard Reid got on the plane and tried to light his shoe with explosives, we all began to take off our shoes. When some British terrorists began to put substances together, that’s when we got the 3.4. Now we have this man, so an hour before your flight lands, everybody has to have everything off their lap and they can’t use a blanket and they can’t put a pillow there. It feels as though we’re always a little bit behind the curve, we’ve always correcting the last problem. Is there an attempt to kind of look forward and say, OK, what else is missing here when we look at this picture that we — the little loopholes, if you will, that we can close here?
NAPOLITANO: Oh, absolutely. And that work is ongoing all the time. But we also recognize that it is important that we anticipate that someone could indeed get on a plane with intent to do harm, regardless of everything that we do. And that requires, then, everybody to know what to do when that occurs, which is what happened here, and the ability to immediately get information out to flights that are already in the air, as well as flights that are on the ground. And we exercised that. So we are constantly looking for new technologies, new methodologies and the like, as you suggest. But also, always practicing and exercising what needs to happen in terms of information sharing, not just with airports, airlines, but also with other law enforcement, state and local throughout the country and the like, practice that information sharing, getting products out quickly, smoothly, to make sure that additional measures are shared immediately for the protection of the traveling public.
CROWLEY: In terms of additional measures, was there a U.S. marshal on that flight? We are told there was not. Why not?
NAPOLITANO: We do not have air marshals on all flights. They are assigned on a random basis.
CROWLEY: So it’s not a budget cut thing? There are also reports out there that there were some budget cuts in the U.S. marshal program, and that’s why there was not a U.S. marshal on that plane?
NAPOLITANO: Well, the federal air marshals are part of our system, and indeed we share them, and we share — they are posted randomly on different flights. And as far as I know, on this flight, there was not one. But that was not the result of budget cuts. That is just the result of the fact that he happened to be on an airplane that did not have one.
CROWLEY: Do you have the resources you need to keep flights in America and to America safe?
NAPOLITANO: Well, we are also looking at that.
Shortest answer – most important question.