Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Pants Bomber

Another (failed) terrorist attack, once again the solutions being proposed involve more inconvenience, more invasion of privacy and little in the way of true increased security. Chalk up another round to the terrorists.

It is more than a little annoying that having had to give fingerprints to travel to the US, submitting all those details they so love, with talk of countries passing on credit card information and the like, that this attack was done by someone on their 500K list of people to watch.

See this article for more on the information that was available about the terrorist. It seems that this attack was an intelligence failure, as indeed was 911: there was information out there that might have stopped the attack if the pieces had been put together.

Of course, it isn't quite this simple, with hindsight you can look back and find the pieces that needed putting together. 500K is of course rather a lot of people to keep an eye on, OK as a table that computers can check names against, but you're not going to be able to keep track of them all.

It would be interesting to know where in the 500K people he ranked in terms of risk. A single list is less useful than a prioritised list, 500K might be manageable for singling out for special searches (depending on how many are frequent flyers). It is no use having so many on the list you can't afford to check any of them at an airport -- some prioritisation is in order.

Fancy new search equipment isn't the answer to stopping someone on your high risk list getting on a plane, that stuff is there to catch the ones you don't know about yet and to discourage the nutters. Sure, it helps when your intelligence fails, but the solution to an intelligence failure is not to beef up plan B.

No comments: