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20 Jan, 2010 22:21

US still looking for answers on security

US senators met with three people looking for answers on the attempting bombing of a plane on Christmas day.

It’s a question that remains unanswered: How do you make sure everyone who sets foot on a plane is safe? American politicians confronted this subject at a hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday. The title of the hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was, “Intelligence Reform: The Lessons and Implications of the Christmas Day Attack.”

“We dodged a bullet in the skies above Detroit on Christmas day,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “Terrorists have not relented in their fanatical quest to frighten our nation’s citizens and to slaughter as many Americans as possible,” she said.

Those testifying today were Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security; Michael Leiter, the Director of the National Counterterrorism Center; and Admiral Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence.All three today admitted the system did not work in this case.

Now the members of the committee are looking for answers to some principle questions: How was Umar Farouk Abdumutallab able to board a plane bound for the United States? Why weren’t the various signs that he posed a threat discovered by the multiple intelligence agencies in place? And why, three weeks after the incident, hasn’t anyone been held accountable?

“Has anybody been fired?”
asked U.S. Senator John McCain. “Has anyone been transferred? Has anyone received a letter of admonition? Has anyone been put on leave?”

The witnesses also admitted that there is no clear hierarchy created for who is responsible for what, which is why there have been so many issues figuring out who is to blame for the human errors involved.

When asked if any of them were consulted about how and where to try the suspect, all three said that they were not. They said it was a decision made by an FBI agent on the ground. Many senators said they were frustrated that no accused terrorist, including Abdumutallab, is being tried in a military tribunal.

Another revelation was that the technology being used by the various intelligence agencies needs to be updated.

So far, plans are in place to better define the hierarchy, to add 450 more body scanning machines at airports, and to increase the number of federal air marshals on flights. It was clear, however, that the amount of questions and processes far outweigh the number of answers and solutions.