Tuesday, December 29, 2009

How The Undie Bomber Actually Could Have Been Stopped, Relaunching Middle East Peace

Glen Greenwald
Eugene Robinson

"If you count our occupation of Iraq, our twice-escalated war in Afghanistan, our rapidly escalating bombing campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and various forms of covert war involvement in Somalia, one could reasonably say that we're fighting five different wars in Muslim countries" - Glen Greenwald

Every paper and website has at least one article on the attempted bomb plot on Christmas Day, involving a lonely, alienated young Nigerian now dubbed the Undie Bomber. Even on this subject, the GOP is trying to attack the Obama administration, like sharks they only know how to move forward and devour. The other subject is how the airport officials can combat all possibilities of homemade bombs, so that they are not always playing catch up. Besides of having someone now put their hand down your crotch to see what exactly you are packing, we haven't come up with a decent high tech solution... Thank God nobody has developed a chemical, that after its ingested, produces poisonous farts that can kill all enclosed passengers...

The most glaring question was why wasn't Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab on the American no-fly list? Homeland Security will no doubt upgrade all 500,000 people on its watch list to the no-fly list, but that is the laziest way to do it. Abdumutallab was on Britain's no-fly list, for lying about the reason why he wanted his student visa renewed, All that's needed is for an entity like Interpol to keep the records collectively for the European Union and to co-ordinate with the US on a regular basis to keep the records up to date. But that means actaully sharing information, something that any country with an intelligence service is loath to do. This alone could have kept the young man from boarding a flight to the US.

The two weakest points in the security fence was where he boarded one plane in Lagos, Nigeria, and the other plane in Amsterdam. Nigeria is plagued with extreme Islamic groups of their own, the most recent clash happened yesterday: "Fighting between Islamic militants and security forces in northern Nigeria left at least 38 people dead as sect members armed with spears, knives, assault rifles and arrows ransacked a neighborhood and set homes ablaze,.. Nigeria, a country of about 150 million people, is almost split between Muslims in the north and Christians in the south. Religious violence is sometimes sparked by local disputes and politics, rather than international influences." So, places like Nigeria will remain vulnerable and the weakest link in the fence.

Also, young Umar took a plane from Lagos, not Yemen, which means that he was in his home country for awhile, probably at home with his father. If his father was so worried about his son's extremist views, why didn't he re-notify authorities that his son was on his way to Amsterdam? Oh, the day before Christmas would have worked...

Amsterdam is one of the busiest airports in the world. They have about 20 of the latest high tech body scanners that work with radio waves and can detect the tiniest bit of sweat, but there is no way of knowing if one was used on Abdulmutallab or not. Evidently, the current practice is that they are not required on everybody, passing through them is optional! But this is where the hypodermic needle at least should have been discovered and where the focus of security lapse should be directed.

Last, so far all of the bomb attempts have been pretty low tech. What we need is a group of people to come up with as many variations that they can think of, the many ways that drug smugglers use humans as mules to take drugs on planes and across borders as an example, and to actually try to test our security measures by attempting to smuggle themselves onto planes. Similar to how the military tests their security for top secret installations.

restarting the peace process...

The right wing zealot Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting Cairo, Egypt. to talk with Mutubarak about ways to begin peace talks again with Palestine. This is a paving of the way for the new tactic the Obama administration will try to set things in motion:"The US administration of Barack Obama is said to be drafting letters of guarantee for Israel and the Palestinians to serve as a basis for the relaunch of peace talks, stalled for almost a year.

"The mere fact of Mubarak meeting Netanyahu in Egypt is in and of itself an instrument of pressure on Mahmoud Abbas [the Palestinian president]. We've been hearing increasing reports that the Americans may be about to unveil a new diplomatic initiative," Mouin Rabbani, a senior fellow at the Institute of Palestinian Studies, told Al Jazeera.

"The mere fact of Mubarak meeting Netanyahu in Egypt is in and of itself an instrument of pressure on Mahmoud Abbas [the Palestinian president] to accept whatever conditions the Americans may be putting forth. The message that is coming from the Egyptian leadership now is that what the Americans are going to propose is good enough for the most important Arab state and therefore it should be good enough for the Palestinian leadership," he said."

The problems both countries are currently having contributes to destabilizing any serious talks, Netanyahu started a 10 month moratorium on bulding new houses in the West Bank, but committed to building 700 new houses in East Jeruslaem, the Arab part of the city. Egypt has recently been caught putting in steel fences along its border with Gaza, in an obvious attempt to seal off the smuggling tunnels, which is the only way to bring goods into the Gaza Strip, and yes, guns and people are smuggled in, too.

Since Israel has pretty much left Gaza to rot after bombing the crap out of the place, keeping its embargo up and not letting building materials in, what Egypt should be doing is opening its side of the border up, or at least the border crossing so that trade can come across. As long as Israel and the Palestinians treat each other like jilted, acrimonious lovers, and refuse to respect the other, then any peace process will fail again, be absorbed as quickly as rain in the desert sand.

 Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see until George Mitchell makes his next round of visits for those letters to be passed out, hope for something more than excuses and photo ops. Everyone wants the same thing by now, they are just stuck on how to get the truck out of the ditch and back running on the lonesome road.

ahmadinejad blithers...

I can't believe the gall of Iran's fake President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. After the fiascal of his goverment committing violence on a holy day, he should have just kept his mouth shut and gone about business in a low profile. But that is not his style, and today he had to loudly insert his foot into his mouth. First, he blamed the British for causing the protests, mainly because of the reporting by the BBC. Then, he seems to be accusing everyone else he can think of: "Iranians have seen lots of these games," the president was quoted by state news agency IRNA as saying. Americans and Zionists are the sole audience of a play they have commissioned and sold out. A nauseating play is performed."

Ahmadinejad also condemned comments made by U.S. President Barack Obama and the British government, who have lashed out over Iran's crackdown on protesters.

"We have advised them repeatedly but if looks as if they insist on being humiliated, we are sure they will be humiliated more than their predecessors," he said."

Meanwhile, his flunkies in the Parliament have asked for the death penalty for those 300 or so who were arrested. I don't know how he thinks we are being humiliated, but he is proving that he and his cronies sure don't know how to run a country. Iran is making China and North Korea look like liberals where human rights are concerned... Of course, he was making a reference that he somehow humiliated George Bush on the political level and now he is about to whammy Obama... I know that many of our Congressmen here are whacked out on prescription medication and it causes them to make erratic statements, so that makes me wonder just what this man is taking to make him sound so insane?

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