After the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day, U.S. officials hastily decided that passengers from or traveling through 14 specified countries would be subjected to secondary searches. Critics have since called the measures discriminatory and overly burdensome, and the administration has faced pressure to refine its approach.This seems a little dubious. Our intelligence services had been warned by no less than his own father that the Christmas Day underpants bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, had developed ties to a terrorist organization. He had also recently traveled to Yemen. Are we really supposed to believe that he would have been stopped if these new measures were in place in December?
Under the new system, screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence. The system will be "much more intel-based," a senior administration official said, "as opposed to blunt force."
The real problem here is not airport security. If denied at airports, terrorists will attack elsewhere. The battle against terrorism will be won or lost long before a terrorist reaches the security checkpoint. Rather, everything depends on the quality of intelligence and our ability to act upon it. In his rush to vilify the CIA for harsh interrogation tactics, President Obama has blunted our greatest weapon against terror.