I'm rather puzzled by the attitudes of Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano about the federal role in the capture of the Times Square bomber. They seem to think they have achieved some major victory in the War Against Man-Made Disasters because agents of the Border Patrol and Immigration services caught up to the alleged-bomber while his plane was sitting at the gate at John F. Kennedy Airport.
We have a man who has been identified -- probably within 24 hours of the event -- as a "person of interest" in a supposed terror bombing plot. His identity is known, and we might presume that the cops had his picture and some vital information on him by that time, too. Every law enforcement officer in America is looking for this guy, but he still manages to:
*Drive into JFK Airport
* Get past the layers and layers of supposed "Security" within the Airport
* Buy a ticket with cash (I thought that was a Red Flag?)
* Get past the TSA at the gate (I wonder if he had to at least take his shoes off for them?).
* Get past the Customs and Immigration folks at he gate since he's boarding an international flight
* Board the aircraft.
Two days after the event, the Federal Authorities are only aware they guy is not supposed to be on a plane as he's leaving.
Even the fact that the suspect was on a no-fly list two days ago wasn't even known until the plane was -- literally -- about to leave. How did this guy get into an airport with every Federal Agent on the Eastern Seaboard looking for him?
Yes, Homeland Security managed to get their man (allegedly), but it was a by-the-skin-of-their-teeth sort of thing. Holder and Napolitano would have you think, however, the system worked flawlessly. Mind you, they want you to think the system worked flawlessly with the recent Gulf Oil Spill, the Hutaree Militia Trial (which appears to be a bust based on bad evidence and political factors), and the Pantybomber fiasco. I notice that Holder made a fetish of maintaining that this suspect wasn't read his Miranda Rights immediately, unlike the Underwear Bomber.
Yeah, that makes me feel better.
Even more, this episode gives some awful insights into how Homeland Security works.
In her speech, Napolitano thanked:
* Immigration and Border Patrol
* Transportation Security Agency
* Federal Bureau of Investigation
* The Department of Homeland Security
...and probably at least two more fed agencies I didn't catch. And with all this Federal Expertise, Technology and Manpower available, just HOW was anyone put onto this guy in the first place?
Two street vendors saw a car on fire and told the cops. Two civilians and three city cops probably saved hundreds of lives acting upon their own initiative, while all those federal agencies and the shitload of money spent on Homeland Security almost saw the suspect winging his way back to the Middle East.
I sure hope this guy had the audacity to use the toilet and ask for a blanket before he was arrested, just so he can be charged with the "crimes" the government invented to cover it's ass after the last terrorist-on-a-plane fiasco.
Eric and Janet shouldn't be so quick to congratulate themselves. In the last two major incidents of terrorism, the suspects were quickly captured and the plots "foiled" because a) private citizens got involved -- at risk to their own lives -- and did the right thing, and b) the terrorists were fuck ups who couldn't detonate their explosives properly.
Neither of these cases (Pantybomber, or the Times Square Bomber) is an indicator of Federal efficiency on the terrorism front. It just so happened that in these two cases, we had the right combiantion of non-Federal factors fall into place to make them slam-dunks. And for all that, this time the guy still almost got away because the Feds almost let him.