The new millimeter-wave body scanners soon to be deployed in airports throughout the United States would not have detected the explosive device smuggled aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day by Umar Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man reportedly trained by a Yemen-based al-Qaeda terrorist cell to destroy the plane over Detroit.
In the wake of a nearly fatal display of U.S. security and intelligence agencies inability to protect the United States from airborne terrorists, the White House has joined forces with its equally befuddled British counterpart and announced a roster of responses aimed at preventing similar slip-ups in the future.
Errol Southers, President Obama's nominee to head the Transportation Security Administration, faced additional confirmation problems with revelations about misuse of criminal history information. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) had already been opposing confirmation because Southers, the senator believes, will not oppose the unionization of TSA screeners. When the Department of Homeland Security was created, the unionization of staff was a major issue. DeMint has indicated that the responses from Southers regarding future unionization of screeners (something the senator opposes) are unsatisfactory.