By Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | 8/22/2008

What is the future of aviation security? Is there anyone trained onboard? To discuss these questions with us today, Frontpage has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests today are:

Jeffrey Denning, a former undercover Federal Air Marshal, and the co-owner of Liberty Protective Solutions, LLC. He has worked as a private security contractor for the US-led “Roadmap to Mideast Peace” in Israel and Palestine. He recently returned from Iraq where he served as a commissioned officer with the US Army Reserves. He is currently the Aviation Security blogger for The Washington Times.

David Forbes, Internationally known airline security specialist and expert witness on matters of aviation security.

Captain Dave Mackett, an active major airline captain with more than 20 years experience and 14,000 flying hours, who, on the morning of Sept 11, was riding in the cockpit of a major airliner at 35,000 feet when the attacks took place. Believing, as many in the airline community did, that the government response to 9/11 did not contain a component to represent the perspective and industry knowledge of the airline crews – the first responders in the air, he and fellow pilots formed the Airline Pilots Security Alliance, an all-volunteer, non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides expert information and guidance to the public and policymakers to implement sensible and effective aviation security measures that provide real enhancements to the safety of passengers and crew, and real deterrents to terrorism directed at the commercial aviation sector. APSA’s expertise has been called upon by Congress, the Departments of State and Justice, the FAA and other agencies, and the organization has been the primary driver of legislation to arm airline pilots, as well as several pieces of subsequent airline security legislation.

Bogdan Dzakovic, a former Air Marshal Team Leader and a former Team Leader of the FAA Red Team. In the latter capacity he warned of a 9-11 type attack for several years prior to the event. As a result of his whistleblower disclosure against the FAA, the United States Office of Special Counsel determined that FAA executed its civil aviation mission in a manner that was, "...a substantial and specific danger to public safety..." He is a former officer of the military and has a graduate degree in Security Administration and currently is employed by the Transportation Security Administration.

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P. Jeffrey Black, a current Federal Air Marshal for over 6 years assigned to the Las Vegas field office. He is a former Border Patrol Agent and Command Criminal Investigator for the U.S. Navy. He spent 12 years in the Air Force Reserve as a Security Specialist in air base ground defense (served in first Gulf War), and later as an Aircraft Maintenance Technician on large multi-engine aircraft. In 2004, he gave testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, where he exposed dangerous agency policies that promoted aviation security breeches and conditions that seriously jeopardized the health and safety of other air marshals, flight crews, and passengers.

FP: David Forbes, Jeffrey Denning, Captain Dave Mackett, Bogdan Dzakovic and Jeffrey Black, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Jefffey Denning, let’s begin with you.

What do you think are the most important issues to start with as a foundation to a discussion of Aviation Security?

Denning: The undercover Federal Air Marshal (FAM) program grew exponentially after 9/11, from 33 air marshals to a classified number in the thousands. Those individuals have the burdensome responsibility to stop future attacks in flight. Having worked as a FAM, I soon realized that a lot more threatening, dangerous and suspicious things occur within U.S. aviation than the public is made aware of. Unfortunately, the air marshal management completely devastated and crippled the ability of very competent and qualified air marshals to adequately protect commercial airliners. The post-9/11 agency administrators have put the lives of passengers and crew at risk, and jeopardized national security. And it’s still that way today.

I remember dozens of training sessions where we’d run tactical scenarios but afterwards feel completely at a loss. We’d all feel totally aggravated because most of the scenarios – the things terrorists and dangerous criminals would actually do in flight – would, in reality, be unrealistic for us to stop based on the fact that terrorists and criminals would already know who we were and have the jump on us, or simply avoid targeting the planes we flew on. The preboarding procedures, the strict dress code, the all-revealing media reports encouraged by the FAM Service administrators, and in short, the predictability and routine, completely destroyed any hope of stopping viable threats in the sky.

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Today, over a year after I resigned and literally hundreds of others have resigned, a few things have changed, but the damage has already been done. The damage is irreparable without a complete overhaul of the FAM Service that would in addition, for instance, allow air marshals to work other ground-based jobs at least six months out of the year to avoid burn out. The result of this gross negligence is a multimillion dollar annual federal budget that is totally wasted, almost in its entirety because real, dedicated terrorists cannot be stopped by the continued mismanagement at the federal level. And believe me, there are dangerous and violent criminals and terrorists probing and rehearsing attacks on aviation security assets.

Secondly, because action is faster than reaction, no matter how well trained or how terrific policies may be, no armed, undercover law enforcement officer can stop a dedicated suicide bomber that cannot be watched the entire flight – including in the lavatory, and that’s impossible. A suicide bomber can push a button or flip a switch on an improvised bomb onboard a commercial airplane quicker than someone can stop him or her. Terrorists have learned from Richard “the shoebomber” Reid’s mistake. A suicide bomber is by far the greatest threat.

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Mark my words: unless miraculous changes occur with airport security, bombs will be smuggled on airplanes and many people will die. The time for urgent change is long overdue.

Terrorists want the spectacular. I’ve done extensive research and have taught courses on suicide terrorism. My findings indicate that, with only a few exceptions, on average suicide attackers cause very few deaths, often less than ten in a single incident. By comparison, on an airplane, one suicide bomber can kill from 150 to 300 people. A plane exploding in midair would be spectacular. And bringing down a plane full of passengers would cause tremendous psychological and economic devastation that terrorists hope for.

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While trained in rudimentary bomb threat measures, air marshals and flight attendants are not bomb experts; they aren’t trained to defuse explosives. Moreover, since the flight deck (a.k.a. cockpit) door is opened during flights, an improvised explosive can be tossed in and pilots, armed or not, wouldn’t be able to stop that.

Finally, there are many ways cranks, kooks, criminals and terrorists can cause danger in flight, but improvised explosives and suicide bombers are by far the biggest threat. In flight it’s nearly too late to stop a dedicated person with a bomb. If you want to know the scariest thing, your life and mine are in the hands of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and its airport security guards who harass old grandmas and think fingernail clippers are a dangerous weapon.

Forbes: My thoughts constantly gravitate back to the year 2000 and the first half of 2001; to the pre-attack conditions in the airline industry at that time; and an inevitable comparison with 2008. Congress was back then obsessed with perceived airline on-time departure issues. Realistic embedded security was not then, and is not now, a priority.

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The visibility, e.g. the screening circus, rather than the reality, of the security effort, does play some part in our apparent freedom from significant terrorist attack in recent times. But it also plays a critical part in the preparatory mindset of terrorists. They see what we do; they plan to overcome our latest defenses. Most of all they see our disconnects; even alienation of our own natural allies – from individual travelers, to foreign states; because of knee-jerk ill conceived rules that do more for bureaucratic power than for the security of airlines and their customers.

Another familiar and persistent historical trait still present is the silo mentality of agencies and of the component entities that should usefully, but do not, represent and/or bolster the protective layers. Education and training have not kept up; synergic motivation is elusive at best.

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So is it all hopeless, inevitable, a waste of effort?

Yes if we continue with the present façade.

No if we are prepared to listen and act upon what the genuine committed field-savvy experts at our constant disposal are ready to contribute.

I have the frequent opportunity to speak with flight attendants and their trainers during training breaks, as well as encounters with cabin crew while in transit.. I am lucky enough to occasionally chat with pilots, some of whom are personal acquaintances and some who are in one of my business locations attending ground school. I hear much about the inadequacies of protection; but arguably more about the questionable behavior of the agencies and individuals who are ostensibly there to protect them and our aviation system.

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For any reader who is interested, in October 2008 Praeger International will publish a three-volume set titled Aviation Security Management. In Volume 3, Chapter 8 my contribution is In-Cabin Security. The set contains a great deal of valuable insight. A listing can be found at http://www.greenwood.com/psi/book_detail.aspx?sku=C34652

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When I view what is happening to commercial aviation today, I find it incredulous to think that we could actually lose air service for an appreciable time, with all the ramifications that this represents for the world economy, our standard of living and the quality of life. It could happen.

Why? In my opinion two reasons:

First, we have not been prepared to pay the true price to support the future of air services – as passengers or as government or as investors; and second, we have failed to adequately accept and respond to the fact that terrorist attacks on airliners are terrorist attacks on all of us. Whereas that may seem to be a reiterative statement sympathetic to airline operators, it is really an affirmation that our duty and patriotic interest is to provide security systems that support rather than impose questionable expectations upon commercial air operations.

There has to be a trade-off here, for the public, for the users of air service. Accountability by government matched by accountability by airport and airline operators; as opposed to a culture prone to a perpetually shifting, media magnet and finger pointing exercise that serves the terrorist observer more than any other. Responsibility without accountability is worthless. For the past several years too many have enjoyed that unconstitutional privilege.

Neither airline, airport nor government can be trusted to be the auditor or final arbiter of security performance.

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Mackett: First, I agree with every single point that the other panelists have made, and echo them strongly. From incompetent, many times corrupt managers, to ignorant public officials and turf-protective bureaucrats, few in positions of authority have left aside ego and made the hard choices to be truly on a war-footing as regards terrorism. Even fewer understand how big the system is, how poor the preventative technology, how few our resources in a system this size, or how well-prepared the enemy. The managements of the TSA and Federal Air Marshal Programs, who should understand the challenge, have been a stunning embarrassment. They have ignored – and then classified – mountains of data that suggest another terror plot will almost certainly succeed, while whistling past the graveyard as the clock ticks louder and louder.

Because, if you follow the data, this is what you learn:

Organized terrorists are actively gathering intelligence onboard our airliners and in our airports for new attacks. That fact is an absolute certainty within our industry and I am literally stunned when I say it and anyone thinks it’s a conspiracy theory. Maybe they haven’t seen the New York skyline lately. The incidents the public has heard about, where Arab men sit apart after boarding or act suspiciously toward other passengers are minor compared to the incidents and observations the public doesn’t know about that leave no doubt whatsoever. Even though most weapons are missed at airport checkpoints, the ones that are occasionally found deliberately hidden are chilling.

If armed terrorists get as far as an airport, they are very likely to get onboard. Seven years and billions of dollars after 9/11, TSA’s internal tests reveal screeners routinely miss between 60% and 95% of detectable hidden weapons and explosives at airport checkpoints. This doesn’t account for entire classes of explosives and composite weapons are virtually undetectable to present technology. Yes, we hear about the new super body scanners and explosive sniffers. But until there are both in every lane of every concourse of every airport in the US, they are nearly worthless – and that is still many years away. And, billions of dollars from now, if we ever do get them in place, we will have covered only the passenger entry point. Low wage airport employees, caterers, and construction workers, and TSA screeners, will still routinely access airliners with no inspection, on the strength of a background check that says they haven’t done anything yet. So far, three organized rings of airport employees have been arrested putting guns and drugs onto airliners. The only reason another 9/11 didn’t occur was because they were drug runners, not terrorists.

Once armed terrorists get onboard, the vast majority of flight and cabin crews will be defenseless. Several weeks ago, CNN reported air marshals cover fewer than 1% of all commercial airline flights at a cost of nearly $1 billion dollars a year. Without going into detail, I would not argue with that statistic. There are 28,000 flights per day and 840,000 per month. To put air marshals on even half of them would take a force the size of the US Coast Guard and cost $13 billion per year. It’s never going to happen. Air marshals can never be effective in the numbers available unless they are made a specialized force that focuses on those flights that active intelligence suggests may be terrorist targets. The Federal Flight Deck Officer program, which was designed to defend the vast majority of airliners against terrorist attack by using the resources already in place on all of them – the professional pilots – suffers from a dramatic lack of volunteers due to onerous bureaucratic rules requiring pilots to carry guns “off-body” increasing the odds of losses, thefts and accidents (all of which have occurred), and general mismanagement on the part of the same Federal Air Marshal Service routinely accused of obstructing its own officers.

One pilot has already lost his career as a result of an accident that would not have happened except for the nonstandard gun procedures not required of any other armed official. In the end, 2/3 of all pilots – a resource of 50,000 professional men and women – refuse to volunteer for this critical, cost-effective program, solely due to the way it is managed. As a result, today only about ten percent of our pilots are able to defend their cockpits. Put another way, if Al Qaeda attacks ten airliners tomorrow, nine of them are going to hit buildings or be shot down.

Add to this that flight and cabin crews receive almost no threat information and the tactical training offered us is laughable, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. We’re basically told to fight terrorists with every resource we have – and then we’re given no resources.

The result will be another successful attack or the shootdown of one or more commercial airliners full of innocent passengers. Again, this is what the data suggests. Every airliner on 9/11 was defenseless, every airliner crashed. Even the heroic passengers of Flight 93, proved you cannot survive a fight in the cockpit. The attack may take the form of one or simultaneous suicide bombings, as another panelist suggested. Many explosives are nearly undetectable and the simultaneous detonation of multiple airliners (already attempted years ago) would do lasting damage to our industry; but our national nightmare is still the hijacking and use of an airliner as a guided weapon of mass destruction against a ground target. There are some targets which could result in the deaths of tens of thousands of people and the idea that Al Qaeda could successfully repeat 9/11 with impunity despite our best efforts would be an almost unrecoverable blow to our nation.

What jumps out at me in this whole discussion is that ALL of the people on the frontline completely agree on what the failures are and where the solutions lie – and that is rare. And if our pilots, flight attendants, air marshals, FBI agents, intelligence operatives and civilian aviation security experts are all screaming with one voice to be heard, how is it no one is listening, or being held accountable for not doing so?!

Today’s airline security cannot be a facelift of a forty year old system designed to prevent amateurs hijacking planes to Cuba. The threat we face is anything but amateur and the system too large and complex for general prevention and advance detection to be reliable. We’ve got to have a philosophical shift toward using the resources already in place to the greatest degree possible, and to defending the ultimate targets – the cockpits and cargo holds – instead of pretending that we can prevent the next 9/11 from happening in the first place.

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So the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was established as a result of the attacks. No effort was made by TSA management to learn why the attacks were allowed to happen so easily and TSA has made the same bureaucratic mistakes as the FAA multiplied by a factor of 10 or more, particularly when you include the billions of dollars wasted. TSA immediately promoted again many of the same FAA miscreants that were previously rewarded by FAA, there-by guaranteeing the continued life of this cancerous mentality. As a current employee of TSA I can state without ANY reservation whatsoever that the TSA bureaucracy makes the FAA bureaucracy look like an elite organization by comparison.

Just as Mr. Denning stated, I too predicted that the next most likely major terrorist attack against the United States will be a massive bombing effort directed against commercial aviation AND that TSA’s knee-jerk reaction will be to take away everyone’s toothpaste (July 9, 2006 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle). Now if little old me (us) can figure out these things what is the multi-billion dollar intelligence, law enforcement and security apparatus of this government doing and what are they doing wrong? They’ve learned nothing since before 9-11. Until we fix the bureaucratic problems in these agencies it doesn’t make any difference what mechanical things we change in aviation security. The key missing ingredient we lack in our government is personal accountability.

Black: If I had to sum up this country’s current state of aviation security in one sentence, I’d turn to a great man, Ronald Reagan, who once said that the most terrifying words in the English language were, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.” And this is exactly what the American people heard from their government in the weeks following the events of 9/11.

And the government told us that aviation security in the hands of the private sector was the reason for the failures that occurred on 9/11, and as such, the government knew what was best for us and needed to step in to save us from ourselves. There was just one big problem that resulted from this deception, the government subsequently created an bloated institution –– the Transportation Security Administration –– and proceeded to stack it full of high-paid bureaucrats that knew little to nothing about aviation security.

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So just what are these elements that hold the entire aviation security component together?

  • Screeners - Billions of dollars have been spent on fancy machines, and devices to assist in detecting guns, knives, explosives, and other material thought to be a danger to the safety of aircraft and passengers (and that’s another whole discussion). But the efficiency of those machines is dependent upon the competent training of those individuals who are assigned to operate them. Since the inception of TSA, screeners have consistently failed most undercover tests in airports across the nation....
  • Federal Air Marshals - This program has been wrought with problems, management incompetence, and rock-bottom morale, ever since this agency was assimilated into the Transportation Security Administration in 2002. What was once considered one of the most elite and well trained law enforcement agencies in the federal government while under the domain of the Federal Aviation Administration, has now become an agency struggling to control the haemorrhaging losses of its air marshals that are leaving the agency....he federal air marshals remaining in the agency.
  • Federal Flight Deck Officers - Soon after the events of 9/11, thousands of pilots came forward expressing their desire to be part of a program to arm pilots, so after Congress approved the program, why are less than 3% of all domestic flights protected by armed pilots? The program is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration –– do I need to say anymore?....
  • Airport Employees - There have been millions of tax dollars spent on ensuring that passengers are screened properly in order to prevent the introduction of unauthorized and dangerous items into the secured areas of the airport. But most people would be horrified to know that at most airports, the employees are not subjected to screening....
  • Airport Perimeter Security - It makes no sense to highly restrict the movement of passengers inside an airport, but fail to control access to the tarmac and runways where many aircraft sit unattended with their doors wide open. ...!
  • Cargo Security - Because the screening of air cargo on planes is a small fraction compared to the screening of passengers, there is a great risk of explosives or other types of incendiary devices making their way onto aircraft via the cargo holds underneath the aircraft, as was the case in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988. In addition, there is also the risk of actually hijacking a cargo only aircraft....
  • Intra-Agency Communication - Government agencies are unable to share vital and timely information with each other, as long as they continue to construct walls between them. Many believe that prior to 9/11, “The Wall” that stood between the intelligence and law enforcement communities, was a catalyst to the terror attacks. There are numerous reasons why one agency refuses to share information with another, from the fear of being scooped and losing credit for an arrest, to an apprehensiveness that the other agency might leak the information, to not wanting to work with another agency felt to be incompetent, to just not wanting to expose your own agency’s incompetence. But there is one thing for certain, if agencies continue building these walls higher, it will without a doubt contribute to the success of future terrorist attacks.

The failure of any one, or any combination of these security elements could be the weakest link that breaks and leads to a catastrophic failure in the security aviation component as a whole. Yet today we see an abundance of failures in each and every one of these security elements, which is why I believe these elements are the most important issues that should be addressed when discussing aviation security.

You can be sure that terrorist networks are probing these failures every day, compiling notes and strategies, and the next terrorist attack will most certainly take advantage of these weak links. It’s not a matter of if the attacks are going to occur –– it’s a matter of when.

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.... September 11th was the most horrific terrorist event the world has ever seen, and yet we still lack security in midair.

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Forbes: This is difficult to write; but here goes.

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We have been spinning our wheels for years. Any difference we may have made is minimal....

But this transcends aviation security. There is a serious national malaise.

Let me explain.

Our good friend Steve Elson in his angry moments should have frightened the hell out of those pompous idiots cowering in DC meeting rooms, but they were not afraid; they are not smart enough for that. What they underestimated was how smart and perceptive Steve is; and so I unashamedly repeat here what he has said more than once in our exchanges;

‘We are doomed!’

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The historical case for recognizing the signs of national decline are overwhelming; and the most common malaise in the downward spiral of once mighty empires is persistent denial of the fact of decline. Similar in a way to the much lesser event of a recession – we are told afterwards that we were actually in it before the government or fiancé industry would admit it!

So I am saying, we cannot expect to do anything more; nor to see any effective improvement in; aviation security.

Only a revolutionary event of unthinkable scale is going to do that.

Begin by asking ourselves the question:

“Given today’s threat to the financial viability of airlines, what would the consequences be if an attack similar to 9/11 occurred in the US right now?”

How about fifteen to twenty years before commercial aviation could recover? No commercial flights – military carriage of selected civilians only – for two or three years at the outset?

Aside from other depressing domestic consequences, the emerging, growing economies of the world would not stand and wait. They will ascend to positions of relative superpower more rapidly than we can begin to imagine.

I recommend reading ‘The Post-American World’ by Fareed Zakaria [W.W.Norton 2008]....

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One other book seems to be an appropriate reference because it shows how the United States has been ignoring the lessons of history for decades, notably underestimating the enemy. I read this for a number of reasons; and have reflected that defiance and denial of history has worsened here since it was written then revised in 2002. The malaise goes right down to street and ball game level; the sheep we call American airline passengers are, like a lot of other aspects of life, going to get the services they deserve. I call them sheep because that is how they have been behaving while we have thrashed ourselves stupid trying to protect the system they depend upon. In my travels this and last year alone, I have personally witnessed another significant persistent sign that has tended to confirm my thinking - the appetite and eagerness of Asians who want to emulate America without being a part of it.

The book? Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam.

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So, unless a real leader should emerge; a visionary with a Pied Piper quality, then the direction appears set. Looking to the horizon, there is no such person there. Moreover it seems that a polarized nation is not ready for such leadership.

There is now so much to remedy; so much to repair, it will take a collapse of seriously regressive proportions to turn this big ship to a more optimistic course, the ‘crew’ uniting behind its Captain. That collapse could be the airline system; but will a better aviation security system emerge? I doubt it.

Mackett: So much has been said here, truthfully, and with so much eloquence and commitment – by people with impeccable credentials – that I would not do it justice by echoing it. Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That’s absolutely true here. The wreckage across all elements of airline security is so great that at times I feel like someone whose house was destroyed by a tornado during the night and I stand in shock, not knowing where to begin, as more storms build on the horizon.

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.... another 9/11 that kills tens of thousands of innocents will devastate America in ways we can’t even imagine, as we are shown demonstrably, how woefully unprepared we are and how, despite our best efforts, Al Qaeda can attack with impunity.

Specifically, the already failing airline industry will never survive. Even the strongest carriers will succumb unless the government simply takes them over. Flight crews who watched their defenseless colleagues murdered a second time will flat refuse to return to work but that won’t matter because there will be no passengers to carry either; and no amount of cajoling by the government will bring them back. The attendant economic losses will be devastating to a country already on the financial ropes.

The fabric of government will change as hundreds of senators and congressmen are replaced en masse in the next elections, and draconian measures are taken against the public that will change the face of America forever, maybe into something I am truly afraid to envision – all while emerging economies exploit (intentionally or not) our weakness.

What really stuns me is that the people who personally have the most to lose are not the most concerned. The airline managements who will cease to exist, the senators and congressmen who will be replaced for their arrogance and incompetence, the bureaucrats who know nothing of airline security and are threatened by those who do, the Administration who is charged with leading and protecting us – all whose positions will evaporate along with thousands of innocent Americans –are not terrified of losing their jobs or facing the knowledge they let thousands of Americans die. If I were in their positions, I would be moving mountains to work with, instead of against, the panelists in this discussion and people like them.

We like to think of airline security as just one more problem to solve – but it is these issues that make it so much more critical than the public understands. Right now, the business traveler and pilot are inconvenienced and appalled; but the majority of Americans – on their farms and in their homes – are unaffected, at least directly. If it’s not happening to you, why should you really care?! But that will change because another attack will change the lives of every American everywhere, and, depending on its ferocity, may make 9/11 look small by comparison.

Almost eight years after 9/11, our government is still trying to wrap its hands around airline securityexperimenting and doing damage control, while the next generation of tens of thousands of terrorists are being raised and recruited into training camps.

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If you put the panelists here in a room for a weekend, and gave them the authority and one tenth the money we now spend, they’d emerge with an airline security system that would be incredibly effective, unbelievably efficient, much cheaper and less intrusive. It would be a model of how government could operate if people who had no second agendas were allowed to work unencumbered. Maybe that kind of motivation and competence threatens the powers that be, too.

I don’t know if we have the time left for that to happen, though. The clock is ticking very loudly now and terrorists are developing new and terrifying weapons and strategies, and training with a dedication reserved for zealots, while Congress is distracted by the latest, greatest economic problem and the Administration spends its time on damage control in its final months – and the public talks about Angelina’s new baby.

I don’t know if I have the final word, but this is my final thought – a terrifying image that has haunted me since the morning of 9/11. An image of what might have been:

It is an image of our Congress, idling debating some miscellaneous piece of legislation – pontificating about its merits or compromises or “reaching across the aisle” – as the rear wall of the Capitol Dome begins, as if in slow motion, to implode – an almost impossibly giant airliner coming in behind it. And then every member of Congress present, looking up and gaping as deer in the headlights, as they have two seconds to realize they did not do enough, they did not care enough; and now it’s too late.

It is the image that easily might have been on the morning of September 11th, if things had gone just a fraction differently. And it may be an image of what is to come, if Al Qaeda returns to finish the job as they did eight years after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

So, whoever takes the time to really learn about this issue, I hope it keeps you up at night. Because, in the opinion of an airline captain, two air marshals, a former FAA Red Team member and an aviation security expert, nothing we have done so far is going to stop them.

Dzakovic: Wow! I consider it an honor to participate in this panel discussion with these other individuals; and I agree with their dismal projections of the course our government is taking, but we are digressing somewhat from the specific aviation security issues. It should be noted, however, that the inherit problems in aviation security are merely a symptom of a seriously diseased government.

Every single component of the TSA mismanaged security program needs to be re-vamped. From how TSA trains its inspectors, its screeners, Federal Air Marshals, the lack of training for managers, how it purchases the billions of dollars of security equipment, how it “invests’ in research programs and how it deploys this equipment and especially more fundamental issues of how people are hired and promoted particularly on the management level. The specifics on these could fill a book and I haven’t the space for that now....

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Short of an actual terrorist attack the ONLY way to determine how effective one’s security is, is by the efforts of a properly functioning Red Team. In fact, the pre-9-11 FAA Red Team (of which I was a Team Leader and Steve Elson was before me) was the ONLY organization within the ENTIRE federal government that correctly identified the threat, the vulnerabilities, and the calamity of 9-11. In point of fact, it was 10 years ago this month (August of 1998) that I personally sent a letter to the Administrator of FAA (Jane Garvey) and the Secretary of Transportation (Rodney Slater) attempting to warn them of a dangerous culture of mismanagement within FAA Security. Not only did they do nothing, but one of the first things TSA did when it took over operational control of aviation security in February of 2002 was to disband this same Red Team.

TSA did, subsequently, start its own version of a Red Team (IE: bureaucratically and politically controlled).... To this day, however, TSA still hasn’t grasped what the real value of a properly functioning Red Team is.

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My biggest fears now, are not the problems I see in aviation security, nor even the next terrorist attack; but rather the obscene knee-jerk reaction our unaccountable government will make to that attack.

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Spokespersons from the TSA and FAMS will tell you not to believe a word any of the participants in this symposium have written. They will use words to describe the panel members such as “disgruntled” and “amateurs,” and they will tell you that the panel members are just grunts at the bottom of the food chain who are not privy to the “real” intelligence that only the managers have access to.

They will preach to you that we are all safe from terrorist attacks and that aviation security couldn’t be better, after all, we haven’t been attacked since 9/11, right? They will publicly state what we have discussed here is “a myth,” while refusing to be accountable to allegations of gross mismanagement, waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer’s money –– all the while by hiding behind the “classified” curtain.

The readers of this symposium, as independent minded individuals, will have to make their own choice based on the information that has been presented to them herein by the panel members. Will you choose to believe the Transportation Security Administration, which is telling you that your family is safe and all is well? Or will you believe the panel members, who are sounding the alarm and telling you that the current condition of aviation security is in dire straits?

The future safety of you and your family, quite possibly depends on who you choose to believe.

FP: David Forbes, Jeffrey Denning, Captain Dave Mackett, Bogdan Dzakovic and Jeffrey Black, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

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http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=04A9C231-D610-43A8-AF41-7870E0DD3BA2


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