Monday, 4 January 2010

"No smoking gun" on Flight 253...

Got back to Hongkers, listening to good ol' Beebs radio and heard the tail end of a fellow saying that there'd been no firm intelligence that Abdulmutallab was going to try to bomb flight 253.  There was no "smoking gun, if you will", I heard him say.  I missed who it was, so assumed it must be a commentator, loosely using an ill-chosen, ill-fitting metaphor.  But no....
Turns out that it was not a journo, but none other than Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, who said "there was no single piece of intelligence, no 'smoking gun', if you will, that said Mr Abdulmutallab was going to carry out that attack against the aircraft".
Putting aside the asinine and spectacularly ill-chosen metaphor of the gun ("smoking wreckage" anyone?), what I don't get is this: why does there have to be some firm, concrete, evidence?  We're not dealing with  a court case, with the need for "probable cause" and proof "beyond reasonable doubt".  We're talking about a "suspicion" that a guy might try to blow up a plane.  And surely that's all it should need: a suspicion.  Suspicion alone, not "proof", let alone that "smoking gun", should be enough to stop him getting on any plane.  What gives?  The guy has no god-given right to get on the plane. Who cares if he's innocent, if he's suspicious, that's enough and he can walk, take the train or boat; he doesn't have to get on a plane.
Turns out that the Obama Administration could have taken (could still take, I guess) steps to ban anyone from the broader list of suspicious people from flying; but they have chosen not to do so. There's a list of some 15,000 (if I recall) of those that are "no-fly".  And there's a longer list of some 500,000 (if I recall) that are in some way suspicious, but who are not on a no-fly list.  Why not make them all no-fly?
In the US alone there were 790 million passenger flights Oct 08-Sep 09, so 0.5 million is just 0.07% of the total.  Stop 'em all flying, I reckon...
But they haven't, or won't take that logical step.  So meantime, there are going to be even tougher checks on US-bound flights.  Check one more convenience to the Religion of Peace ™