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Los Atentados en la Prensa Americana

Por Sin Pancarta - 11 de Agosto, 2006, 12:30, Categoría: Al Qaeda

No disimulo mi asombro ante las reacciones en la prensa americana en lo que se refiere a los frustrados atentados de Londres. El Journal celebra el éxito de las fuerzas y cuerpos de seguridad británicas a la vez que justifica como necesarias las medidas excepcionales de la Administración Bush. El Times, para asombro de propios y extraños culpa a las compañías de aviación por no invertir lo necesario en seguridad. Finalmente el Post prefiere cuestionarse sin en situaciones de emergencia como la vivida ayer los pasajeros de primera clase deben tener privilegios frente al resto de pasajeros. Ver para creer…

"Heathrow Alert" (Editorial de THE WALL STREET JOURNAL)


A lot about yesterday felt eerily familiar. Millions were glued to the news; tens of thousands stranded at airports; airline and other stocks were diving. Except, unlike on that September morning five years ago, no lives were lost, as a massive terrorist plot to kill thousands didn't come off.

More information about the Islamist cell unmasked in Britain will no doubt filter out in coming days and weeks. What little we know offers a timely reminder that free societies face an existential threat like no other. Yesterday's close call also offers an opportunity, without blood having been shed, to get serious about waging a war like no other. In this conflict, success comes in stopping the hostile act before it happens, not reacting once it does, unlike in law enforcement or conventional war. That's a luxury our times can't afford.

Yesterday's events show information is key to victory. British security services for months monitored a large extremist group that reports said was made up of British residents of Pakistani origin, apparently home-grown terrorists just like last year's London train bombers. Twenty-one people were arrested overnight yesterday. The cell allegedly was about to try to sneak explosives in liquid form into carry-on luggage and onto up to a dozen planes bound from London's Heathrow airport for the U.S. "We have disrupted a plan by terrorists . . . to commit, quite frankly, mass murder," Deputy Commissioner of Scotland Yard, Paul Stephenson, said.

Terror knows no borders, so no credible fight can be limited by them. "As is so often the case in these investigations, the alleged plot has global dimensions," said Peter Clarke, the head of Metropolitan Police antiterrorist branch. Officials emphasized how closely the U.S. worked closely with the British. Last night, Pakistani officials said they helped break up the plans, which some reports claimed were drawn up in Pakistan. Both Ramzi Yousef, who tried but failed to bring down 11 American passenger planes over the Pacific in 1995, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who masterminded that plot as well as 9/11, were caught in Pakistan. Neither the source, nor the general notion of simultaneously striking symbolically important targets, has changed.

Yet al Qaeda, if that's who's behind the Heathrow plans, continues to innovate, and we better too. While airport security looked for box cutters of the sort used by hijackers on 9/11, the British group planned to sneak explosives aboard in receptacles like plastic perfume bottles and possibly detonate them with cell phones. The new security rules introduced yesterday that put tough restrictions on carry-on luggage are an unfortunate but necessary response.

But terrorism won't be defeated at the boarding gate. The best tools to accomplish that include covert information sharing -- about passengers or bank accounts -- and data mining. It is also why the U.S. hasn't treated al Qaeda suspects as ordinary prisoners of war, and why it can't rely on its civilian courts to try them. And it's why people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are held at secret locations and perhaps "water-boarded" to get the most information possible out of them.

Yet these means are rejected by large segments of the European and American political classes -- as an overreaction, as a threat to civil liberties, or worse. A basic divide in Western society today is between those who view terrorism as new threat that must be fought with new means, and those who dismiss it as a law enforcement headache. September 11, Bali, Madrid, London and the other places terrorists have struck in the past five years were supposed to have settled this debate. But memories proved to be short. Yesterday offered the latest wake-up call, this time without tears. Who'll answer it?


Editorial publicado en el diario THE WALL STREET JOURNAL el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.

"The Liquid Bomb Threat" (Editorial de THE NEW YORK TIMES)

The most frightening thing about the foiled plot to use liquid explosives to blow up airplanes over the Atlantic is that both the government and the aviation industry have been aware of the liquid bomb threat for years but have done little to prepare for it. What saved everyone was apparently superb intelligence work by the British, who apprehended the terrorists before they could carry out their scheme. It is unlikely that any of the scanning machines or screening personnel deployed at airports would have detected the potentially destructive materials before they could be carried aboard.

The plot apparently called for the terrorists to carry explosive ingredients disguised as beverages, and detonators made from common electronic devices like cellphones or music players. One theory is that they planned to use chemicals that are innocuous when carried separately but could be combined into an explosive mixture on board.

Unfortunately, the aviation security system is virtually defenseless against such an attack. The X-ray machines and metal detectors at airports can"t identify liquid explosives. Officials have been fretting over this weakness off and on but have done little to develop and deploy technologies to block the threat. The government has been slow to buy so-called puffer machines that blow air on passengers to look for traces of explosive materials, and it has severely cut its budget for research on new detection methods. A few promising technologies are in the wings, but none seem ready to be rolled out quickly.

It is distressing that, after all the billions of dollars spent on bolstering aviation security, such gaping holes remain. Yet no matter what technologies are deployed, there is always a good chance that future terrorists will find a way to evade detection.

That makes us wonder if aviation authorities may have inadvertently hit on the wisest approach in their stopgap response to this latest plot. The Transportation Security Administration banned virtually all liquids and gels from carry-on luggage. That includes beverages, shampoos, toothpaste and other common items — everything but baby formula and medicines, and those have to be inspected.

Some passengers have complained about the inconvenience, and many more might complain if they were not allowed to keep their iPods, cellphones or laptops with them. But forcing passengers to check most of their items and bring very little aboard with them might be the surest and cheapest route to greater security.


Editorial publicado en el diario THE NEW YORK TIMES el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.

"No Cutting" (Editorial de THE WASHINGTON POST)


Should elite airline passengers get to skip security lines -- even during a national emergency?

Aviation officials claim that airport security waits yesterday weren't much longer than normal. But to travelers, some queues seemed longer than your average Siberian bread line after the Transportation Security Administration added new requirements -- including removing all liquids from carry-on luggage -- to the long list of security protocols airline passengers already had to endure.

Most air travelers took the beefed-up security -- and the occasionally interminable waits that followed -- in stride. First- and business-class passengers in most airports, on the other hand, didn't have to. As usual, higher-class passengers skipped most of the security queues at hubs such as Dulles and Los Angeles international airports. That's hardly fair.

We understand why travelers in first class and business get preferential treatment in airline baggage lines; it's one of the perks they pay for. Checked baggage handling is a service that airlines elect to provide, and they can administer it however they see fit. But does the same logic extend to an official public service? When security alerts like yesterday's bring hassle and delay, it shouldn't be only the travelers with coach seats who have to sacrifice their time to ensure the safety of American aviation.

The TSA insists it has no authority over queues before airport magnetometers. Its charge, says a TSA spokesman, is merely to screen all passengers who approach their security stations. How they get there is up to the airlines. Municipal airport authorities can also duck the blame. Because it is airline employees who check identification cards and tickets before passengers approach airport magnetometers, airlines have exclusive control over the queues. For that reason, the process isn't even uniform among all airports.

But the ID and ticket check before the X-ray machines is a security measure, no matter who's providing the staffing. It's not clear why people should be able to buy their way out of line.


Editorial publicado en el diario THE WASHINGTON POST el viernes 11 de agosto de 2006. Por su interés informativo reproducimos íntegramente su contenido.