Heightened Security on U.S. Bound Flights

TSA Checkpoint

Landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport a day before the Fourth of July and I’m thinking about rodeo. Back home, in the small mountain town where I live, it’s what we do on Independence Day. It begins with a pretty girl on a broad white stallion barreling around the infield while waving Old Glory into the sunset. It ends with fireworks.

There might be a metaphor in that.

Fireworks is also on the minds of airport officials at Charles de Gaulle, which I presume is one of 15 oversees airports where the Department of Homeland Security are beefing up screening on nonstop flights bound for U.S. soil. Seems terrorists, real or imagined, are like those boxing standup toys that never fall over.

U.S. officials cite concerns al Qaeda operatives in Syria and Yemen are developing bombs to smuggle onto aircraft.

The “enhanced security measures” involve additional inspections of passengers’ shoes and property, according to Reuters, who were informed by U.S. sources who remained anonymous.

Officials said some of the new measures would involve additional inspections of passengers’ shoes and property. Those tiny bombs that can blow apart an aircraft are the cockroach of security.

All of the suspect airports are in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The DHS says threats have increased. They often do before Independence Day, like gasoline prices back home.

In a television interview, Secretary Jeh Johnson of the DHS said: “We continually evaluate the world situation and we not infrequently make changes to aviation security. We either step it up or we feel sometimes we’re in a position to dial it back.”

The agency shared recent intelligence with airlines and foreign governments, but has not publicly provided details. They have not increased security at U.S. airports.

“We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson said.

U.S. officials have legal authority to enforce new security requirements on foreign governments or airports when flights go directly to the United States. At some airports they help perform passenger screening.

It’s believed al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, are working together to develop explosives that could avoid detection by current airport screening systems, U.S. national security sources told The New York Times.

Shoe bombers, underwear bombers, what’s next, they wonder.

The Tarmac’s View:  You don’t take off your cowboy boots when you show your ticket at the rodeo turnstile. I expect departing CDG in two days will be a major hassle.

“This is something that happens periodically and people should not overreact to it or over speculate about what’s going on,” the DHS secretary said on TV, with no umms, no uhhs, no hesitations, no insecurities.

You’d think airport security would be full on all the time. Why does the DHS believe they’re measures next week will be safer than last week? I don’t know.

The entire security issue has more uncertainty than Heisenberg ever dreamed. But let’s give the DHS the benefit of our doubt. Let’s presume they’re building intelligence layer upon layer, cracking codes and nuances. Getting to some kind of Code Five. Or not.

Right about now, with hands over hearts, the rodeo cowgirls and cowboys are singing the The Star-Spangled Banner. Happy Fourth, everybody!

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