This writer suspects a link between the 2009 breach of TSA airport security procedures and the Christmas Day 2009 bombing attack on a U.S. airliner.
CNN and the other news agencies (New York Times, Washington Post) are covering the developing story of the Christmas Day airline bombing attempt by suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who is allegedly acting on behalf of Al Qaeda.
There has been no mention whatsoever of the recent breach of airport security procedures by TSA and the possible connection between that event and this airline bombing attempt.
The potential for a connection is obvious to me: could this suspect have boarded the plane, confident that the amounts of materials he was bringing on would be undetected? The TSA airport procedures breach provided details on screen procedures and screening capabilities, including the amounts of liquids and other agents that could be brought through airport security undetected.
It is thought that TSA is in the process of modifying and improving airport screening procedures and capabilities as a result of the procedures breach, but I believe that those changes will take time to implement. The only short term change in procedures that can be implemented right away is increased pat-downs and body scanning in order to try and detect unwanted substances that will evade detection by magnetometers.
If the suspect’s device had a minimal amount of metal, it would not have been detected by the airport magnetometers. Short of a random pat-down (possible anywhere) or an image scan (not likely in Africa in my opinion, where the suspect reportedly entered the airline security perimeter) to detect liquids or powders, security procedures are not terribly effective at detecting liquids carried by a person.