The “Undetectable” Underwear Bomb Plot: The Merchants of Fear Strike Again!
With Senate intelligence committee head Dianne Feinstein letting it be known that she had been “briefed” that the latest “underwear bomb” was “undetectable,” it’s worth recalling who benefited from the original “underwear bomber” incident:
In the wake of the weird Christmas Day “underwear bomber” incident on Northwest Flight 253, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff, as if on cue, was all over the mainstream media touting whole-body scanners as the answer to America’s airline security problems. Since leaving public office in 2009, Chertoff had co-founded the Chertoff Group, a security and risk-management firm whose clients include a manufacturer of body-imaging screening machines. While some in the media noted this rather commonplace conflict of interest, ignored by all was a far more significant abuse of the American public’s trust.
In a CNN interview, Chertoff cited the Detroit incident as “a very vivid lesson in the value of that machinery.” One lesson that he hasn’t drawn, however, was about the unreliability of the security firm which allowed the young Nigerian Muslim without a passport to “slip through” Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.
ICTS International N.V., the Dutch-based security firm, was established in 1982 by former members of Israel’s secret police, the Shin Bet, and El Al security. Menachem Atzmon, who holds the controlling shares in the firm, was convicted in 1996 for campaign finance fraud while co-treasurer of the Likud party. The other co-treasurer Ehud Olmert, who was acquitted of those charges, resigned as Israeli Prime Minister in 2008 amid multiple corruption charges.
Although the rapid worldwide expansion of ICTS was no doubt helped by the much vaunted reputation of Israeli aviation security, its record abroad is less reassuring. In December 2001, the so-called “shoe bomber” Richard Reid also slipped through ICTS security at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to board a flight to Miami. And it was an ICTS subsidiary, Huntleigh USA, that shared security duties at Boston’s Logan Airport, where two of the four hijacked planes originated on September 11, 2001.
Interestingly, Michael Chertoff has close family ties to Israeli aviation. His father, an American rabbi, married Livia Eisen, who was an air hostess for El Al in the 1950s. “There are reports that she was involved in Operation Magic Carpet, which brought Jews to Israel from Yemen,” wrote Jonathan Cook in Israel and the Clash of Civilizations. “It therefore seems possible that Livia Eisen was an Israeli national, and one with possible links to the Mossad.”
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