Commentary: Freedom, security are a delicate balanace

The Sacramento BeeJanuary 11, 2010 

As President Barack Obama made clear this week, any number of security measures already in place could and should have prevented would-be airline bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab from boarding a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day.

Information available to intelligence operatives wasn't analyzed and disseminated as fast as it should have been. A simple misspelling of the suspect's name left State Department authorities unaware that he had a multiple-entry visa to enter the United States.

Shockingly lax screening at the Amsterdam airport compounded those initial missteps. That a man who purchased a one-way ticket in cash and boarded an airline to the United States without luggage could have escaped more thorough scrutiny is, frankly, stunning.

The challenge for the president is to adjust to this high-profile failure without overreacting. Sensibly, Obama has ordered a "strengthening of our international partnerships to improve aviation screening and security." He also wants to employ "greater use of advanced explosive detection technologies … including imaging technologies."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.

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