Why Airline Food Sucks

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Good‘s Peter Smith has an interesting review of the history of airline food, which has never been good and is getting worse (when it’s available at all).   In the I Did Not Know That category:

But even under optimal conditions, cooked to the exact specifications of the latest celebrity chefs hired to reinvigorate flaccid airline fare, the taste of food changes when you’re inside a parched, hypobaric metal tube that’s vibrating and humming along at 550 miles per hour.

Recently, Germany’s Lufthansa Airlines conducted research inside a stationary Airbus A310 designed to replicate flying conditions. Deutche Welle reported that flyers said their taste buds felt dulled, requiring 20 percent more sugar and salt (explaining the particular appeal of V-8 or a Bloody Mary).

I haven’t noticed this effect when tasting commodity items that are directly comparable to outside fare, such as Pringles, peanuts, and the like. Also, thankfully, Dewars and Glenfiddich taste just as good — if not better — when I’m crammed into an airplane seat than sitting comfortably in front on my television at home.  Or perhaps they’re just more necessary.

via Andrew Sullivan

Outside the Beltway

More Fun with the Airline Screening Playset: Body Imaging X-Ray Edition!

November 21, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Daniel Solove’s post is a must see.


Is mindlessness over airline security confined to the TSA?

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


The quest to prevent future terrorist attacks upon and/or via airplanes has several fronts. One is in Afghanistan and other terrorist strongholds where such attacks can be planned and coordinated, as they were on 9/11. There, U.S. troops endure isolation from family and friends and put themselves at great physical risk. That risk includes having their gentials blown up.

The other major front is U.S. airports. There, the U.S. government has used different methods to prevent terrorists from boarding airplanes. One method is profiling. This may involve certain Americans, usually Muslims, being isolated from their fellow passengers for a few minutes while they are questioned and searched. Some Muslims — and organizations that purport to represent them — have vociferously complained that this is unacceptable.

Lately the government has employed a new approach to airline security. It involves a machine that apparently enables a security employee to see a passenger’s genitals. If passengers object to the machine, or are physically unable to undergo it, they are subjected to intrusive patdown searches in which the genital area apparently is touched. Some Americans are vociferously complaining that this is unacceptable.

With our troops risking not just their genitals but their lives to prevent 9/11 style attacks, I find the more extreme protests of both Muslims (to profiling) and members of the general population (to the new machine) a bit jarring. To be sure, people who are singled out for special procedures for no good reason have a legitimate gripe. So too do people whose privacy is is momentarily invaded to no legitimate end.

But most of the bitching I hear tends not to focus with clarity on the extent to which profiling or use of the machine advances the goal of preventing terrorist attacks. It focuses instead on the fact that the complaining party simply doesn’t like what is being done to him or her. That’s not surprising given the grievance oriented state of our society, but it’s not reassuring either.

In defense of those who are bitching about the new machines, I agree with Charles Krauthammer that some of the irritation probably springs from (1) the obvious senselessness of subjecting certain types of people to the intrusion (airline pilots are the obvious example, but not the only one) and (2) the sense that the machines are being used in lieu of profiling, not in the name of best practices, but rather in homage to political correctness.

But it’s possible that profiling alone is not enough, and that widespread (though not universal) use of machines will make an important contribution to airline security. It is here, I think, that the debate should focus. To my knowledge, it has not.

Power Line

Dear Airline Letters

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Jonathan H. Adler)

Here is what happens when airline let the TSA come between them and their customers.

UPDATE: Maybe airports that go their own way will save some of these relationships.

The Volokh Conspiracy

Airline Security Killing More People Than It Saves?

November 18, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Megan McArdle has an amusing letter to the airline industry explaining that she’s going to go from a frequent flier to an only-if-she-really-has-to flyer because of the increasing indignities imposed by airport security and in-flight economizing.

But commenter Morten Josefsen makes a more sober point:

How many Americans will die in car crashes due to the extra traffic, vs how many lives will be saved from the new security measures? I bet this is a very significant negative number.

It may be unknowable but he’s almost surely right.   Commercial flight is easily the safest mode of transportation.  The more of us who go out on the road taking drives of eight, nine, ten hours to avoid the frustrations, indignities, inconveniences, and delays imposed by airport security, the less safe we are.

To say nothing of less free.

Outside the Beltway

How Come Israel’s Airline Security Doesn’t Need To Touch Our Junk?

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Fighting against terrorism, an evil which rejects all the basic moral and legal norms of civilized society, is inherently difficult for liberal democracies such as the United States. It forces the democracy to find the right balance between the protection of civil liberties on one hand with the prevention of violence on the other. It is clear that the latest TSA policy which gives passengers a choice of having your naked picture taken or having your private parts groped by a TSA official is not “balanced”

Many of the issues in front of our policymakers have previously been faced by Israel, a country that has been under the threat terrorist attack since its inception in 1948. And we keep hearing why can’t we run our airport security the same way they do in Israel? The real answer to that question is here in the US personal rights take a back seat to political correctness.

Israeli counter-terrorism efforts have a simple philosophy, “Do whatever it takes to identify and defend against potential attacks before they happen.” This approach does not change whether there is a left or right wing Prime Minister in power, which is a reflection of the continuing public support for the way things are run. For Israel, the fight against terrorism is a fight for its very survival. Thus her government and citizenry take a different view of counter-terrorism, unencumbered by the political correctness which restrains efforts in the United States.

Also understand that anyone who complains that New Yorkers are impatient, has never met an Israeli. Israelis are amongst the most impatient people in the world.  Oh they have no problem waiting for an elder person to cross the road, but make them stand in line….no way! So any system that Israeli security developed couldn’t make passengers spend any more time at the airport.

In Israel, ethnicity, race and religion is a factor in a profile, as well as general appearance and behavior. And it applied to passengers on outgoing flights, but on people flying into Israel on Israeli airline such as El Al, and wherever the profile is being made, it is being made by Israelis. 

The ISA (Israeli Security Agency) calls it  “human factor.” Some part of that human factor would cause Al Sharpton to show up to picket the Airport if it was practiced in the US. Ethnic profiling of passengers plays a central role in Israel’s multi-level  approach.

All passengers travelling to and from Israel are questioned by security staff. For Jewish Israelis, the process takes a couple of minutes at most, with passengers being asked whether they packed their luggage alone, and whether anyone had access to the luggage once it was packed. Jewish tourists also usually pass through security within a few minutes, particularly if they can speak a bit of Hebrew or are frequent visitors to the Holy Land.

When my family entered the El Al terminal at Newark Airport, we were met by someone who innocently asked us where we came from and where were going. Then when we got into the terminal and were on the line to check in and get our boarding pass, an El Al employee in a jacket and tie nicely asked my 12 year old son (out of my ear’s range) why we were going to Israel. As my son and I were wearing yalmukahs our religion was obvious, so the man asked him what synagogue we went to and what was our Rabbi’s name. While he was asking questions, he was staring in to his eyes and over my kid’s head looking for my wife’s reaction as well as mine. The whole thing took no more than thirty seconds, when he was done with my son, he moved up the line and asked me the same questions plus the typical who packed your luggage-type queries, once again gauging my reaction very closely. Then he moved up to the next group and so on.

Like the Mossad, tank drivers, and air force pilots, Israeli airport security have that super hero, no-nonsense, get to the point directness and efficiency. “Who packed your bags?” “What was your bar mitzah portion?” “Why are you even here visiting?” This quick-fire interrogation was strangely reassuring.

Non-Jewish tourists tend to be questioned a bit more thoroughly, and may be grilled over the purpose of their visit and about their accommodation. Questions may be repeated several times in a slightly different format, and family members may be asked the same questions to spot inconsistencies.

However, the procedure for Arabs and Muslims can often be lengthy and irritating, ending with a full body and baggage search. Visitors who have passport stamps from countries hostile to Israel are also questioned intensively in what can be a traumatic experience for the uninitiated.

Some foreign journalists who have arrived from states such as Syria and Iran, usually via Jordan or Cyprus, have had laptop computers and even notebooks confiscated, only to be returned weeks later. Anyone admitting to leaving their luggage at an airport or bus station left-luggage area before check-in will have their suitcases stripped, with each item individually checked and re-packed.

Only when the security staff are convinced that a passenger does not pose a security risk will the person being questioned be permitted to proceed to the check-in desk.

In 2008, Israel’s supreme court rejected a petition presented by a group of disgruntled Israeli Arab citizens, backed by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, demanding an end to ethnic profiling as discriminatory and illegal.

If I had been more attentive I would have noticed that throughout the terminal there were “armed eyes” looking at my family as well as everyone else about to get on a plane. These observers where making the same behavioral profiles as the guy in the jacket and tie who asked the questions of the people on line.

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy. He’s worked with the RCMP, the U.S. Navy Seals and airports around the world.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioral profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behavior. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

There are other differences, most importantly is that you don’t just come off the street and get a job  with the ISA (Israel Security Agency).  These security agents are all ex-military (as most of the country is) and they are selected based on their intelligence and their ability to behavior profile.

Shlomo Harnoy, vice president of the Sdema group, an Israeli security consultancy firm which specialises in aviation security, believes Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines aircraft on Christmas Day, would have been detained “within seconds ” at Ben Gurion airport. According to Harnoy, a young Muslim travelling alone, on a one-way ticket, with no luggage, was an obvious suspect.

Harnoy, who once headed the Israel Security Agency’s aviation security department, believes investing millions in new technology is not the answer. “Whoever is concentrating on stopping old ladies bringing a bottle of mineral water on to the plane will not find the terrorist, or the bomb. The old lady is not a suicide bomber and the bottle of water is not a bomb component.”

Not only do most Israeli security selectors have degree-level education, they are trained to the highest standards. The most important element in the “human factor” is that the security guards understand the threat.

And of course, on every El Al flight there are armed air marshals on every flight, you won’t know who they are, but they know who you are.

As for my families first brush with Israeli Airport Security, we arrived in Ben Gurion Airport twelve hours later, tired but not even realizing that we went through a more extensive security process than we ever had before.

As the United States defends against the ever expanding threat of Muslim terror, right here on our home turf, success depends on throwing off the shackles of political correctness and adopting the methods of our ally Israel.

However the US is stuck in what seems to be an irreversible and deadly policy of treating every one the same. The ultimate result is an airport security process that gives you a choice of being abused by a machine or the groping hands of an untrained TSA agent. The present TSA policies put passengers and the X-Ray appliances that reveal their bare bodies in the same category as they are both treated like machines.

During her 62 year fight against terror, Israel has achieved a balance between protection of civil liberties and the prevention of violence. Her decision was that the sanctity of saving human lives, and preserving personal dignity,  outweighs the targeting and possible inconvenient questioning of a few.

Or in the words of that great philosopher from the band KISS, Gene Simmons ;

I think we should be racially profiling anybody from the Middle East … and as an Israeli; I want you to look at me first. I want you to search my anal cavity and look at my tax records. I want you to look at me first, and then at every guy named Muhammad.


Airline Traveler To TSA: “If You Touch My Junk, I’ll Have You Arrested.”

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Post image for Airline Traveler To TSA: “If You Touch My Junk, I’ll Have You Arrested.”

You probably heard something about this today. You may have seen the video via CNN (or read one of the NINETEEN stories on CNN.com about this — wow,) well, here’s the ORIGINAL story from John Tyner, the man who said to the TSA, “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.”

Here’s the video:

So, what do you think? Civil rights issue, or one man wanting the rules to bend for him? Have we gone too far in our willingness to give up freedom for perceived security?

Here’s Tyner’s complete story, reprinted by permission. He says, “Please spread this story as far and wide as possible.”

13 November 2010

TSA encounter at SAN

[These events took place roughly between 5:30 and 6:30 AM, November 13th in Terminal 2 of the San Diego International Airport. I'm writing this approximately 2 1/2 hours after the events transpired, and they are correct to the best of my recollection. I will admit to being particularly fuzzy on the exact order of events when dealing with the agents after getting my ticket refunded; however, all of the events described did occur.]

This morning, I tried to fly out of San Diego International Airport but was refused by the TSA. I had been somewhat prepared for this eventuality. I have been reading about the millimeter wave and backscatter x-ray machines and the possible harm to health as well as the vivid pictures they create of people’s naked bodies. Not wanting to go through them, I had done my  research on the TSA’s website prior to traveling to see if SAN had them. From all indications, they did not. When I arrived at the security line, I found that the TSA’s website was out of date. SAN does in fact utilize backscatter x-ray machines.

I made my way through the line toward the first line of “defense”: the TSA ID checker. This agent looked over my boarding pass, looked over my ID, looked at me and then back at my ID. After that, he waved me through. SAN is still operating metal detectors, so I walked over to one of the lines for them. After removing my shoes and making my way toward the metal detector, the person in front of me in line was pulled out to go through the backscatter machine. After asking what it was and being told, he opted out. This left the machine free, and before I could go through the metal detector, I was pulled out of line to go through the backscatter machine. When asked, I half-chuckled and said, “I don’t think so.” At this point, I was informed that I would be subject to a pat down, and I waited for another agent.

A male agent (it was a female who had directed me to the backscatter machine in the first place), came and waited for me to get my bags and then directed me over to the far corner of the area for screening. After setting my things on a table, he turned to me and began to explain that he was going to do a “standard” pat down. (I thought to myself, “great, not one of those gropings like I’ve been reading about”.) After he described, the pat down, I realized that he intended to touch my groin. After he finished his description but before he started the pat down, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “if you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” He, a bit taken aback, informed me that he would have to involve his supervisor because of my comment.

We both stood there for no more than probably two minutes before a female TSA agent (apparently, the supervisor) arrived. She described to me that because I had opted out of the backscatter screening, I would now be patted down, and that involved running hands up the inside of my legs until they felt my groin. I stated that I would not allow myself to be subject to a molestation as a condition of getting on my flight. The supervisor informed me that it was a standard administrative security check and that they were authorized to do it. I repeated that I felt what they were doing was a sexual assault, and that if they were anyone but the government, the act would be illegal. I believe that I was then informed that if I did not submit to the inspection, I would not be getting on my flight. I again stated that I thought the search was illegal. I told her that I would be willing to submit to a walk through the metal detector as over 80% of the rest of the people were doing, but I would not be groped. The supervisor, then offered to go get her supervisor.

I took a seat in a tiny metal chair next to the table with my belongings and waited. While waiting, I asked the original agent (who was supposed to do the pat down) if he had many people opt out to which he replied, none (or almost none, I don’t remember exactly). He said that I gave up a lot of rights when I bought my ticket. I replied that the government took them away after September 11th. There was silence until the next supervisor arrived. A few minutes later, the female agent/supervisor arrived with a man in a suit (not a uniform). He gave me a business card identifying him as David Silva, Transportation Security Manager, San Diego International Airport. At this point, more TSA agents as well as what I assume was a local police officer arrived on the scene and surrounded the area where I was being detained. The female supervisor explained the situation to Mr. Silva. After some quick back and forth (that I didn’t understand/hear), I could overhear Mr. Silva say something to the effect of, “then escort him from the airport.” I again offered to submit to the metal detector, and my father-in-law, who was near by also tried to plead for some reasonableness on the TSA’s part.

The female supervisor took my ID at this point and began taking some kind of report with which I cooperated. Once she had finished, I asked if I could put my shoes back on. I was allowed to put my shoes back on and gather my belongs. I asked, “are we done here” (it was clear at this point that I was going to be escorted out), and the local police officer said, “follow me”. I followed him around the side of the screening area and back out to the ticketing area. I said apologized to him for the hassle, to which he replied that it was not a problem.

I made my way over to the American Airlines counter, explained the situation, and asked if my ticket could be refunded. The woman behind the counter furiously typed away for about 30 seconds before letting me know that she would need a supervisor. She went to the other end of the counter. When she returned, she informed me that the ticket was non-refundable, but that she was still trying to find a supervisor. After a few more minutes, she was able to refund my ticket. I told her that I had previously had a bad experience with American Airlines and had sworn never to fly with them again (I rationalized this trip since my father-in-law had paid for the ticket), but that after her helpfulness, I would once again be willing to use their carrier again.

At this point, I thought it was all over. I began to make my way to the stairs to exit the airport, when I was approached by another man in slacks and a sport coat. He was accompanied by the officer that had escorted me to the ticketing area and Mr. Silva. He informed me that I could not leave the airport. He said that once I start the screening in the secure area, I could not leave until it was completed. Having left the area, he stated, I would be subject to a civil suit and a $ 10,000 fine. I asked him if he was also going to fine the 6 TSA agents and the local police officer who escorted me from the secure area. After all, I did exactly what I was told. He said that they didn’t know the rules, and that he would deal with them later. They would not be subject to civil penalties. I then pointed to Mr. Silva and asked if he would be subject to any penalties. He is the agents’ supervisor, and he directed them to escort me out. The man informed me that Mr. Silva was new and he would not be subject to penalties, either. He again asserted the necessity that I return to the screening area. When I asked why, he explained that I may have an incendiary device and whether or not that was true needed to be determined. I told him that I would submit to a walk through the metal detector, but that was it; I would not be groped. He told me that their procedures are on their website, and therefore, I was fully informed before I entered the airport; I had implicitly agreed to whatever screening they deemed appropriate. I told him that San Diego was not listed on the TSA’s website as an airport using Advanced Imaging Technology, and I believed that I would only be subject to the metal detector. He replied that he was not a webmaster, and I asked then why he was referring me to the TSA’s website if he didn’t know anything about it. I again refused to re-enter the screening area.

The man asked me to stay put while he walked off to confer with the officer and Mr. Silva. They went about 20 feet away and began talking amongst themselves while I waited. I couldn’t over hear anything, but I got the impression that the police officer was recounting his version of the events that had transpired in the screening area (my initial refusal to be patted down). After a few minutes, I asked loudly across the distance if I was free to leave. The man dismissively held up a finger and said, “hold on”. I waited. After another minute or so, he returned and asked for my name. I asked why he needed it, and reminded him that the female supervisor/agent had already taken a report. He said that he was trying to be friendly and help me out. I asked to what end. He reminded me that I could be sued civilly and face a $ 10,000 fine and that my cooperation could help mitigate the penalties I was facing. I replied that he already had my information in the report that was taken and I asked if I was free to leave. I reminded him that he was now illegally detaining me and that I would not be subject to screening as a condition of leaving the airport. He told me that he was only trying to help (I should note that his demeanor never suggested that he was trying to help. I was clearly being interrogated.), and that no one was forcing me to stay. I asked if tried to leave if he would have the officer arrest me. He again said that no one was forcing me to stay. I looked him in the eye, and said, “then I’m leaving”. He replied, “then we’ll bring a civil suit against you”, to which I said, “you bring that suit” and walked out of the airport.

Image: TSA

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The New Civil Rights Movement

Cargo Airline Sues George Soros For Fraud

November 2, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A bad week for the financier of American progressive politics got a bit worse. A North Carolina-based cargo airline claims George Soros and one of his partners designed “an elaborate shall game intended to defraud,” and are using it to duck a $ 39.4 million judgment. The company, Tradewinds Holdings a subsidiary of  Coreolis Holding say they hold a legal judgment against C-S Aviation Services, and seek to pierce the corporate veil to hold George Soros and Purnendu Chatterjee responsible.

The saga began when Tradewinds, an air freight carrier, obtained an entry of default against C-S Aviation in August 2004.  C-S was once the world’s largest lessor of A300 aircraft, and had leased planes to Tradewinds. Four years passed, and by then Tradewinds had been sold.  Its new owners included the General Retirement System of the City of Detroit and the Police and Fire Retirement System of the City of Detroit.

According to the plaintiffs, when Soros and Chatterjee entered the aviation financing business in 1994.

“For this purpose they put in place a complex, multi-tiered corporate structure designed to, inter alia, conceal Soros’ participation in the business, and ensure that the aircraft management company which actually conducted the business and might therefore be sued in connection with its conduct of the business, owned no aircraft and was otherwise judgment proof,” according to the federal complaint. “The entire business structure was designed as an elaborate shell game intended to defraud and perpetrate injustices.”

Geroge Soros? The guy who single-handedly brought down the Pound Sterling? He would do such a thing?

While Chatterjee was officially the sole shareholder of the company, Soros actually owned at least half the enterprise, “notwithstanding the irregularity of defendant’s failure to record Soros’ interest through ownership of stock,” the complaint states.

They claim that that Soros and Chatterjee grossly undercapitalized C-S Aviation for the purpose of defrauding creditors. Basically one of the richest men in the world didn’t give his company enough seed money (but he needed the money to purchase the 2008 election!).

“In a further effort to defraud creditors, while simultaneously evading Federal Aviation Administration regulations designed to safeguard national security, defendants vested bare-bones legal titles to the aircraft which they controlled through C-S Aviation, in Wells Fargo Bank Northwest,” according to the complaintNevertheless, Coreolis clams, “All profits from rental of the aircraft were up-streamed to the defendants.” As a result, “Wells Fargo never held any monies with which to satisfy a judgment and appeared as a ‘straw man ‘in the underlying litigations.”

Coreolis claims that Soros and Chatterjee “entirely ignored corporate formalities, disregarding formal management structure, kept no minutes of directors’ meetings or other normal corporate records … [while they] freely comingled C-S Aviation funds with the funds of other companies they controlled.”

But after 9/11 the aviation industry tanked, so the plaintiffs claim 2003 Soros and Chatterjee abandoned C-S Aviation and allowed creditors to obtain default judgments against them, the plaintiffs say even then, Coreolis claims, the defendants failed to wrap up the company’s affairs in accordance with the law

Coreolis claims Soros and Chatterjee stopped paying fees to Delaware, C-S- Aviation’s state of incorporation, and “hastily stripped” the company of its officers, directors, employees, contracts and assets, which they now use in the guise of a new corporation on Soros’ premises. (which is similar to what he wants to do with the US House after the mid-term elections.)

Coreolis claims this situation continued until July, when a North Carolina court rendered the $ 39.4 million judgment against C-S Aviation.  That’s when the man once convicted of insider trading sprung into action.

In response, Soros and Chatterjee paid the back fees they owed Delaware, to bring the company back into good standing, a step necessary for them to move that the court vacate its judgment. But the court declined to do so, according to the complaint.

Coreolis claims that it can’t collect its judgment because Soros and Chatterjee have “abused the corporate form” and rendered C-S Aviation insolvent.

They ask the Federal Court to pierce the corporate veil, declare Soros and Chatterjee liable and enter judgment for the full amount of the North Carolina ruling.

 Just one more look into the morality of the guy who bankrolls and controls the progressive movement in the US. Maybe he should take some of that money he recently gave Media Matters and NPR in an attempt to control the media and use it to pay off his debt.


Plea deal possible for airline “underwear jihadist”

September 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A plea deal. For an enemy combatant and jihadist who came so close to massacring hundreds, in a case that could not be more airtight in terms of evidence and witnesses. It should not be within the realm of possibility that Abdulmutallab could ever be a free man again. And yet, somehow, it is.

What does the government expect to gain in comparison to what it is willing to give up, especially when Abdulmutallab has reportedly been cooperating all along? “Defense: Deal discussed in Detroit plane attack,” by Ed White for the Associated Press, September 9:

DETROIT - Lawyers for a Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a plane near Detroit on Christmas said Thursday that they’ve talked to prosecutors about resolving the case with a deal.

The disclosure was made in a court filing seeking a new deadline to challenge evidence against Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is accused of trying to set off a bomb hidden in his underwear aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit last year with nearly 300 people aboard.

The deadline to file motions is Friday. Abdulmutallab is due in federal court Monday for a pretrial hearing.

In the court filing, defense lawyers said they’ve met with prosecutors on “multiple occasions, by phone and in person, to explore options for resolution of this case.” They said prosecutors are opposed to extending Friday’s motion deadline.

Abdulmutallab’s lead attorney, Miriam Siefer, declined to comment on the filing. The U.S. attorney’s office also declined to comment.

The government has said Abdulmutallab has cooperated with investigators since his arrest Dec. 25. He has been described as a young recruit to al-Qaida’s nascent terrorist branch in Yemen.

Abdulmutallab is charged with trying to use a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a sentence of life in prison. Passengers aboard the plane pounced on him and put out flames, then dragged him to the front of the jet where he was subdued.

Any plea deal, particularly one that allows Abdulmutallab to get out of prison at some point, could force the Obama administration back into a debate about whether terrorism cases should be handled at military tribunals, where the rules of evidence are more favorable to the government and defendants have fewer rights than in U.S. courts

The government’s opposition to a new deadline to challenge evidence could signal that plea bargain talks have stalled, said Alan Gershel, former head of the criminal division in the U.S. attorney’s office.

“It’s possible the government doesn’t want to drag this out,” said Gershel, who teaches at Thomas M. Cooley Law School in suburban Detroit. “This crime happened at Christmas time. We’re eight or nine months later. By opposing this, they’re saying, ‘We’re going to wrap this up or not.’”

Still, he believes U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds will grant the defense team’s request.

The defense said evidence turned over by the government is “quite voluminous,” and lawyers were able to meet with Abdulmutallab only once a week for two hours at a prison where he’s being held pending trial.

Former terrorism prosecutor Lloyd Meyer of Chicago said a plea deal is very likely in the end.

“If he went to trial it’s almost certain he’d be convicted. The government doesn’t have a smoking gun. It has smoking skivvies,” Meyer said, referring to Abdulmutallab’s underwear. “This is a slam dunk.”

But what is to be gained beyond a quicker resolution of the case?

Jihad Watch

Suddenly airline baggage fees sound reasonable

September 4, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Taking “God is my Co-Pilot” too literally.
American Thinker Blog

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