"Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward.
And freedom will be protected."
President George W. Bush
( in a national address following the events of Tuesday 11 September 2001 )
This must not prove to be empty rhetoric. Someone has a lot to answer for regarding the breakdown of (and holes in) US airline security that permitted this to happen. It is simply not possible to stop determined suicide squads without taking some quite fundamental steps, well beyond mere precautions. Otherwise they will always have the initiative and will always find a way - even if armed Federal Sky-marshals fly incognito aboard 50% of all flights as a deterrent. Even if fighter jets manage to sacrifice an aircraft full of civilians to stop it reaching its target, the terrorists will have still won. The only way to stop terrorism, and take back the initiative, is to attack its infrastructure at its source and to identify and control the movement of potential attackers.
It may once have been possible to cry off taking costly affirmative action in order to make such a scenario as 11 Sept impossible, but no longer. Practical, effective and determined measures are called for.
a. Cockpits must be properly secured and rest-room facilities provided in that secure area (together with crew bunks for long-haul). We would even go so far as giving the pilot the ability to instantly anaesthetise the back end if there was any indication of an attempt to break into the cockpit or lure the pilots into the cabin by a simulated air-rage incident. After today's events are analysed, that will possibly not be too hard to justify. It is to be hoped that at least some of the CVR and DFDR's might have survived to back up what is said here. Today has demonstrated adequately that there is no training required in order to use an aircraft as a weapon of mass destruction - simply the fanaticism of a zealot and easily acquired basic piloting skills.
b. You have to re-examine the three-man crew concept. Two-man flight-crews are simply far too vulnerable to attack by either air-rage or terrorist pax. A three-man crew is quite a different proposition for a team of hijackers - and is always safer in an emergency scenario.
c. Terrorists are not random desperados. They have agendas, funding, motivation, support and planning skills and now they're also cyber-smart. They are clever enough that they can put together, in country, the infrastructure and logistics for a complex plan such as this without being infiltrated, leaving clues or suffering any breaches of security. That is one of the unique and immutable strengths of a fanaticist brotherhood. The fanatics used to proudly proclaim their achievements, now they cunningly leave that question of their identity as just another imponderable. So you can probably forget about relying upon intelligence as any sort of a security shield or alarm in future. Their communications are secure and Intelligence has been outwitted. Other much sterner measures are now called for.
d. What other measures? Quite simply the US and its allies need to
root out all terrorists from their safe havens. Safe Havens cannot be permitted to flourish. It might cost a few lives, a few "friends" and a few dollars - but look at the cost of not acting. Surely that is now evident. Terrorism, whether state-sponsored secular or religious sectarian, is an act of war against a civilian populace. Allowing terrorist factions or training facilities to prosper, untouched within their refuge - whether guilty of any particular act or not - is simply no longer an option. Rooting out terrorists that refuse to denounce religious, racial or nationalist objectives should be the basis of a sound foreign policy. Allowing terrorists to hide behind national borders, with impunity and faceless anonymity, is simply to ask for a repeat dose of today's outrage.
Hopefully the US can now think beyond reprisals and look at prevention - the disincentive targeting of the nests that nurture terrorism. You cannot allow any safe havens anywhere for the terrorists of this world. Never again should they be permitted to use a nation's aircraft against itself in these mindless acts of mass terror. So, for the pariah States that sponsor terrorism, their borders might now simply become boundaries that will contain them, but no longer protect their harboured fanatics. No United Nations Resolution is required for any State that needs to protect itself by crossing another state's boundaries in order to bring terrorists to account. Sovereignty is not an issue - it's just that the arbitrary rule of hot pursuit died on 11 September 2001.
Rest in peace all crews, passengers and victims of fanatical terrorists on Tuesday 11 September 2001.
To New York's finest and bravest, who went in harm's way and made the ultimate sacrifice for loyal duty .........
no words will ever suffice