Ex-Bush Official: Privacy Campaigners Have Fought Explosive Detection Machines



Stewart Baker, the second in command in President Bush's Department of Homeland Security, said the security system which allowed accused attempted plane bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to pass through security, board the plane and attempt to ignite an explosive substance on an international flight Christmas Day, should no longer be allowed in U.S. Airports, on "Washington Unplugged" Monday.

Stewart confirmed that there are several machines already existing in U.S. Airports which would have detected the chemical substance Abdulmutallab smuggled onto the flights.

"Why does TSA only have fewer than 200 of these machines?" moderator Wyatt Andrews asked.

"Because privacy campaigners have been fighting against the use of these machines," Baker said. "The House of Representatives passed a law just a month or two ago stating we want to ban these things."

The former DHS official also said the policy of tracking the weapon not the terrorist needs to be reversed. "TSA has very few identity based screening processes and its a very high bar to get into the selectee or no-fly area," Baker lamented.

What can domestic holiday air travelers expect this week?

"Longer delays, arriving earlier, pat downs, much more intimate pat downs and much more frequent pat downs, more use of the millimeter wave machines and I think generally a much slower process of getting through the system," Baker said.

"Once you are on the flight the last hour is not going to be pleasant you are going to be sitting there with your hands in your lap," he explained, alluding to the new security measure that nothing should be on passengers laps as the plane approaches touch down.

Watch the full interview above.

More Coverage from CBSNews.com:
Many Questions, Few Answers in Terror Case
Expert: New Security Steps a Smokescreen
Al Qaeda's Yemen Branch Rising in Stature
Tracing Bomb Suspect's Journey to Detroit
U.S. Failed to Catch Suspect's Active Visa
Abdulmutallab Shocks Family, Friends
U.S. Reviewing Security, Red Flag Tactics
Would-Be Bomber Used Powerful Explosive
Who Is Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?

"Washington Unplugged" appears live on CBSNews.com each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.
  • Michelle Levi

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