The Christmas Day bombing attempt aboard Northwest Flight 253 touched off a series of actions that cut off critical information to emergency crews and could have exposed travelers in Detroit Metro Airport's McNamara Terminal to danger if another bomb or accomplice had been on board, according to aviation experts and records obtained by the Detroit Free Press.
The flight from Amsterdam, with 278 people aboard, taxied to Gate A24 instead of going to an isolated area where baggage and passengers could be screened for explosives. A terrorism expert called the move highly inappropriate.
"In my opinion it's a violation of common standard operating procedure, it's a violation of common security rules … a violation of common sense," said Richard Bloom, director of terrorism, intelligence and security at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.
Despite crew and passengers having subdued a suspect who tried to ignite explosives sewn into his underwear, Northwest pilots radioed air-traffic control only about a disturbance — a man with firecrackers, the records show.
Airport police and fire reports obtained by the Free Press also show:
• Baggage handlers continued to unload luggage from the plane even though a ramp supervisor said he believed he overheard terrorism suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab say, "There's a bomb on the plane" as he was escorted off.
• The area was not evacuated, and there was no immediate search for a bomb.
• Authorities moved the aircraft to an isolated area only after a passenger who sat next to Abdulmutallab told authorities the suspect had left behind a carry-on bag. That was nearly two hours after the plane landed.
• Passengers exited the plane without being searched.
Stephen Luckey, a security consultant who had spoken to the captain of the flight after the incident, said if an airline crew believes that a bomb is aboard a jet, then it should be directed to park in a remote area.
I guess the critics weren't bed-wetters.
And, I guess the system didn't work, no matter what the homeland security bureaucrats told us after the fact.
Actually, it looks like we were lied to at the time.