He bought his ticket with cash - a one way ticket from Nigeria to Detroit with a change in Amsterdam. He had no luggage, he was on a U.S. "watch-list," and his visa stated that he was visiting the United States for a "religious ceremony," which is apparently code by jihadis for martyrdom.
Now it's possible somebody with the "Going to U.S. for Religious Ceremony" designation on his visa with a one-way cash ticket and no luggage is an okay fellow, but you might want to check him out just a little more before you let him on the plane.
But that didn't happen, neither in Nigeria where government security screened him nor in Amsterdam where secondary security - private security personnel hired by the airlines - screened him again.
So he was able to get on a plane with an explosive secured to his penis.
And the Obama administration said "the system worked."
Now let me tell you my experience in the Rochester airport on Saturday, the day after Christmas.
The initial screening was no more rigorous then when we flew before Christmas. Shoes off, bags through security. I kept my contact solution and deodorant in my carry-on bag, nobody said a thing about them. But they were both less than 3 ounces, so I think those are allowed.
Next, we had to walk by an additional security checkpoint with a very important looking guy standing there with his arms folded scrutinizing everybody. That was an added layer of security but again, we got by without incident.
Once we got inside and found our flight had been delayed 3 or 4 hours, we sat and watched these four security goons in blue come out of a door every so often, slap on some plastic gloves and randomly search people stuck in the airport waiting for delayed flights - people who had already been through security.
The searches seemed random - grab a couple of people off a line and pat them down and search their clothes. Scrutinize the chapstick in their shirt pockets. Open their bags and see what magazine they brought for the flight. You know, really important stuff.
As I sat with my girlfriend waiting for our delayed flight to Newark to board, I wondered aloud how I would react if the goons in blue decided I needed to be searched. Already peeved by the flight delay, I didn't think I would react too well. Probably like Arlo Guthrie at the end of Alice's Restaurant:
Security Goon: Sir, would you please stand up so you can be searched.
Me: Officer Obey, you got a lot of damned gall searching me. I mean, I mean, here I am, sitting on the Group W airport bench, waiting for my delayed flight to Newark, drinking the last of my coffee which I cannot replace because the entire god damned Rochester airport shuts down at 8 PM and there is nowhere else to buy coffee, and holding my disgusting Subway sandwich which I had to buy because there is no other vegetarian food option in this rinky-dink airport, and you want to search me because you think I might be a terrorist with an explosive powder strapped to my penis who wants to blow up women, children and Continental Airlines property?
Yeah, I just don't think that rant to security would have gone so well, not even if I was as charming as Arlo or sang it to Officer Obey and the rest of the security goons in four part harmony on the guitar.
And yet, the silliness with which they were randomly picking people to search and the things they were searching for sure did echo the ridiculousness of Officer Obey and Arlo's arrest for littering in Alice's Restaurant.
Another example of American blind justice indeed.
Effective anti-terrorism measures?
Not so much.