Travel Data Leads to Times Square Bomb Arrest

DHS officials pulled Faizal Shahzad off a NY to Dubai flight late last night and arrested him in connection with the Times Square bombing.  Two sidelights on the arrest drawn from my forthcoming book, Skating on Stilts:

  • First, while DHS continues to be described as a sprawling unmanageable department, its creation has unified US border agencies for the first time.  That has been a major success, allowing DHS to use both customs and immigration record systems to quickly identify risky travelers crossing our borders — in both directions.
  • Second, it appears that DHS pulled Shahzad off the plane after the jetway had been withdrawn.  The police weren’t waiting for him at the airport.  Instead, it seems likely that, during the day, his name was entered in a terror watchlist and then spotted on travel data (the passenger manifest or the airline reservation system) for the Dubai flight; DHS caught the entry just in time to recall the flight and arrest Shahzad.  This, of course, is the same data system that the European Parliament wants to cripple in the name of privacy.