ABC News: U.S. Warned By GAO, FBI About Danger Of Liquid Explosives
The idea of using liquid explosives isn't new.
Ramzi Yousef, the mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center attack, planned to use liquid explosives concealed in a bottle of contact lens solution in 1994 to blow up 11 flights over the Pacific. But Yousef was arrested in Pakistan, and convincted in 1997. He is serving a life sentence without parole at the Supermax federal prison in Florence, Colo.
Maybe our government decided the problem ended there, especially after Sept. 11, when the focus turned to passenger screening and awareness. After a plot by Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" was foiled, additional attention was paid to shoes.
But some parts of our government continued to be concerned about the possibility of liquid explosives, ABC News reports.
-- In February 2005, a Government Accountability Office report determined that the Transportation Security Administration had "delayed the development of a device to detect weapons, liquid explosives … in containers found in carry-on baggage or passenger's effects."
-- A different report, issued jointly by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, noted in its title the "Possible Terrorist Use of Liquid Explosive Materials in Future Attacks."
But in spite of the reports, the government has not yet adopted technology to trace liquid explosives. The only defense thus far: not allowing any liquids onto airplanes.
The most advanced technology to detect explosives is a new trace portal now installed in 33 airports, according to the Transportation Security Administration. These portals blow puffs of air on passengers and then test tiny particles collected from the puff.
Perhaps the answer will soon be an end to all carry-on luggage. Or a "taste test" -- if you can't drink what's in your soda can, baby bottle, etc., then you can't bring it on board (liquid explosives are fatal if swallowed.)
But the better way to fight the "war on terror" is to develop the technology to win that war. The Bush Administration would do well to announce that it has either a) funded research to develop the technology to trace liquid explosives or b) that it plans to do so immediately.