Conservative media have suggested that the Department of Homeland Security is to blame for alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad boarding a plane. However, administration officials have stated the airline failed to review the updated no-fly list after Shahzad's addition, and that sending the passenger manifest to Customs and Border Protection successfully prevented Shahzad's escape.
Drudge, Fox Nation suggest Shahzad getting on plane was DHS' fault
Drudge: "Security let suspect on plane." The top headline on the Drudge Report, accessed May 5, stated: "Security let suspect on plane," under a photo of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano:
Fox Nation: "No explanation why NYC bomb suspect boarded airliner." A Fox Nation post, accessed May 5, stated there was "no explanation why NYC bomb suspect boarded airliner" under a photo of Napolitano:
Admin: Airline failed to check no-fly list, built-in redundancy of CBP check resulted in arrest
NY Times: Admin says airline failed to act on notification of Shahzad's addition to the no-fly list. The New York Times reported on May 4 that "the airline he was flying, Emirates, failed to act on an electronic message at midday on Monday notifying all carriers to check the no-fly list for an important added name, the officials said. That meant lost opportunities to flag him when he made a reservation and paid for his ticket in cash several hours before departure."
Admin. official: Built-in redundancy from CBP review of passenger list resulted in arrest. On May 4, ABC's Jake Tapper reported an administration official's statement that "there was a breakdown at the Emirates level" but that "redundancy is built in" via sending locked-in passenger manifests to the Customs and Border Protection Agency. It was a CBP official who caught Shahzad's name and stopped the plane from taking off. From Tapper's report:
So how was he able to board the Emirates Airlines flight to Dubai?
"It takes a few hours for the airlines system to catch up," a senior administration official tells ABC news.
Another senior administration official adds that Emirates refreshes their system to update with US intelligence information periodically - but not frequently.
In any case, the first official says that airlines were "within minutes" of Shahzad being put on the no-fly list told to "look at a web-board" and manually check its passenger manifest against the news on the web board.
"That appears to not have happened" the official says. "For whatever reason there was a breakdown at the Emirates level."
Emirates Airlines provided its locked-in passenger manifest to the Customs and Border Protection agency. The plane at that point can leave. But a CBP official caught Shahzad's name on the manifest and the plane never left the gate.
"That redundancy is built in," the official says. "It's not luck it's design. It was good work by CBP."
Bush official: Airlines to blame for U.S. not checking documents upon exiting country. Tapper also reported on May 4 that a Bush official blamed the airline industry for opposing efforts to require outgoing passengers to present identification before getting on international flights:
A former Bush administration official tells ABC news that after 9/11, the counterterrorism community proposed a new requirement for all those leaving the U.S. to present their papers and documentation, "but the airlines went ballistic."
The former Bush administration official recalls airline executives and their representatives complaining that this added layer would "cause delay and would be expensive."
And ultimately that argument won the day.
Since leaving office, the official has noticed that many other Western nations require such a step.