What’s the Difference Between Ted Kennedy and the Suspected Nigerian Terrorist?

Late Sen. Ted Kennedy
Late Sen. Ted Kennedy
By Allan Lengel
For Sphere.com (A New AOL News site)

WASHINGTON — Five times in 2004, airport security tried blocking Sen. Ted Kennedy from boarding a plane because his name was on a terror watch list.

Fast forward to Christmas Day 2009: Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab waltzed onto an international Northwest flight in Amsterdam, underwear packed with explosives, hell-bent on blowing up the Detroit-bound plane, even after his father had warned authorities weeks before that his son might be up to no good.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Eight years after 9/11, the nation is still struggling to iron out the kinks in its airport security, a system reliant on intelligence reports and a web of terror watch lists — a system President Barack Obama declared had ultimately failed on Christmas day.

Asa Hutchinson, the former undersecretary of Border and Transportation Security for the Department of Homeland Security, fielded Kennedy’s complaints on the issue during a congressional hearing in 2004. This week, Hutchinson said that a lot of progress has been made to put together and refine various post 9/11 terror watch lists. Then he added:

“That doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Most likely it’s flawed and needs to be revisited.”

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