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ON COMMERCIAL AIRPLANES
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The Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday.
Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets.
DHS said in a statement to The Daily Beast: “No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.”
However, this move is increasing fears in the aviation industry that as well as guarding against bombs this ban could actually endanger flights. Laptops and tablets denied access to the cabin and added to checked baggage means that devices with a history of lithium-ion battery fires could set off a deadly conflagration in a cargo hold — where no one can put out the fires.
The FAA recorded 33 incidents in 2016 of personal electronic devices carried into cabins by passengers causing fire emergencies during flights, according to an FAA document reviewed by The Daily Beast. Of these, three were in laptops and two in tablets.
Two of the most serious were on Delta flights and both involved laptops.
On January 15, 2016 on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta fire broke out in a bag in an overhead bin shortly before landing. The smoke in the cabin became so overwhelming that when the flight reached the gate, passengers opened emergency exits over the wings and staff on the ramp helped them escape directly from the wings.
Flight attendants used halon fire suppressant extinguishers and water extinguishers to put out the fire, which had originated in two laptops.
On December 3, 2016 fire broke out in an overhead bin on a flight from Honolulu to Atlanta. Cabin crew needed three halon extinguishers and two water extinguishers to put out a fire originating in a laptop. For the rest of the flight the laptop was placed in a cooler with ice and monitored.
The FAA stressed that the 33 incidents are only ones that they are aware of. “This should not be considered as a complete listing of all such incidents…nor do they include all investigative and enforcement actions taken,” the documented stated.
Tests carried in 2015 by the FAA’s Fire Safety Branch have shown that halon gas is ineffective against fires originating in the kind of lithium-ion batteries used in laptops and tablets.
Even more to the point, these tests have revealed that the quantity of halon gas used in the automatic fire suppression systems of airplane cargo holds had no effect on a fire that begins as what is called a thermal runaway in a lithium-ion battery. Panels in the cargo hold designed to contain a fire were actually blown out in the tests, creating an explosion that would destroy an airplane.
Commenting on these tests, the Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations, IFALPA, representing airline pilots worldwide, said, “In fact, the fire proceeded is if the halon were not present.”
Some Middle East airlines complained to the International Civil Aviation Organization that they had been unduly penalized by the original 10-country ban. In response, the ICAO said that it accepted that improvised explosive devices in electronic devices have been “the greatest security risk to commercial aircraft for some years.”
At the same time, they said, they have asked experts to examine the safety risk of a sudden influx of electronic devices in cargo holds. And Patrick Ky, a European safety regulator, told Reuters that his agency wants airlines to avoid placing all the electronic devices in checked baggage being in the same container in the cargo hold.
At London’s Heathrow Airport, where 17 percent of all flights to the U.S. originate, is adding an extra layer of security screening for those flights at the gates.
As The Daily Beast reported in March, the original ban placed on the 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East followed intelligence gathered during a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. Bomb makers had managed to insert into batteries an explosive device powerful enough to bring down an airplane.
First indications of this came in 2016 when a hole was blown in the fuselage of an Airbus A320 as it was on its ascent from Mogadishu, Somalia. The airplane was able to make an emergency landing. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed that it had equipped a passenger with a laptop rigged as a bomb.
“The Democrats” are not “Freaking Out About Comey’s Firing”. Elon Musk, Eric Schmidt, John Doerr, Larry Page and George Soros, who own the DNC, are “Freaking Out” now that they be prosecuted for rigging billions of dollars of FCC, Energy Department and SEC Payola!!
by John Hayward
Hillary Clinton has blamed Comey for her 2016 election loss, but Marlow argued that if Comey had concealed the FBI’s discovery that Clinton was handling classified material irresponsibly – in the most spectacular instance, allowing it to be forwarded to disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner – it would have been “the end of the FBI as we know it.”
“You put your finger on it – the end of the FBI as we know it,” Fitton agreed. “Comey is very interested in protecting his own reputation and why he should have done X or why he should have done Y.”
“In the final analysis, what happened was that Comey has repeatedly and improperly protected Hillary Clinton and her top people from the consequences of their criminal behavior by coloring the law, misstating the law, and focusing on everything but the elephant in the living room: why didn’t he prosecute her? Why didn’t he recommend a prosecution? Why was immunity granted to all of these individuals? Why is it he said that he needed to prove intent, when in fact all they really needed was gross negligence, which was proven beyond the shadow of a reasonable doubt, and he probably had the intent there anyway?” he asked.
“Looking at the testimony generally yesterday, Alex, I just was reassured that Judicial Watch and all the critics of the way the Justice Department and the FBI handled this during the Obama administration are right, that the investigation into Hillary Clinton needs to be opened. He keeps on telling us other reasons why it needs to be opened, by disclosing additional crimes that his FBI has been covering up for eight months now. For instance, Huma Abedin mishandled classified information in sending it along to someone unauthorized to see, review it, or have it – Anthony Weiner, her husband,” said Fitton.
Marlow recalled the “surreal reversal” of Comey’s famous press conference, in which he laid out a compelling case for indicting Clinton – and then said he would not indict her.
“But the media has set the narrative, Tom, which is that he should actually be apologizing for saying anything negative about Her Highness Hillary Clinton, and not the way you and I are seeing it, which is that still we don’t know why she isn’t indicted, given all that we’ve learned,” he said.
“That’s right,” Fitton agreed. “I can understand why that letter was concerning to those people who were in the middle of a campaign. Mrs. Clinton’s conduct was requiring an FBI investigation, but the scandal is the FBI investigation was half-baked.”
He said Judicial Watch litigation has revealed that “the FBI was using Judicial Watch documents that we’ve gotten through the Freedom of Information Act to question some of the witnesses in the Clinton investigation.”
“Why haven’t they gotten them on their own, through grand juries or subpoenas or other law enforcement action?” he asked. “They seem to be following our lead here. I don’t think Comey’s heart was in it. He was always concerned, and he reaffirmed that yesterday, about getting involved in politics. If he was nervous about a letter getting involved in politics, can you imagine what he would have been nervous about if an indictment was in the offing, something that he wanted to pursue in the face of what he confirmed to be Justice Department interference and lack of good faith?”
“He’s just highlighting the fact that A) he shouldn’t be FBI Director, and B) the Justice Department was so thoroughly corrupt that he couldn’t even trust them to tell you what the time of day was, and C) that the investigation into Hillary Clinton needs to be reopened by someone independent and serious, and Comey should have nothing to do with it,” Fitton contended.
“There is precedent for this. I recall at the beginning of the Obama administration – you may remember this – remember the investigation into the four CIA saps who were charged with using enhanced interrogation techniques? They had been exonerated by the Bush administration. The Obama administration came in and re-initiated a special prosecution, an investigation of them. This is what should be done with Hillary Clinton,” he advised.
Marlow asked about the new standard of “criminal intent” as a requirement for indictment, which seems to apply only to “rich and powerful” individuals like Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t know why Mr. Comey is falsely stating what the law is under oath again before Congress,” Fitton replied. “There is no intent needed to prosecute someone for the mishandling of classified information. Just imagine, if someone is so careless about classified information that they leave it on the Internet equivalent of a park bench, of course they’re going to get prosecuted, and they should. That’s what Hillary Clinton did.”
“Not only that, but let’s say they said, ‘Let’s be sure because it’s going to be tough to prosecute her, let’s be sure that we have more than just the gross negligence standard that the law requires. Let’s say that we need the intent standard,’” he continued. “Well, Mrs. Clinton was warned repeatedly – again, uncovered by Judicial Watch documents the FBI had – not to use a system separate from the State Department system because of the security concerns. She acknowledged those warnings and did it anyway. No matter how you slice it, they had the case.”
Another Judicial Watch revelation noted by Marlow was the discovery of emails from Abedin that show “the Clinton Foundation and State Department were linked together on Haiti,” a relationship earlier revealed by Breitbart News Editor-at-Large Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash.
“There were some emails showing that after the terrible Haitian earthquake in 2010, there was an almost immediate conference call involving the Clinton Foundation,” Fitton explained.
“Now, Mrs. Clinton promised that sort of thing wouldn’t happen – that the Clinton Foundation and the State Department, there would be a bright line demarcating, and the two wouldn’t meet. But instead they did meet, and obviously we later found out that Bill Clinton and his foundation effectively ran U.S. government operations down there, despite Mrs. Clinton’s promises that they’d have nothing to do with government when she was in the Secretary of State position, because that’s what she had to do in order to get the position of Secretary of State – promising a bright line between the Clinton Foundation and her Secretary of State office, because both Republicans and Democrats and even the White House, Barack Obama’s White House, had concerns about it,” he said.
“And by the way, the documents we have this week also show more classified information being shared with Huma Abedin and others that Hillary Clinton was sending and receiving on her system. Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Fitton exclaimed.
Marlow criticized President Trump’s announcement that Clinton would not be investigated further, and asked how such a determination could be made when relevant facts of the case are still being uncovered to this day.
“The charitable interpretation of that is that it was a reactive comment, and he doesn’t really believe it,” Fitton said of Trump’s statement on the matter. “I really don’t think he thinks that’s the case. Technically speaking, he can’t prosecute Hillary Clinton. The operational question is, is the Justice Department going to be staffed now by people in the Trump administration who understand what their roles and duties are, and their obligations are, to the American people and do their jobs?”
“All I’m asking is for is the thumb of politicians to be taken off the scales of justice, and allow a prosecution, a regular one, to proceed against Hillary Clinton,” he declared. “Certainly an investigation or a grand jury, a serious one. That doesn’t necessarily mean that she’ll be prosecuted, but the American people will be reassured that the rigged game that went on last year isn’t going to happen again, and there’s going to be finally a full vetting of what went on.”
Tom Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch and author of the best-selling book Clean House: Exposing Our Government’s Secrets and Lies.