Flying the Unfriendly Skies: Up Next – Screening for Body Implants?

NBC broke the news that the U.S. government has told overseas airlines that fly into the country that foreign terrorists have discussed the possibility of surgically implanting explosive devices into air travelers. Just so you won’t get scared out of your wits, NBC adds:

“There is no indication of a plot at the moment, according to an official familiar with the intelligence. Instead, terrorists are considering how devices or components could be implanted in passengers flying into the U.S. from abroad.”

Right after the underpants bomber’s failed attempt, I wondered how long before breast implants make it to the official warning lingo.

On March 2010, DHS/CBP issued a female suicide bomber threat assessment. Via Public Intelligence:

“Al-Qa’ida, reportedly, is considering using breast implants as a means to conceal explosives, which would be detonated by a liquid filled syringe that would replicate diabetics injecting insulin. Diabetic supplies (insulin and syringes) are not prohibited items on airliners.”

But the latest report is not even talking about just breast implants. Do you have any idea how many kinds of body implants are out there?

According to, implants for medical or functional reasons are implant surgery (pec implants, calf implants, deltoid implants, bicep/tricep implants) that include surgical reconstruction of affected areas due to vehicular mishaps, injuries or congenital issues. Body implants for aesthetic reasons include buttock implants, cosmetic hip implants, and breast implant procedures which are “largely driven by individual wants and expectations.”

But those are not the only implants done out there.  The Wikipedia list also includes the following that all sounds painful:

These procedures are apparently not easy nor are they performed by all cosmetic surgeons; they also are not cheap. Note that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula‘s parcel bomb plot aka: ‘Operation Hemorrhage’ reportedly only cost $4,200 — about how much a fancy coffee machine cost in US dollars.  Body implants on the other hand such as breast implants can cost anywhere from $5,000-$8,000; butt implants from $7,500-$9,000; tummy tuck from $7,500-$10,000, not sure how much is a tummy bump, can’t plant a bomb in a flat stomach, right?

One of the talking heads on teevee said that surgical implantation is hard and that AQ has yet to perfect this.  Of course. Even if this is all talk, if this catches on and TSA reacts with another layer of screening and folks get scared out of their wits, then even the scaredy talk has done its part in advancing the goals of the terrorists; if not casualties then widespread fear.  On the other hand, given that there was an unsuccessful anal cavity bomber in 2009, this cannot be underestimated. The bad guys out there may be willing to die of tetanus or on the practice table of a rogue cosmetic/implant surgeon in the name of their cause. With enough practice, they may even deliver an eyeball implant that shoots death rays one of these days or a super EMP burst from an eyeball that can knock out the plane’s electronic systems.

But not to lose sleep or anything, Danger Room reports on the next stage of job creation in the airport security industry:

“Already, airport security companies cackling at the chance to develop new detection tech for surgically implanted bombs. An Indiana company claims to have developed an imagery machine that can find “explosive materials, narcotics, and low-density plastics hidden inside or outside of the human body,” according to its CEO, by analyzing X-rays scattered or refracted from the body’s soft tissue.”

Every scaredy news is a business opportunity.


DHS/CBP Inspector Gets 17 Years in Prison for Alien Smuggling, Drug Smuggling and Bribery

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air BadgeImage via WikipediaVia DOJ/U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Texas

BROWNSVILLE, TX—Former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector Luis Enrique Ramirez, 39, has been sentenced to a total of 204 months in federal prison, United States Attorney José Angel Moreno announced today. Ramirez, of Brownsville, Texas, was convicted in March 2011, following his guilty plea to conspiring to transport certain aliens within the United States, bringing in a certain aliens into the United States for private financial gain, accepting bribes in his capacity as a government official, and possessing with intent to distribute a quantity exceeding five kilograms of cocaine.

Ramirez, 38, of Brownsville, pleaded guilty on March 3, 2011. At that time, Ramirez admitted that between November 2007 and January 2009, while employed as a CBP officer, he was a member of a drug trafficking organization. He admitted that on Dec. 17, 2008, he allowed a co-conspirator to drive a vehicle laden with 12 kilograms of cocaine into the United States via a vehicle primary inspection lane he was manning at the time. Ramirez also admitted that between July 2008 through January 2009, he conspired with others to bring illegal aliens into the United States and to transport them furthering their illegal presence in the United States for commercial advantage and private financial gain and accepting bribes to influence him in his official capacity as a CBP officer.

Ramirez received the statutory maximum 120 months for each of the two counts of alien smuggling counts, the statutory maximum of 180 months for the bribery conviction, as well as 204 months for drug smuggling. All sentences are to run concurrently. Following his prison term, he will also serve 10 years of supervised release. As part of his sentence, U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen also entered a money judgment in the amount of $500,000 against the defendant, a sum representing the proceeds of Ramirez’s criminal activity, to the United States.

Ramirez’s sentence includes upward adjustments or increases in his calculated sentencing guideline range because he recruited other individuals, he was a public official, he received more than one bribe, he received more than $5,000 in bribes and he was in a high level or sensitive position and used his position as a public official to facilitate the illegal entry persons and narcotics into United States.

Ramirez has been in custody since his arrest, where he will remain pending transfer to a Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future where he will serve out his sentence.

A public official who sold himself for half a million dollars. This did say for two counts of alien smuggling, but not sure that means he only assisted two individuals gained illegal entry to the United States. Mr. Ramirez also received “more than one bribe” but how many more is that.  In any case, if he serve his entire sentence, he’ll be 55 by the time he gets out of jail.


U.S. Advisory Committee on Public Diplomacy July 12 Public Meeting: An Invitation

If you’re in the DC area and are interested in public diplomacy here is something that you may want to check out:

The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting from 10:00am to 12:00pm on July 12, 2011, at the Capitol Visitor’s Center, room SVC 203-02.

The meeting will include discussions on funding public diplomacy and the Smith-Mundt Act. The Commission welcomes commentary from subject matter experts from several organizations, including the State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Congress, and the public on this and other relevant topics.

This meeting is open to the public, Members and staff of Congress, members of the Departments of State and Defense, and all other Executive Branch agencies, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and anyone else. This meeting will be on the record.  The Commission is also working on a live webcast of the event.

To attend or request further information, contact the Commission at (202) 203-7463 or by 3pm on July 11, 2011.

For more information, see the meeting announcement here.