I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Obama calls on Napolitano to work with national labs to thwart terror attacks
In an address to the press about the failed Christmas Day bombing by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, President Barack Obama called on Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to work with the national laboratories to on technology to detect explosives before explosives can get on airplanes.
Earlier this week, Congressman Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., wrote a letter to Napolitano asking her to consider using Los Alamos National Laboratory technology to help detect liquid explosives.
The Christmas Day terror attack involved Abdulmutallab failing to detonate the explosive PETN reportedly sewn into his underwear while on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
Obama said of the failed attack, “at this stage in the review process it appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies.”
Later in the address, Obama mentioned the national laboratories; Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory are both located in New Mexico.
“And today, I’m directing that the Department of Homeland Security take additional steps, including: strengthening our international partnerships to improve aviation screening and security around the world; greater use of the advanced explosive detection technologies that we already have, including imaging technology; and working aggressively, in cooperation with the Department of Energy and our National Labs, to develop and deploy the next generation of screening technologies,” Obama said in his address to the media according to White House transcripts.
“As we work to address the vulnerabilities this plot has exposed, we must institute systems and technologies that would prevent the specific security breaches on Flight 253 while having the vision and flexibility to deter future threats,” said Luján in a statement sent to the press Wednesday morning. “An overarching objective of these applications is to get the traveling public through security in a rapid manner.”
Luján specifically referred to MagViz technology in the statement.
Los Alamos’ Petr Volegov referenced MagViz technology and its potential aid to airport screening in a pdf file from September of 2009:
Our group built a ULF-MRI instrument, MagViz (R&D 100 Award Winner), specifically designed to screen threat substances at airport screening portals. It was tested successfully at the Albuquerque Sunport in December 2008. MagViz discriminates threats from benign items using the same MR contrast mechanisms for brain imaging. This is presently one of the only non-invasive techniques that can determine chemical composition in multiple unopened bottles, and through opaque and foil containers and without exposure to large magnetic fields.
According to a LANL news release, the technology would “mak[e] airline liquid restrictions obsolete.”
This is not the first time Luján has brought up the MagViz technology. In a March 18, 2009 hearing of the Subcommittee on Transportation Security and Infrastructure Protection of the House Homeland Security Committee, Luján referenced the Magviz technology while speaking to Stephen Lord, the director of Homeland Security and Justice Issues at the Government Accountability Office.
According to a Lexis search, Luján said at the subcommittee hearing, “The national labs are developing technologies that will improve the safety and affordability of air cargo screening and air travel in general. For example, the MagViz scanner is capable of identifying liquids and gels within sealed cargo or baggage using technologies similar to the Magnetic Resonance Imaging systems.”