Indian + Diplomatic Passport = TSA Profile Match

by Peter Spiro

Another Indian diplomat gets the treatment, this time in Austin.  Colum Lynch has this useful wrap in WaPo on the issue of diplomats and security screening, see also my post about another recent incident in Mississippi.

I don’t get it:  Why don’t diplomats get a pass, like crew?  Has there ever been a terrorist attack undertaken by an accredited diplomat?  It wouldn’t make much sense, even if a country wanted to do terrorist damage, insofar as it eliminates any deniability.  I guess you could have a diplomat going rogue and doing al Qaeda’s bidding instead of his state employer’s; but is that small probability worth upsetting governments whose anti-terror cooperation is important to addressing more likely threats?

3 Responses

  1. While I assume you meant your questions (“Has there ever been a terrorist attack undertaken by an accredited diplomat?”) to be rhetorical, I nearly came to the conclusion that you were being sarcastic or ironic or something.

    “Diplomats” accredited to certain country(ies), namely Iran (although Libya and “Palestine” also come to mind) have a history of carrying out assassinations and terrorist acts.

    Do your homework.

  2. Sorry, I should have been clearer.  I understand that diplomats have run terrorist operations out of embassies.  But has a diplomat traveling on a diplomatic passport ever undertaken an attack on an airplane?  (Obviously not from “Palestine.”)  That would be the specific risk of not subjecting them to TSA security.  Examples welcome.

  3. Sorry if I was snappish earlier.

    Frankly, the Indian ambassador to the U.S. is pretty far down the list of diplomats I’d select for special/enhanced screening.  As for myself, I always seem to be “randomly” selected whenever I fly, or at least I was for my first few years as a U.S. diplomat.

    As someone with a background in both military demolitions as well as security operations, I didn’t let it bother me too much.  If TSA had/has me on a list, it’s at least a reasonable enough one given my personal/professional history.  Call it profiling or not, I probably met at least one “profile” that they _should_ have been subjecting to extra scrutiny.

    I guess since I didn’t “randomly” hijack or explode any aircraft the first dozen or so times, they’re relaxing their vigilence regarding me.

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