It is noteworthy that it was a tip from the Saudi intelligence service, rather than technological screening, that identified the printer bombs over the weekend:
11th-hour tip from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service set off an international terrorism alert and a frantic hunt.
The foiling of the package plot was a significant success in an era of well-publicized intelligence breakdowns and miscommunications. It was also a sobering reminder to officials around the world that quick response to timely intelligence rules the day. Despite the billions of dollars governments have spent on elaborate airport technology to guard against terrorism threats, the packages would probably have been loaded onto planes bound for the United States, but for the Saudi tip.
With GEOINT conference starting this week in New Orleans, seems like this might be a good time to re-examine the role of intelligence and the value of airport screening.