The Syrian Wayne Newton

THE SYRIAN WAYNE NEWTON….National Review clears up the mystery of Annie Jacobsen’s terrifying flight full of suspcious Syrians today: it turns they really were a band (led by Nour Mehana, “the Syrian Wayne Newton”), they were booked by James Cullen of Anthem Artists, and they played at the Sycuan Casino & Resort near San Diego. The full investigative report is here, including pictures and entertaining video clips.

So that’s that, I guess, although there’s still one question I’m curious about. Lurking in the background of everything I’ve read about this incident (sometimes mentioned, sometimes merely implied) is that TSA dropped the ball on Mahana and his band. Why weren’t they searched? Why were they simply let on the plane even though they come from an official state sponsor of terrorism? What if they had been putting together pieces for a bomb?

Which would be perfectly legitimate concerns if, in fact, TSA had never searched them. But is there any actual evidence for this? I haven’t seen any, and my first guess would be that anyone traveling on a Syrian passport would automatically be subjected to a special search. Does anyone know if I missed anything about this?

UPDATE: Dan Drezner emails:

I heard the MSNBC show that Jacobsen was on. The one thing gov’t sources told the network was that Jacobsen was wrong about TSA. [The Syrians] were just connecting at Detroit — they’d been searched by TSA when they boarded their initial flight (in Boston, I believe).

OK then.