Posted by: bridget | 23 August 2006

Jeff Jacoby & Miscellanea

Here, Jeff Jacoby compares US and Israeli aviation security. Excellent point that America needs to prevent terrorists, not potential weapons of terror, from boarding planes. (Do recall that, on 9/11, many of the hijackers were on the terrorist watch lists, detained, but allowed to board anyway.) He touches on, but ultimately misses, the utter mindlessness of the American approach.

Detailed here, some American airports have begun to watch for odd behaviour patterns… except that they aren’t screening everyone who walks in, have only a week of training, and don’t ask questions that are designed to ferret out terrorists. The success rate of the Dulles programme is pretty questionable – only a handful of arrests for seven million people, most of which were on immigration issues or for outstanding warrants. Really, there’s more than one in a million who have immigration issues or similar – this is nothing save pure chance to pick those people out. We certainly tolerate (and expect) police officers to question someone, quite intrusively, when driving erratically; why is the same so difficult at the airport?

Most of the terrorist plots have required coordination among several, unrelated people. Would it be that hard to detect interactions among twenty-something men who all bought their tickets at different times and have no relation to each other? Heaven forbid we actually monitor anyone after they remove their flip-flops for security.

Also wondering why so few airports (Tampa International being an exception) have “sniffers” that detect explosives. They double as a metal detector; you walk into it, stand still, and a puff of air detects even minute traces of explosives residue.

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Responses

  1. The Las Vegas airport has one of those sniffers. It was really annoying, though; it was really sensitive so any type of body odor or if someone had been to a fireworks show – which are common in Vegas – you’d had to check the person, then the machine would take 5 minutes to reset for the next person to go through. It takes forever to get through the line, they definitely need to fine tune the system.


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