Monday, November 15, 2010

TSA, Airport Security and Junk

Over the weekend some people were outraged by this video showing a TSA agent searching three-year-old, Mandy at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport:

This child was not singled out. According to TSA's website:
"We have to screen everyone, regardless of age (even babies), before they can go through the security checkpoint."
First of all, I'm sure that little Mandy's daddy, reporter Steve Simon, wasn't too upset that this happened to his tot. Secondly, Mr. Simon, who refers to his daughter as "cranky" (perhaps because her teddy bear was taken away) notes: "First they [TSA agents] tried a hand-held metal detector, Mandy was not in the mood."

I know what you're thinking...but she's a child traveling with her mommy and daddy, terrorists don't blow up airplanes while traveling with their families. I agree but, as Ed Morrissey over at Hotair points out:
"We can’t know for certain that terrorists wouldn’t use a child as a mule to get explosives or other weapons through airport security, of course. In fact, we’ve seen al-Qaeda use children and the mentally impaired as “suicide” bombers in Iraq, so we know they have no scruples in doing so."
Airport security evolves usually after incident, not before. The new "everyone gets screened" policy went into effect after last year's failed underwear bomb attack. Even though he should have never been on that flight because Umar Farouk Adbulmutallab DID NOT have a passport. But never fear because "the system worked". Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise, I mean the attack was a failure and if the crotchbomber hadn't gotten on this flight we'd still be at risk for this type of threat, right?

I support the Patriot Act (I know, I know...RINO) and any policy that keeps terrorists off of airplanes. The full body scanners which show your everything to TSA screeners, and may have shown Adbulmutallab's crotch bomb, aren't going over well with travelers. Not only are the body scanners seen as invasive and intrusive but some say they may also put you at risk for unsafe radiation exposure. The FTLA (Future Trial Lawyers of America) are smiling. Cha-ching! Not into radiation, no worries you can always opt for an "aggressive" pat-down.

Out: "Don't tase me, bro!", In: "You touch my junk and I'm going to have you arrested!".

Better Solutions:

One country comes to mind when you think of airport security: Israel. I have never been to Israel, but I know that they don't mess around when it comes to airport security. They use layers of security. They profile everyone for "passengers who could pose a potential risk" aka intent. And they don't have an ACLU.
"Before even entering the airport, all cars are stopped for a security check by armed guards. Cameras scan license plates to match them with a database of suspicious vehicles. Security officials said it's one of the many security filters passengers pass before boarding flights, some of them unknown to the passengers and many others still kept secret."

"The Israeli airport's spokesman's unit said the main terminal is equipped with 700 closed-circuit cameras and is fortified against explosions. The large glass wall at the front and even the trash cans inside are bombproof, they said. "

"Before approaching the ticket counter, passengers are thoroughly questioned by 'selectors' who look for travelers who match a suspicious profile."
Israel also uses "Behavior Pattern Recognition" (which has been implemented in at least two US airports, Logan International in Boston and Miami International)
"The process scans the behavior of people in airports to identify potential terrorists. Pattern recognition, in the normal course, identifies vaguely delineated entities, such as diseases, human faces, or video images. This article presents behavior pattern recognition as a logical neural process, which senses the behavior of objects in the environment. The human mind applies the process, supporting it with massive memories and myriad analytical subsystems. Behavior pattern recognition enables the human mind to understand events."
"Israeli security systems evaluate a series of events to reach a conclusion. Their airport screening supervisors have a score sheet with a list of behaviors on it."
Security Solutions asked:
"What can U.S. airports learn from the way Ben Gurion manages aviation security?"

"According to Raphael 'Rafi' Ron, who served as director of security at Ben Gurion for five years, aviation security in the U.S. suffers from two shortcomings that Ben Gurion has dealt with and overcome. First, the U.S. has failed in its efforts to develop comprehensive layered security programs that protect airports in their entirety, from perimeter access roads to passenger checkpoints. Second, airport security directors in the U.S. have failed to come to terms with what Ron calls the human factor — the inescapable fact that terrorist attacks are carried out by people who can be found and stopped by an effective security methodology."
Mr. Ron, now President of New Age Security Solutions, is a consultant for Logan International Airport in Boston. Ron makes note of the differences between Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport and Boston's Logan:
"Ron acknowledges that specific procedures probably will not transfer directly from Ben Gurion to Logan or to other U.S. airports. Ben Gurion, for example, is relatively small. It deals with 6 to 10 million passengers a year, whereas 25 to 30 million passengers move through Logan. Ron also notes that while the terrorist threat in Israel is similar to the threat posed by terrorists to U.S. airports, the level of intensity is lower in the U.S."
Israel's policy in short: it's all about the people, stupid. Profile everyone, assess terrorism risk, respond accordingly.

Final Thoughts

Like Melissa Clouthier, I too was selected to be randomly screened at an airport shortly after 9/11, while traveling (solo) with my kids (ages two and eight, at the time). I blame the gum that was all over the seat of my pants. Yay, kids! The incident happened at MCI in Kansas City. My two-year-old son was screaming because he thought, as the agent wanded me, that I was being harmed. He was not in a stroller and kept coming over to me, the agent said "he cannot touch you". Another mommy who was also on our flight picked him up, he screamed louder, as me and my threatening self were cleared for takeoff.

According to the TSA's website, they're no longer causing separation anxiety:
"We will not ask you to do anything that will separate you from your child or children."
As of today, you and your children are subject to screening. Now that you know this, talk to your younglings about what's going to happen at the airport. There is a possibility that they will be patted down or wanded with a hand held metal detector, demonstrate these actions to them at home so that they know what to expect. And if you're one of those people with small children who's boycotting air travel until the TSA changes their policy, many thanks. Personally, I like my flights children free.

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I have been saying for years that we have to look at what the Israelis are doing.