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January 5, 2010
Western countries flirt with stricter flight security measures

After the failed Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253, Europe weighs new measures to guarantee passenger safety. The U.S. has announced more stringent checks on passengers from 14 countries.

Some experts argue that transit airports should implement stricter security screening for passengers from developing countries with poor security.

To take a closer look at how countries around the world are approaching airline security, Daljit Dhaliwal interviews Patrick Smith, a pilot who writes a weekly air travel column at Salon.

Should travelers be subjected to more intrusive security measures — including full body scans — that threaten their personal privacy?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Comments

52 comments

#52

Think not of a person that blows him/herself up on a plane, but before they do it. In the airport itself. Do that in a couple locations around the world at the same time and all traffic to America will be stopped. A bag being loaded into the belly of a plane bound for America explodes and no plane bound for America will leave that airport. When it comes to cargo planes that could in thoery stop all sorts of traffic to America. People would give up flying to anywhere.
If this was taken to another point, lets say those bound for Mecca the backlash against the jihadest would be heavy and deadly. The funding for the Islamic terroists would over night dry up.

#51

The screening needs to take place by interviewing the ticket purchaser and not selling a ticket to a terrorist or bomber. Using the computer to interview the ticket purchaser before they can get their ticket which includes they must agree to the terms and conditions required before the ticket agent, travel website or airline on internet and over the counter will allow them to by a ticket to fly. Ask the question do they intend to set off a bomb to destroy the airplane? Yes, cannot buy a ticket, No, can by a ticket. Are they in any way affiliated with Al Qaeda? Yes, they cannot buy a ticket, No, yes they can by a ticket. Whatever questions Homeland Security wants to add. People can lie to buy the ticket but the computer now can cross check them against the no fly list and the other list Homeland Security wants to be checked. There needs to be a place on the purchase of the airline ticket to scan their finger print like they do in the banks when endorsing checks to add to the system and catch any bad guys that are trying to escape the law or hurt the flying public in any way. Now when the ticket holder gets to the TSA at the airport their name must be checked off on the computer against the daily passenger list which is available from all airlines and if any red flags have popped up they will be sent to airport security for addition screening and possible arrest. That will catch all the liers and bad guys before any luggage checks and body searches.

#50

I completely agree with Julia. Also, some kind of profiling would be a good thing. If you’re 95 with a cane or 6 years old you are treated as a possible terroist. Use common sense.

#49

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#48

Amen, #1. However one might also consider that the Constitution provides protection from “…unreasonable search {and siezure}…”.

But in order to vent, I’ll add the following.

Let the flying public decide with their pocketbooks

First, require airlines to pay for the equipment and operations pf {to me, obnoxious} full-body scanning.

Second: Offer a financial incentive to passengers who are asked to submit to full-body scanning, 50% off being the starting point Airlines shall be required to refund “non-refundable” ticket purchases if a passenger refuses full-body scanning and is thus denied boarding.

Third, let the final pocketbook “vote” be that of the airline industry, which must be prohibited from receiving bailouts.

Fourth, be politically incorrect: *DO* profiling. It’s really being done implicitly any.

One can surmise the permutations, combinations, and repercussions of all of the above.

One can then cite this admirable trait of our economic model: It would be a truly “free market” in airline travel, according to strict economic theory. Let’s see how long the airline industry would last. I feel that the coercion to submit or lose one’s money is tantamount to airline blackmail.

To paraphrase a great humorist, George Carlin, (MHRIP), “… there’s more of them than there are of us and they want what we’ve got. So: They win.”

#

#47

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#46

I do not fear flying, but flying has become such a chore. You are treared like a terrorist before you get near an airplane. You are packed in like cattle with surley passengers, screaching babies, and an overworked, underthanked crew. They charge an arm and a leg to feed you a pittance, if they feed you at all. A trip on the train is far more pleasurable, and one eats well. It beats flying hands down.

#45

Well said Julia (#42). Your thoughtful and articulate comment should be on the front page of every American newspaper.

#44

Folks, airplanes are far from the only place where bombs can be exploded. Are we going to body-scan people entering every subway station, every train, every bus, every car, every boat, every building in the country? Think about what that would cost, not only in dollars, but in time, privacy, freedom of movement, quality of life. Do we really want to build ourselves a police state?

If we continue down this path of ever-increasing ID-checks and window-dressing security procedures, the terrorists will have won. In fact, I’d say they already have. We are exactly where they want us to be: mindless, fearful sheep obeying every demand, no matter how ridiculous, issued by someone wearing the right uniform. Ready to give up every freedom that this country is based on just to feel a little safer–not actually BE any safer, but feel safer, because if our bodies are fully exposed and we can’t even have drinking water, that must mean Big Brother is taking good care of us.

#43

The greatest hazard from full body scans is from the x-radiation that is used in some machines. Every radiation exposure increases ones’ risk to develop cancer and other adverse effects. To scan children is unconscionable.

#42

This technology could be used at all airports now. This technology could have been used at all airports for decades. I know about this technology because i’ve had it used on me everyday for the past several years and off & on for 20 years. I and other people this is being done to are “Targeted Individuals”. Acoustic & Directed Energy Weapons are used for stalking & torture. Our troops fighting and dieing in the mideast can’t have these weapons but corrupt law enforcement can. And they can use them on whoever they’re paid off to. These weapons that could see and disable all I.E.Ds. These weapons that could see and hear into any buildings and kill or disable anyone in those buildings. These weapons that were developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Head of r & d at Los Alamos is J. Douglas Beason. The original creator of this technology is Nikola Tesla. These weapons are and have been fully developed for decades. All the good this technology could do and this is how it’s used. How can this happen in this country? Why? How many people in our government know about this and just allow it to continue? This isn’t Gitmo or some other foreign country. None of this would be possible without the knowledge of high level government officials. This area is 100% corrupted. If anything happens to me here it will have been murder. All law enforcement & elected officials know about this. Law enforcement & that fire dept. on Singer Island are directly involved in all of this. State Attorney Mike McAuliffe and the Miami FBI have started an investigation into the Riviera Beach Police Dept. I don’t know if it has anything to do with all the information i’ve sent to them. All i know is that it’s getting much worse here. I fear for my life here. The pain and sleep deprivation are much worse. The control of the pain, of everything these weapons can do is like turning the volume up & down on a t.v. They’re using these weapons more on my stomach & chest. It’s harder to breathe & swallow. THE PAIN, it feels like your insides are being torn apart, your chest feels like it’s going to explode. What crimes do our government & law enforcement have to commit before someone does something about this, before someone cares?These weapons were also used on me at the N. Palm Beach jail, the Palm Beach County jail, and at Oakwood Center. Oakwood Center is a mental health facility where i was Baker Acted for calling 911 to report these weapons being used on me. I was held at Oakwood Center for four and a half days and forceably injected with drugs. I want to add this about Oakwood Center. Everyone at Oakwood Center knew these weapons were being used on me there. I video taped the 911 calls and the Riviera Beach Police at my home taking me in handcuffs and in my underwear to Oakwood Center. I was basically kidnapped from my home by the Riviera Beach Police. I have evidence. I can prove much if not all of this. I have three and a half hours of audio. I have over 120 hours of video documenting my life and this area dating back to 2005. I also have all my medical records. I know i don’t have an education and i’m naive. But this shouldn’t happen in this country. This can’t happen in this country. What if there was technology that may have prevented 911? What if there is technology that could easily be used at all airports today? Why isn’t it?

#41

The key to effective security is knowing who is flying and focusing limited security resource on the highest risk. 1) there should be a national identity card system in the US and any other country which can afford it ( we can) which with retinal scan and fingerprinting, 2) after proper verification of ID passengers should be streamed between low risk (frequent flyers, air crew, the elderly, etc ) through a higher speed less intense process, probably no more than metal detector and bag xray. We tend to forget that bag xray was a process before 9/11.
Infrequent flyers and others should be subjecterd to more intensive scrutiny, most appropriately along the Israeli behavioural observation and interview lines. For people of a particular higher risk profile the most intense scrutiny is warranted. Age , nationality, race, gender, dress and language and accent are all significant.
It is delusional to ignore the fact that the biggest terrorist threat in the wod today comes from young middle eastern men of the Islamic faith. We need to defend our right to survive and be free from terrorist violence which I believe is a superior right to a bogus claim of discrimination by the likely recipients of greater scrutiny.

#40

Your privacy! 9 11 changed all that. This is a no brainer, you can be searched good down here or blown out of the air up there.

#39

I’m all for body scans, but what about silicone implants.

#38

I agree with most of the people that posted on this question: Yes for full body screening. And also use that tool that blows air into the clothes. And more sniffing dogs…and hire more TSA and give them a cup of coffee so they are awake while they scan!!! If you feel your personal rights are threatened, take the train.

#37

What about plastic explosives hidden in body crevices? Shouldn’t those be searched?

#36

I’ve never been on a plane, but i’ve been on trains and buses. I’ve been around male and female human beings all my life (44 years). I’ve been to the Doctors office many times and seen the anatomical pictures there.Full body scanning is intelligent.

#35

I work at a major airport. I do not believe in full body screening. It is a waste of time and money. It is a futile exercise. You are looking for a needle in a haystack with millions of straws to go through.. How about placing some Militia in the lobbies or patrolling the ticketing areas as a preventative measure. In many European Airports that alone is a good option in my opinion. It should be an deterrent to any wood-bee. When I see paramilitaries strolling around I get a heads up. TSA is also running out of agents it seems at the check in gates. Why? It appears there are never enough gates open for the amount actually available. Are they concerned about overtime? Where are they when you need them? You will find them taking their required “breaks”. Now you know why it takes so long to get through. Apparently there is no coordination with the airline staff as to when there is heavy traffic and when not. With so few agents the schedule must be observed. There should not be another hour added on to the check in time already required. Weather or not one misses his flight seems irrelevant. If time is money, whose time and whose money anyway. This is a government entity and they have our money.
I do like the idea of more dogs present in the last few days. That is good. Yes and I also think the “no fly list” should be replaced with more current information. I see it every day, There is a lot to be done. I have watched and hoped it would get better, but it seems to get worse.
Good luck Mr. President.

#34

#19 makes some very good points. For the last sixty years, US foreign policy has consistently undermined the moderate leaders of the Middle East. Now we wonder where all the extremists came from.

#33

Because I wear a heart pacemaker I already undergo a full-body pat screening on arrival for every new flight. It takes a little more time for me to get through the screening than most other passengers, but its really no problem and I much appreciate the added safety. I would have no objection to a full body scan (though I would have to notify the screener
of my incontinence napkin) and I certainly hope that good thorough scans are standard practice before our next upcoming family
intercontinental flight.

#32

we all know what the human body looks like, so what is the big deal about privacy and full body scanning?
I’d rather forsake someone looking at my body over being blown to smithereens in an airplane.
If you don’t feel the same way, don’t fly.

#31

I believe that the media coverage prompted by the attempted Christmas event is completely over blown. Statistically it is insignificant, since 9/11 there have been 99 million commercial aircraft landings in the USA of which 6 have had terrorist on board, and only three succeeded. We need only to arm and train our flight crews and add a few more air marshals to counter these threats rather than spend millions on new machines and operators at the expense of our pocketbooks and privacy.

#30

My greatest concern with these full body scanners is for health concerns. I desire assurance that these devices are not harmful as they do use X-Ray technology. As a frequent flier in business, what assurances do I have that I will not be exposed to a dangerous levels of radiation dosage in the long term after 2 or 3 dozen flights over the course of a Year?

#29

I tend to agree with Patrick Smith, that current security methods are not very effective. This and the mind set remark are true, since I was on a hijacked plane to Cuba back in the early 70’s and the flight crew joked about the change of our destination from NY to Havana. I have curtailed my flights on commercial airlines and normally only fly on either my corporate planes or charter aircraft to avoid the extra 2-3 hours being screened before boarding.
Eliminating non esential carry on luggage would speed security lines. Also allow frequent fliers to be pre screened and use express lanes.
We as Americans always seem to swing from one extreme to another. Just look at the lack of privacy we have endured since Sept 11, 2001.

#28

I don’t believe we should give up our freedom over fear. This is invasion of privacy. I am strongly against it.
If we block the terrorist from attacking us while traveling, we will find that they are attacking us in other ways. This will not work and only serves for millions of dollars in lawsuits because some employee could not keep images to themselves and decides to share them with the public over the internet.
Body scanning is a rash decision made out of fear.

#27

There should be an airport speed through line for those of us wishing to streak through nude.

#26

I agree with #9 and add that terrorists are supported by our news media’s appetite for fear inducing reporting. It’s become a national pastime to focus on “what’s wrong” and who’s “out to get us” rather than “whats good” and who’s contributing to well being. A more balanced approach to journalism would diminish the very tool our enemies use – – our self destructive, dysfunctional need for fear based thinking. It drives the stock market,our national budget and divides us making even their failed attempts successful.

#25

Of course, there should be body scans. Use whatever is needed to screen the people. Privacy holds no importance over life.

#24

Apart from being a gross invasion of privacy a full body scan is a serious health hazzard. Xrays and microwaves are deadly on body cells,there is no safe dose, why this issue is not being addressed by the government is beyond me. The terrorist has outsmarted us by having us kill ourselves, we have overreacted in a bad way. The flying public should be given a choice, a full body scan or a pat down in other words a chance to live or a slow death. We already have all the tools we need, we just did not use it;god forbid a tettorist is caught with explosive taped under his arm we would all be required to board the plane sleeveless.

#23

I have no problem with body scans. Whatever it takes to help us be a little safer is worth it.

#22

I would give up my privacy for a safer flight. I do believe that traveling
is not what it used to be and we must change our ideas for safety

#21

if some people willingly want to give up their privacy,freedom, then they deserve a big brother govenment they get,and terrorists win. but how about the rest of us in home of the free .i agree with #15

#20

As the government and the press rachet up the level of hysteria yet again what is entirely missing is this: Would it ever occur to Americans to ask why people in the Islamic world are so angry at the United States, angry enough that even a medical doctor would commit suicide to blow up CIA agents in Afghanistan? History did not begin on 9-11. The narrative rehearsed daily by the U.S. government and parroted by the press including, unfortunately, World Focus, is that these “fanatical Muslims” are “out to get us.” And here we are, so innocent, just sitting here on our side of the Atlantic, defending democracy. Why would they want to hurt us? Why indeed? The terrorists’ methods are regrettable. But are there methods any less reprehensible and criminal than when an American kid with his video game controller in some building in Virginia sends a hellfire missile out of the sky to smash into a wedding party or a village in Pakistan or Afghanistan — countries that are not at war with the United States, whose citizens did not attack us on 9/11, and have never attacked us? Is locking up captives in black sites, torturing them mercilessly, any less a crime? Is installing vicious repressive governments that deny democracy and routinely torture and shoot opponents any less a crime that bringing down an airliner? When a U.S. warship deliberately shot down an Iranian airliner over the Strait of Hormz in 1988 killing 290 civilians, and George Bush pere refused even to apologize declaring “The United States does not apologize for anything,” where was the hue and cry in the western press about this terrorist act by America? The peoples of the Middle East see through our hypocrisy every day, and have every reason to be angry at us. There is a long history in which the U.S. overthrew democracies and installed brutal but “friendly” dictators throughout the Arab world to protect access to “our” oil which was under their sand. From Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Jordan to Iraq under Saddam Hussein, America has supported the most vicious murderous governments and backs them up with money and our troops near by. It is our support to those regimes that angers the Islamic world. Should we be surprised? The U.S. stationed troops in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Middle East decades before 9-11. How many Arab nations have troops stationed in the United States? Should we be surprised if those people are angry at us, and react in desperate ways? Palestinians are routinely condemned by the U.S. government and media because they launch crude homemade rockets at the Israeli occupiers (and have killed perhaps 10 Israelis). But the Palestinians only do so because, unlike the illegal Israeli occupiers, they have no air force, no bombers, no tanks, no battleships, no helicopters, no battalions, so they fight with what they have. Should we be surprised? The U.S. constantly attacks Iran for its efforts to construct a nuclear weapon which the U.S. says would be illegal. But no U.S. official, no newspaper, no World Focus commentator will even mention, let alone criticize the fact that Israel has hundreds if not thousands of nuclear weapons. Those weapons are all totally illegal under the same laws we would apply to Iran. But this is of course never mentioned, never discussed in the media. Yet the average Arab on the street knows this completely obvious fact. Is it any surprise, therefore, that throughout the Middle East, Americans are reviled as the hypocrites we in fact are. We’re currently bombing 5 countries and editors are clamoring to add Iran to the list, and there is now talk of sending troops to Yemen. Do we intend to attack the entire Islamic world? That, I suggest, is a war we will lose — and a war we deserve to lose.
To come back to your question about airport security: No amount of airport security will make Americans safe. There will be no security for Americans until America pulls all of its troops out of the Middle East and promotes the democracy it claims to stand for but regularly violates in practice both at home and abroad.

#19

What is PARAMOUNT here, is SAFETY for all those traveling by air. These murderers will stop at nothing, when it comes to killing people at large. Their god must be very content with what they portray as religion, and godlyness.

#18

#12 had it right. The subject had the explosive in his underwear in his crotch. I don’t think a full-body scan could tell the difference between that and thick underwear (embedded with deodorant crystals) word by people with incontinence. And if the scan called for a pat-down, who would pat-dow someone in his or her crotch?

#17

I think people that are highly suspicious as a terrorist should be scanned yes. As I understand it, the Christmas bombers father notified the state department to let them know about his son. He should have immediately been flagged on his Visa. Errors like this should be fixed. So yes, those that are highly suspicious of terrorism should be scanned or patted down before flight.

#16

We as private citizens should not have to put up with even stricter security measures at the airport such as a full body scan. If the security measures that are already in place are performed correctly then proper safety steps are in place. This recent Christmas day plot was not a failure at the airport but rather at our government security agencies. The information for the terrorist on the Delta flight 12/25/09 was more then enough to warrant a swift investigation on the man but they did not act on it. If they did, he never would have been on a plane. It’s that simple. We have to insist that our security agencies do all that they can to protect us like we have been told they are, and not rely on a machine to be the answer to all our airport safety concerns. The full body scan will let the terrorists continue to hurt us by making people less likely to travel which in turn hurts our economy starting with the airlines which are already in bad shape. Many industries suffer as a result when the airlines do poorly.
Also, the full body scan will eventually show that it will cause negative health issues for those frequent fliers who will have to be subjected to it on a more frequent basis. The manufacturing company is pushing hard to make them mainstream because of the profits the machines represent.
Let us not rush into killing more of our countries heritage as Land of The Free.

#15

The Constitution protects AMERICAN CITIZENS against unreasonable searches and that is exactly what this is, folks. I say that because it was a Muslim from overseas who is guilty, not an American. Therefore, to subject AMERICANS to BODY SCANS, AND PAT DOWNS should certainly be considered an unreasonable search by anyone. Where are our Congressmen – the supposed guardians of our liberties and the Constitution?? They should be demanding a stop to this harrassment of American citizens and a return to common sense!! It’s not Americans who hate America and want to destroy us!

#14

I flew in to the U.S. from Prague on Delta yesterday (Jan 4th). The increases security measures included hand searching every carry-on, a physical pat down of every passenger, a pair of bomb sniffing dogs at the ticket counter, and another pair after the security screening within the gate area. Although the security personnel were professional about the pat-down, I can say unequivocally that I would rather be scanned than ‘felt’.

#13

I am 73 years old and ever since my titanium hip implants in 1998, I have had to be pulled out and “assume the position” to be both wanded and patted down. I do not like it, but it seems to be necessary. However, sometimes I have to wait quite a long time for a female agent to do the job. There should be enough people to do the job, and it will be quite expensive, and require much more training.

#12

People who wear Depends (adult diaper)will be targeted as underwear bombers. The terrorists must be laughing!

#11

Many people complain of privacy issues during a search for security reasons, why is there no complaint about privacy issues when one has to be subjected to MRI, XRay etc. that are supervised by strangers?

#10

Sorry, Present Security Measures do not work. Let the airlines provide their own metal walk thru security and continue to do random profile screening. Lay off the fifty thousand Tso’s and put them on unemployment. The cost savings is significant. Rea

#9

Make people paranoid enough, and you can get them to accept anything. Keeping the threat to the traveling public in perspective is essential to making reasonable decisions about security. Last year, drunk drivers killed more Americans than all the terrorists in history. Those who edit news shows know that the public will tune in for terrorists but not for drunk drivers, so stories about terrorism dominate the media. If you want to be truly safe when you travel, get the drunks off the highways.

#8

are we actually willing to give so much liberty,time and freedom for so little security,our forefathers did not think so,present security measures worked but someone droped the ball.we should not have pay everytime government messes up.

#7

I think that flying is a priviledge and if people don’t feel comfortable with any screening activities used then they should find another mode of tranportation. I think our country should take every step possible to prevent other terrorist attacks, and have not problem with body scans.

#6

Unfortunately, it has always been that one bad apple spoils it for the whole bunch. That is how I see it…when there are people that will take any means to further their terriorist acts we have no choice but to beef up our security and that may entail full body searches. Hopefully, we can some modesty in the system.

#5

I absolutely support the body scans. I can imagine people that have issues with their body feeling uncomfortable, but overall it is for our protection. Either way, Our Country will never fully agree on anything, so as Christopher says, if they refuse to get additional searching, they simply can seek alternate ways of travel.

#4

A Modest Proposal:

Identify terrorists and vaporize them on
High Def TV’s at airports. This will deter
attacks on aircraft and airports. Another
way is to pack them into luggage and explode
them out on the Tarmac. These approaches will
reduce terrorists and cut down on thousands of unneccesary searches and delays for innocent and weary travelers.

#3

Since the world has become more aware of people who do not value life and all that it offers and therfore wish to end the experiences of those who do, we must continue to join forces and do what we can to show those people that we will thwart their demeaning, demoralizing behaviors where ever possible. The more that we can coperate with security processes that plan to ensure our personal and collective safety, the less success the “life haters” have in the completion of their quests, the more dissolute their power. Whenever I fly I always expect to get to my distination and home again. I am only too happy to support whatever security measures have to be taken to make sure that that continues to happen!!!

#2

These extra airport security checks are just to show the public that the security agencies are doing “something” to fix the problem. But the real problem is the total lack of communication between the various security agencies, which was supposed to eradicated in 2001 with the formation of the “Homeland Security Agency”. Bad habits die hard and, after all these years, it’s business as usual for the security agencies which keep their data to themselves. The various agencies within the continental USA do not share their data with each other, much less with foreign agencies. So if a person is on a “watch list” with MI-6, the CIA and the FBI may never know it, perhaps not even MI-5. Unless we can break these decades old bad habits, we will never be secure, and the airline passenger will suffer because3 of their stubbornness.

#1

i believe when you choose to use a company’s vehicle for transport you give up some personal privacy.
if that company needs more intrusive security measures to try and keep you safe on those vehicles then they should be able to use those measures.
if you do not want to subject yourself to those measures. that, also, is your choice.

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