Saturday, June 07, 2008

Updated Airport Security

Not too long ago, Marty Peretz, on his blog in the New Republic was wondering:

From time to time, I've posted here about how much more efficient, less intrusive, smoother and rather noiseless the Israeli airport security system is, and certainly in comparison to the American one. First of all, you don't have to take off your shoes; and, if I recall correctly, there's no regimen about the permissible three ounces of liquid and the impermissibility of four. There's no one bellowing at you about your computer, your ticket, your jacket, that bottle of water you mistakenly brought along. It's true that sometimes your bags will really be scrutinized. But that will be because you've actually raised a question in the mind of the very polite interviewer who has a query or two to ask before you check-in. This last time, seeing how many Israeli stamps there were in my U.S. passport, my questioner asked me if I spoke Hebrew. I said "k'tsat," which means a little. That lead us into a longer line of queries which apparently I passed.

Well, it would appear at if Israeli lessons will be picked up by American Airpor security:

At a recent news conference in Jerusalem, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Michael Chertoff announced that the U.S. had signed a landmark agreement with Israel to share information about airport security.

Israel is considered to have the most effective airport security measures anywhere in the world. So convinced are they of the benevolence of people they allow to board their planes, first class passengers are given steak knives with their meals.

The historical learning evolution:

Okudaira, Yasuda, and Okamoto ostensibly drew little attention when they arrived at the Lod Airport on an Air France flight from Paris. Dressed in business suits, the college-aged kids carried musical instrument cases as a disguise. Inside the cases were semi-automatic machine guns, which once retrieved from the baggage claim were used in the attack.

...When it was over, a total of 26 people were dead. Eighty were injured. Israel changed the airport’s name to the Ben-Gurion International Airport and began a security system based on behavior profiling.

The system works. Fourteen years later, the case of Anne Marie Murphy — prevented by Israeli security agents from boarding an El Al flight with seven pounds of explosives — makes the point. The pregnant, fair-skinned Murphy, who is Irish, was profiled and deemed suspicious. During secondary screening, agents discovered Semtex concealed in the lining of her bag. Without knowing it, the former chambermaid had been given a bomb by her terrorist boyfriend, a Jordanian named Nizar Hindawi, who was not on the flight. Hindawi was the father of Murphy’s unborn child.

Security experts familiar with Israel’s behavior profiling system have long since criticized U.S. airport security for its approach. The lion’s share of TSA’s $4.9 billion annual budget is spent looking for bombs, not bombers. This is why TSA agents insist on confiscating your five-ounce bottle of shampoo at the security checkpoint and why Israeli agents will give you a steak knife once you’re in flight.

Chertoff made the right move.

Another example from the comments (by Hershel Ginsburg, Jerusalem / Efrata) on Peretz' post:

One interesting and very illustrative story about Israeli airport security:

Before Richard Ried, the infamous shoe-bomber, did his deed over the Atlantic, he was sent to Israel by al Qaeda to feel out Israel's airport security. They wanted to see if despite Ried's traveling on a British passport and would not be carrying any suspicious or forbidden objects, whether or not Reid would be tagged as suspicious. So Reid flew to Israel, spent few days or a week here and then returned to the airport to fly back to Merrye Olde Englande.

Sure enough, between a check of his passport and his answers to the screener's questions Reid was tagged as highly suspicious. He and his possessions were thoroughly searched, down to his underwear. He came out clean but security was still concerned. So they quickly arranged for whoever was supposed to sit next to Reid to get a sudden upgrade to business class and had a plain clothes, but armed, security person be assigned to the seat next to Reid. Just in case.


At 2:19 PM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

" if I recall correctly, there's no regimen about the permissible three ounces of liquid and the impermissibility of four."

Actually, it depends on a specific airline you use.

An generally, one would do well not causing a shadow of suspicion. Otherwise the idyllic picture may turn into something entirely different.


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