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Government Privacy Security Transportation

US Changes How Air Travelers Are Screened 260

Posted by kdawson
from the curtain-falling-on-security-theater dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration is abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which US-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening and will instead select passengers based on possible matches to intelligence information, including physical descriptions or a particular travel pattern. Under the new system, screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence. The system will be 'much more intel-based,' a senior administration official says, as opposed to brute force. For example if US intelligence authorities learned about a terrorism suspect from Asia who had recently traveled to the Middle East, and they knew the suspect's approximate age but not name or passport number, those fragments would be entered into a database, shared with commercial airline screeners abroad, and screeners would be instructed to look for people with those traits and to pull them aside for extra searches. Administration officials have said that, in hindsight, the central failure in the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day involved inadequate sharing of information." In other TSA-related news, CNN takes a look at the full-body scanners that are beginning to be deployed in the US and elsewhere, concluding that they are good at finding concealed drugs but haven't found much that could bring down an airplane. John Perry Barlow is quoted: "Every time technology makes another leap forward, we have to reclaim the Fourth Amendment, and often we have to reclaim the entire Bill of Rights, because technology gives [the authorities] powers that were not envisioned by the Founding Fathers."
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US Changes How Air Travelers Are Screened

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  • Random? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thepike (1781582) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:15AM (#31706598)
    And here I was always told that I was "randomly chosen" for increased security screening.
  • by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:16AM (#31706602) Homepage

    See, it's not racial profiling if it's based on the shocking Intelligence Information that The Terrorists are often Brown People.

    You may think I'm being sardonic, but you'd be wrong. If I were being sardonic, I'd have leaned to one side, sardonically.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The Terrorists are often Brown People.

      Except when they're black like the Christmas bomber, or white like Jihad Jane.

      But don't let facts get in the way of your dreams.

    • by copponex (13876) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:44AM (#31706898) Homepage

      The Terrorists are often Brown People.

      And when the terrorists find a disaffected white nutcase who wants to go down in history as the world's biggest terrorist, he'll walk right by the line of PhD students who are being strip searched for having the wrong skin color.

      • by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:07AM (#31707140)
        And it'll happen despite a warning from the guy's father or other intelligence sources all because two intelligence agencies can't figure out the meaning of the word "sharing," Because of their blunder, we will have to submit to even more onerous restrictions that will probably have nothing to do with how the guy tried to kill people, and the people who failed in the intel community will get promotions and more responsibility.
        • by moeinvt (851793)

          Exactly.

          Just like a certain law enforcement agency where middle management can't spare the time to look into a report from one of their field agents about guys with Arabic-sounding names that want to learn how to fly airplanes but aren't interested in "How to Land 101". BUT, we need the patriot act to keep us safe.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

          And it'll happen despite a warning from the guy's father or other intelligence sources all because two intelligence agencies can't figure out the meaning of the word "sharing,"

          You are far too optimistic. We've all heard how the underwear bomber's father reported him and no one paid attention. Well, that's not true. They DID pay attention and they actively chose to let him keep his american visa. It wasn't a mistake, they did it on purpose. This information was released by Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management at the State Department. [detnews.com]

          Therefore all these "security changes" are 100% bullshit. No amount of hassling passengers will make any difference as long as the

      • The problem for the terrorists is that 99 out of 100 disaffected white nutcases work for the CIA or FBI.
      • by jimicus (737525) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:18PM (#31709130)

        And when the terrorists find a disaffected white nutcase who wants to go down in history as the world's biggest terrorist, he'll walk right by the line of PhD students who are being strip searched for having the wrong skin color.

        The way you say this, anyone would think that the terrorist threats faced today are being organised by a very clever, very resourceful organisation that can do more or less whatever it wants.

        There is no fucking chance whatsoever this applies to Al Qaida. Frankly, if it was, we'd have seen far more attacks and they'd have been far more successful. As it stands, the US and the UK have had precisely one major co-ordinated, successful attack each. Here in the UK we've also had a handful of utterly pointless attacks (come on - what idiot decided that driving a car full of gas cylinders into an airport in Glasgow, of all places, would result in anything more than a heavy kick in the head and/or testicles?).

        If you want an example of what happens when you have a clever, resourceful terrorist organisation attacking you, look at the IRA in the 1970's/80's.

    • What? The TSA hires mainly brown people? That’s news to me...

    • Uh, no. If you read even the summary, that's the procedure they're moving away from.

      [T]he Obama administration is abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which US-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening...

      They're actually now trying to correlate security screening with specific, known information about actual suspects, rather than saying, "So you're from Pakistan? Would you mind coming with me, sir?" The new policies will be far from perfect, I'm sure, but they seem more sensible than a "random" screening based solely on nationality.

      As to the body scanners, I have a hard time being bothered by this.

      Every time technology makes another leap forward, we have to reclaim the Fourth Amendment, and often we have to reclaim the entire Bill of Rights, because technology gives [the authorities] powers that were not envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

      Fair enough, but I think the founding fathers would also have had a difficult time envisioning several dozen unrelated people climbing into a flying metal tube to cross the ocean in a matter of hours. They also probably didn't foresee the rise of ideologies that make those flying tubes attractive targets for persons armed with concealable explosive devices. Saying that the Founding Fathers were poorly-versed in 21st century technology and geopolitics doesn't mean much by itself. I'm willing to bet the passengers on any of the airplanes that have been subject to terrorist attacks in the past few years would have been willing to undergo a full body scan if it meant the bad guy couldn't get on the plane with them. Full body scanners also don't care what country you're from, if that means anything.

      • Actually

        [T]he Obama administration is abandoning its policy of using nationality alone to determine which US-bound international air travelers should be subject to additional screening...

        (emphasis mine)

        Looks like they're still screening by just nationality, but adding additional factors. I'm thinking "look for guys with big beards, funny accents, or towels on their head" :/

      • by DelShalDar (120367) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:18PM (#31707916) Homepage

        And the Founding Fathers wouldn't have gone the "Let's trade our hard-won freedom for the empty promise of security!" route, either. They'd see those flying tin cans and say "How could a few men with small knives (or other blade-like instruments) take over an entire plane full of citizens when the citizens aboard should be more than capable of preventing such an attempt?" Then they would look at the way the general populace is being disarmed and say "This is exactly the opposite of what we intended!" when told that they could not carry their primary means of self-defense everywhere they went. They would look at how the people they did all of this for are giving everything they argued and fought so hard for away in order to feel safe, instead of actually being prepared and equipped to ensure that safety.

        The "they couldn't have known" and "they didn't foresee" defenses are just a way of ignoring the original intent and then claiming that "now" is so much more different from "then" and that dealing with what affects us "now" was never the intent to begin with. They had boats, those not-so-mythical things called pirates, terrorists, and invading armies back then, and they dealt with them as they encountered them. The only real differences between "now" and "then" is that we can travel between locations faster, we can communicate faster with people farther away, and we have the ability to know what of (in)significance is currently happening in places we never heard of before to people we'll likely never meet in person. Admittedly, the "killing people" thing may have become easier with newer technologies, but so has the "saving people" thing, and sometimes we use the exact same tool(s) to do both. Exactly none of this didn't exist back then in one form or another, but we (as a people) seem so intent on treating "now" in such a different manner as "then" because we can, and not because we must.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Etrias (1121031)
          Setting aside your interpretation of the 2nd amendment, there are few worse things that I can think of than allowing untrained armed citizens aboard a commercial airliner. You have heard of decompression, right?

          Similarly, your thought that the "original intent" should be carried to the end of time argument wears thin. Pirates were often mercenaries of the state and terrorists were pirates. Any thought of an invading army of America makes me chuckle and think that someone's been watching Red Dawn once
    • by plopez (54068) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:37PM (#31708146) Journal

      Hmmm... let's see. The SLA in the 1970's. White as well as African-American. The 1st or 2nd largest gun battle between law enforcement and a terrorist organization. 2nd if you count David Koresh et. al. as terrorists.

      The KKK. They terrorized African-Americans, Catholics, and Jews since about 1870. Arayan nation and other affiliated groups also have terrorized those who do not agree with them or of different races. Oh yeah, you have to be of true white racial purity to join those groups.

      The Weather Underground. White, middle class, college educated, and terrorists.

      The Oklahoma City bombers.

      The Unibomber.

      The women's clinic bombers and doctor killers.

      At this point I am more frightened of the uber-radical wingnut neighbor with a gun collection and pent up frustration and rage, than I am of any "camel jockies" or "towel heads" (to use two of the more polite phrases Ive heard over the years).

      Charles Manson and friends. They wanted to start a race war, so it could be counted as terrorism. Oh yeah, all white.

      Get your facts straight.

  • Oh man (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Seriousity (1441391) <Seriousity@NOSPaM.live.com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:16AM (#31706608)
    I'm pretty far away in New Zealand, but I look at your constitution and then I look at what your government is dong and I have true respect for those among you whose eyes are open and are fighting to reclaim the freedom you should be entitled to as an American. We don't have anything nearly as powerful to protect our freedoms in the rest of the world; fight to keep yours.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      your government is dong

      At first I thought this was a typo, but on further reflection...

    • Re:Oh man (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mapkinase (958129) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:39AM (#31706852) Homepage Journal

      The freedoms cost as much as you are going to sacrifice for it. Sacrifice means that you sacrifice something personal for communal good. That act of selflessness is largely incompatible with individualistic basis of American culture.

      There are less and less freedoms because there are less and less people who are ready to get serious about getting less and less freedoms. Western culture "ends with a wimper" indeed.

      • by King_TJ (85913)

        I agree with you, other than your assertion that an act of selflessness is "largely incompatible with" our individualistic culture.

        I say that because making sacrifices for concepts like freedom and liberty should be motivated by an individual's concern for his/her own children, friends and relatives, as much as anything.

        The *real* problem is the apathy you see from people who feel like the problems "don't affect anyone in their circle of friends/family". That tends to continue right up to the point where s

      • From here [wikipedia.org]:

        "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
        and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

        THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
        and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

        THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
        and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

        THEN THEY CAME for the Catholics,
        and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.

        THEN THEY CAME for me
        and by that time no one was left to speak up."
    • Re:Oh man (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:42AM (#31706868)

      We don't have anything nearly as powerful to protect our freedoms in the rest of the world; fight to keep yours.

      Yet ironically we don't seem to be as badly as the United States at the moment. I don't recall being treated like a criminal upon entering New Zealand, nor does any country in Europe. In fact the entry requirements for the United States are now so onerous I won't be going back until they relax: I don't just mean "relax the requirements", I mean the entire United States needs to collectively chill the fuck out.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by operagost (62405)
        It probably has something to do with the fact that the islamic world doesn't consider you "the Great Satan."
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Then this change should make you happy. Instead of just guessing and doing random crap, that are basing searches on intel.

      This is a good thing.

    • Re:Oh man (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@@@slashdot...org> on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:59AM (#31707056)

      I don’t get it... how is a piece of paper powerful to keep freedom, that is already imaginary anyway?

      Remember that there always were constitution-like basic laws in countries. Even in germany before the Nazis.

      If there are no people with power to back it up, it’s worth nothing. But if there are those people, they can just as much back their wishes up without a piece of paper.

      • by MoonBuggy (611105)

        Your view is too black and white. In reality people need points to rally around, they need sound bites, slogans to print on T-shirts, a campaign to get them motivated to take action. In an ideal world maybe that wouldn't be the case, and I do feel a little foolish in saying that the concept of a constitution is equivalent to a T-shirt slogan, but that's what it comes down to.

        One law protecting (say) the freedom of the press in the middle of some dusty legal tome is not especially likely to garner any public

    • Re:Oh man (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zach_the_lizard (1317619) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:14AM (#31707232)
      The weakness of any constitution, be it American, French, Greek, or Japanese, is that it is merely a piece of paper. It does not contain within it the means of enforcing itself, and its interpretation is often left to the entity it is supposed to limit. The enforcement, then, is left to the people, but who is willing to engage in a violent strike on a government over minor injustices? Very few. As time goes on, these injustices become accepted as the way the world is, and more are added, with the result of a transformation over time that causes the end product to look very little like what it started as. Washington needed Congress to raise the militia and go to war; he had no standing army. The presidents of the nuclear age need no approval to launch a civilization ending nuclear attack, to engage in war in far away places that most Americans cannot find on a map.
  • Wait, what? (Score:2, Redundant)

    by Manip (656104)

    So let's say they have 3000 people on the terrorist watchlist... They expect security staff to know how each of these people look, their age, and travel histories? Is this just a smokescreen to say - "instead of using countries, we're going to profile terrorists." So if you're a 17-28 year old from the middle east who travelled to Pakistan ever, watch out, TSA has your number...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ircmaxell (1117387)
      Well, theoretically they could have a computer do the identification for them. When you give them your passport, it can scan the photo and correlate that to the database. Computers are half way decent at that sort of thing (so long as the photos are clean and from a fixed angle, such as a passport photo)... Not to mention that they already know your international travel history anyway (it's reported to them by the airline). So it's relatively easy for a computer to flag a passport in a matter of seconds
      • As long as they aren't permanently logging vast amounts of unique information under the new system, I don't see a problem with it. It's not really any different from stationing a few police or FBI officers at an airport to watch for known criminals. And it's a hell of an improvement over government-mandated racial discrimination.

        If they want to do random checks, and the airline/airport approves, well, they can do random checks. I don't see why people expect fourth-amendment protection when they're on som

    • Honestly, as well they should. Guess who belongs to terrorist organizations? Young middle eastern men with travel records back and forth from Pakistan.
  • Racial profiling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by edwebdev (1304531) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:22AM (#31706662)
    "screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence" = carte blanche for profiling by race, religion, ethnicity, etc., especially when the pieces of intelligence are known only to the screeners.
    • Yesiree, gimme them good ol' days when the TSA just screened all the brown folks, and the police just arrested all the blacks. We don't need no gub'mint peerin' into our lives, us upstandin' citizens!

    • by khallow (566160)

      "screeners will stop passengers for additional security if they match certain pieces of known intelligence" = carte blanche for profiling by race, religion, ethnicity, etc., especially when the pieces of intelligence are known only to the screeners.

      Odds are really good that screeners won't know why. They can't accidentally tell you what they don't know.

  • So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:23AM (#31706674)

    Basically, they're going to do what they've been depicted as doing in every movie and TV show for the last fifty years: ACTUAL DETECTIVE WORK. Crazy!

  • by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <elmuerte AT drunksnipers DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:27AM (#31706722) Homepage

    Simply don't show any form of intelligence and they'll let you pass.

  • Drug cases (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Icepick_ (25751) <icepick AT netfamine DOT DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:32AM (#31706766) Homepage

    I wonder how the cases where drugs were found and reported to law enforcement will pan out.

    Does consenting to a TSA screening also mean you're consenting to a search? I'm certain someone will attempt to try the unreasonable search and seizure/warrentless search defense.

    This troubles me.

    • by burris (122191)

      TSA screening is a search. Even though they are searching for things that are a threat to air safety, if they find anything else illegal they can hand you over to the cops. It's called finding something "incidental to a search." No judge will let you raise a 4th amendment defense to this since its already been decided. The state has an overriding interest in air security so they get a limited exception to the 4th amendment. Have a look at the decision in John Gilmore's "free to travel" appeal. He lost

  • Dennis Miller once said:

    "Noticing that 16 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia isn't being racist, it's being minimally observant."
  • FDA approval (Score:4, Interesting)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Friday April 02, 2010 @10:42AM (#31706870) Journal

    So are these new terahertz scanners FDA approved? FDA has guidelines and limits for any radiation exposure events.

    • Re:FDA approval (Score:5, Informative)

      by sampas (256178) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:05AM (#31707126)
      Clearly, it's not safe for pregnant women. It's not even ethical to test on pregnant women, so they'll never be safe for pregnant women. And there are studies that indicate they're not safe. To quote from the UK's Topix: "...according to a US study from Los Alamos National Laboratory, THz waves create resonant effects that may interfere with DNA replication. A 2008 study from Israel came to similar conclusions. In the journal Radiation Research, the researchers note that low power density of THz radiation prompts instability in DNA. They write: "These findings, if verified, may suggest that such exposure may result in an increased risk of cancer." So once again, a new technology is being embraced without adequate safety testing. Does the full-body scan harm children? Is it safe for pregnant women? What about frequent flyers? What about cancer patients?
  • The system is broken: even the experts realize that. Should we be playing with the algorithm, or throwing the whole system out?

    If racial profiling doesn't work, what do we do next? Do we keep going with the security theatre, building a divide between "us" and "them", or do we start attacking the causes of terrorism rather than pretending we can do anything about the effects?

    • The Israelis have trained interrogators, who interview every single human being before they are granted entry into their country. The team is highly professional, and they constantly try to send through their own people with falsified documentation, and if there are any people who are not caught, everyone they passed is terminated from their position.

      Forcing everyone to throw away their water and take off their shoes and get body scanned is a surefire way to give everyone a completely false sense of securit

  • **SSSSSSSSS** (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#31707090)

    Am i the only "european, single male in their 30es" who frequently travels on one-way (business class) tickets?

    Despite my Airline PLATINUM standard (>100,000 miles/yr), in the past i have had frequently a series of SSSSSSS printed on my boarding pass, which was a sure fire 100% way to get pulled over EVERY SINGLE TIME for a "random" search in the security line.

    After a while i just "volunteered" and asked "so, where's the sssspecial line" ?
    i got a weird look, showed my boarding pass, and then the usual "oh, sir, you've gotta come with me, you've been randomly selected for additional security screening".

    I tried to explain to the folks that they need to smarten up, because if they basically tell me at check-in that i'm the "chosen one" when going through security, i would of course have dumped anything which would be "suspicious" to my friends (with non-SSSS boarding passes).

    Unfortunately my honest concerns (and ramblings about randomness and predictability) were usually met by the TSA drones with the famous lack of understanding and common sense.

    I'm glad that MAYBE they are actually doing something reasonable, instead of the "security theater" of the last 10 yrs. but then again.... what am i thinking!

    • by russotto (537200)

      Am i the only "european, single male in their 30es" who frequently travels on one-way (business class) tickets?

      One way with no checked luggage is good for a free "extra ssspecial" search every time, one way alone is probably a flag. Terrorists are likely smart enough to buy return tickets.

    • Re:**SSSSSSSSS** (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fermion (181285) on Friday April 02, 2010 @01:25PM (#31708634) Homepage Journal
      It is the security theatre that bothers me. For instance, last time I traveled my outbound trip was reasonable, as it always is. For some reason my home airport is rational. I was swiped for explosives, appropriately provoked, so to test for stress, and then cleared.

      The return trip was pure security theatre. I carry my electronics on the plane so that no one has to search my checked bag. The TSA person made some sarcastic comment about what I was carrying, but did not really push beyond that. I did not have to explain myself at all. The reason we have TSA people, presumably, is so they have face tot face contact with the passengers and have a conversation to see if everything is kosher, not to create false positives by being sarcastic.

      The it was to the body scanner. Evidently one has to hold perfectly still. In other words, if a terrorist wiggles, then the scanner is worthless. I went through twice, they could not tell anything because I have a hard time holding still, and so I had to be searched. The search would not have discovered an underwear device. BTW, the scanner requires much more time to get through than the metal detector, so one needs to increase the lead time from 30 minutes to 2 hours. All in all a useless machine only suited to perverts

      As it is TSA is just a jobs program, not that I think that is a bad thing. I have respect for those people going to work everyday and doing what they can. In the US a reals day work now seems to be optional. For instance they could be organizing and attending tea parties while the rest of us working people pays their unemployment and disability benefits. But, if we are to have the TSA, we should fund it to a level that they can be well trained and genuinely effective.

    • Re:**SSSSSSSSS** (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Gogo0 (877020) on Friday April 02, 2010 @03:01PM (#31709454)

      Single 27yr-old attractive white male from Alaska (that makes me REALLY white!) here.i have a closely-trimmed beard, nice haircut, nice clothes, and always smile and be very polite with the security folks that deal with me (last thing i want is to piss one of THEM off!).
      i get searched EVERY time, even on return-trip tickets.
      i either check a large backpack with no carry-ons or take the backpack as a carryon with no checked luggage and i get searched either way.

      i must fit SOME profile to be searched so frequently. i cant imagine what, but it doesnt matter too much. i know the drill and its over quickly (two minutes or so), and in japan they dont bother finding a male 'pat-downer' and the security girls reach down the front of my pants to check the zipper or something. maybe thats why i dont complain.

      i was leaving seattle for a business trip (with US Army ORDERS, Army ID, etc) a few months back and my business laptop (US Army tagged) was 'suspect.' the girl doing the swabs and questioning was so disinterested in what she was doing that its possible she was asleep the whole time. i also got searched.

      i think the problem most people have with the TSA and their screening process are the agents like in my anecdote above. its obvious they dont give a shit, they do a visibly poor job, and in the end its a farce and everyone knows it.

  • by diamondmagic (877411) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:09AM (#31707158) Homepage

    Every time technology makes another leap forward, we have to reclaim the Fourth Amendment, and often we have to reclaim the entire Bill of Rights, because technology gives [the authorities] powers that were not envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

    ...Or we could just make the airlines responsible for their own security, then they could decide whether they want the scanners and what types of searches to preform, without running into constitutional issues that the government has.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by amplt1337 (707922)

      9/10/01 called, it wants its society back.

      (...of course, for that matter, so do I. Sigh.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MooseTick (895855)

      " just make the airlines responsible for their own security, then they could decide whether they want the scanners and what types of searches to preform"

      If this were to happen, I doubt most people would be ok with it if some airline decided to perform body cavity searches. And rather than vote with their $$, they would sue the airline for being unfair with their invasive security practices.

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        At least you'd have the choice of not flying with that airline, if you don't like their policies. Right now your only choice is to not fly at all, because they're all subject to the same gov't-imposed policies.

        I think I'd trust an airline's enlightened self-interest over the government's desire to scrutinize and control the people's movements.

  • >> Administration officials have said that, in hindsight, the central failure in the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day, involved inadequate sharing of information."

    I thought that the central failure in the attempted bombing was that the bomb did not go off and burned the guy's pants instead.

          -dZ.

  • in hindsight, the central failure in the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day, involved inadequate sharing of information."

    ...wow. Good thing we didn't know that EIGHT YEARS AGO.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:25AM (#31707328) Homepage

    Do it to everyone and it's "fair." Do it to a select few and it's harassment. It's not harassment when it's based on observation. Observation is ...? Well, how can it be done without invasion of privacy?

  • "Every time technology makes another leap forward, we have to reclaim the Fourth Amendment, and often we have to reclaim the entire Bill of Rights, because technology gives [the authorities] powers that were not envisioned by the Founding Fathers."

    The border crossing - the military check point - has never been a good place to assert your rights to anything.

    Least of all to an immunity from search and seizure.

  • Administration officials have said that, in hindsight, the central failure in the attempted bombing of an Amsterdam-to-Detroit flight on Christmas Day, involved inadequate sharing of information.

    You mean IGNORING of information. How much more intel do you need to screen someone when their own father calls in and says "hey, my son is on a flight to your country, and he's been hanging out with known terrorists. you might want to question him"?? That was simply a case of there was a legitimate threat, and PLE

  • "they are good at finding concealed drugs but haven't found much that could bring down an airplane."

    Wow. Could that possibly be because drug smuggling is not that uncommon, but shitheads actually attempting to bring down airliners really is? Seriously, in the last decade how many attempts HAVE there been, out of the hundreds of millions of passengers flying during that same period? How many hand grenades and Popiel pocket nukes [ronco.com] did they expect to find, anyway?

    "Security theater" beliefs aside, and I'm
  • Anyone else accidentally read the title as "US Changes How Air Travelers Are Screwed"? Hurray for context-induced mental spelling correction!
  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:45PM (#31708252)

    So, I was in Denver recently, and was in a HUGE collection of people at the security line. They had it routed back and forth, to the point where 1000 people were standing in an area maybe 30-40m on a side.

    If you want to blow yourself up, disrupt air travel, and kill a shitload of people, the security line's a better place to do it. (The lethal radius of a 20kg bomb is pretty big, as I understand it...) And I'm sure the analysts know this, and insist on huge security lines anyway -- because it's wonderful theater.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Un pobre guey (593801)
      You are committing the obvious mistakes of 1) being rational and fact-based, and 2) assuming that the purpose is in fact catching "terrorists." In practice, it is indeed security theater for the political arena and the driving forces are a) channeling huge amounts of public funds to the well-connected firms providing the goods and services for TSA, and b) the TSA's first priorities as a bureaucracy: survive and grow.

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