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Government Privacy Security Transportation

US Changes How Air Travelers Are Screened 260

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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  • Re:Drug cases (Score:2, Informative)

    by corran__horn ( 178058 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @11:51AM (#31706964)

    That actually flies in the face of two centuries of constitutional law. Just because Bush decided to scribble with crayon on a fine historical document doesn't mean that what was written in ink and blood was changed.

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

    by sampas ( 256178 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @12:05PM (#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?
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Friday April 02, 2010 @02:19PM (#31708560)

    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. []

    Therefore all these "security changes" are 100% bullshit. No amount of hassling passengers will make any difference as long as the people in charge can arbitrarily exempt the ones that are actually known to be dangerous.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur