“Opinion: Sensible security

Airport screening gets smarter without profiling The Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette It has taken too long, but the Transportation Security Administration is learning how to identify -- without profiling -- airline passengers who are less likely to be terrorists. People who are at least 75 years old now will be considered low risks to air safety. Last September, TSA began testing a "known traveler" program at several airports. Selected members of frequent-flier programs, as well as people enrolled in three programs run by the Customs and Border Protection Agency, gave more personal information to the federal government so they could be checked out in advance. Travelers deemed low risks go through special security lines, have a special boarding pass, keep their shoes and belts on, and don't have to remove their laptops and liquids from their baggage. In February, the program was expanded to 28 more airports. Now the federal agency has decided that elderly passengers can keep their shoes and light jackets on. They will go through screening equipment more than once if something unusual shows up the first time. That should reduce the number of embarrassing pat-downs. TSA adopted similar rules for children 12 and under last fall. The changes likely are a response to outrage over what many people considered overly intrusive screening procedures. The new program began this week at airports in Chicago, Denver, Orlando, and Portland, Ore. If it doesn't lead to a rash of terror scares perpetrated by seniors, other airports likely will adopt the procedures in a few months. In 2010, almost 800 million travelers passed through U.S. airports. Only a tiny fraction of them posed a security risk. But the Christmas Day 2009 near-miss by underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab near Detroit showed that if a single terrorist slips through, hundreds of people could die. As TSA screeners look for the terrorist needle in the airline-passenger haystack, they have to be sensitive to civil rights issues as well as privacy concerns. Profiling is an easy but unacceptable solution. The changes don't exempt airline passengers from screening. Instead, they acknowledge that one-size-fits-all screening is not only unnecessary but also inefficient. Do you have an opinion about this story? Share it with other readers in our CAA Discussion Forums http://www.californiaaviation.org/dcfp/dcboard.php ***************************************** 

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