Hopping a plane is becoming an invasive nightmare for the American commuter who is simply trying to get from Point A to Point B with the minimal amount of upset and hassle. But when the price to pay for a terror-free flight is the compelling choice between a radiated potion of nuclear particles or a gloved hand groping your groin, maybe it’s time for America to face up to the farcical sham that passes for airport security.
The obvious omission from our so-called security approach at US airports is the application of plain old common sense. In the name of sharing the shame equally, the Transportation Security Administration has implemented procedures that are cumbersome, slow, and grossly inefficient, not to mention intrusive, humiliating, and a bloody waste of time. Our governmental betters blunder around playing a decidedly dubious defense, reacting to breeches and threats with more of the same clumsy and heavy-handed mauling of the US commuter.
Our government’s airport security strategies have really nothing to do with airport security. Their focus is almost exclusively on flight security, not the airport. Anyone can walk into an airport in the US and mill around with hundreds of other passengers shuffling through ticket lines and congregating in restaurants and shops. The so-called security only kicks in when boarding passengers approach the gates. That’s when the feel-up and feel-down frolics begin. The passengers who successfully run the gauntlet of gropes by enduring the nuclear peep show or suffering the manual mugging are now sitting in a nice safe zone waiting for their call to board. But what about the thousands of other folks freely moving through the airport terminals? Just how safe and secure are they? And should we be concerned about it?
After 9/11, there has been a pinpoint focus on flight security and justly so. But the government’s myopic view of terrorism and its threat to the every day traveler and the public at large may be a case of fighting today’s threat based on yesterday’s attack.
It’s time to stop the competence charade and start implementing methods long proven effective and efficient. The obvious answer to commuter travel and the threat of terrorism is to Israelify airport security. And the key to Israelification of security is Behavioral Profiling.
Following is an excerpt from an interview with Rafi Sela, President of AR Challenges, a global security consulting firm. Sela describes the Israeli approach to airport security and shakes his head in disbelief at the inept nonsense that passes for security in the US and Canada.
The first layer of actual security that greets travellers at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport is a roadside check. All drivers are stopped and asked two questions: How are you? Where are you coming from? Two benign questions. The questions aren’t important. The way people act when they answer them is.
Once you’ve parked your car or gotten off your bus, you pass through the second and third security perimeters. Armed guards outside the terminal are trained to observe passengers as they move toward the doors, again looking for odd behaviour. At Ben Gurion’s half-dozen entrances, another layer of security are watching. At this point, some travellers will be randomly taken aside, and their person and their luggage run through a magnometer.
You are now in the terminal. As you approach your airline check-in desk, a trained interviewer takes your passport and ticket. They ask a series of questions: Who packed your luggage? Has it left your side? The whole time, they are looking into your eyes — which is very embarrassing. But this is one of the ways they figure out if you are suspicious or not. It takes 20, 25 seconds
At the check-in desk, your luggage is scanned immediately in a purpose-built area. The screening area is surrounded by contoured, blast-proof glass that can contain the detonation of up to 100 kilos of plastic explosive. All the screening areas contain ‘bomb boxes’. If a screener spots a suspect bag, he/she is trained to pick it up and place it in the box, which is blast proof.
Five security layers down and you now finally arrive at the body and hand luggage check. There’s almost no line because they’re not looking for liquids, they’re not looking at your shoes. They’re just looking at you. With all the heightened security in North America, they will check your items to death but they will never look at you, at how you behave.
Isn’t it time the TSA stops its sexualized mugging of children and elderly ladies and all the other ordinary folks who are simply trying to board a plane? There is a better way.