Out of Control Policy Blog

Israeli air security experts insist their methods better than U.S.

The Washington Post reports:

Israel has long held the reputation as home to the world's most stringent airport security procedures. But most passengers aren't frisked, there are no intimately revealing body-imaging scanners, and security experts dismiss as misguided the new, more intrusive American approach that requires pat-downs or highly detailed scans of every passenger.

Instead, they focus on identifying fliers that need more scrutiny because something about them indicates they are riskier.  I.e. they fit a risk profile.  This explicitly means people are NOT treated equally.  If you are much less likely to be a risk, you are much less likely to face additional scrutiny.

Israeli Arabs, who make up about one-fifth of Israel's population, are regularly subjected to a more intensive questioning that goes beyond the routine queries, such as "Where did you just arrive from?" and "Who packed your bags?" They also are subjected to body and bag searches more frequently than Jewish passengers.

Our current system, checking everyone, demonstrably fails as TSA fails to find fake bombs the GAO sends through to test the system. While the Israeli system demonstrably succeeds, having protected them for decades from terrorist threats arguably much fiercer than the U.S. faces.

Profiling may be too politically controversial and time-consuming to implement at much busier American airports. Still, Israeli experts say they believe it is inevitable that the United States will move in their direction, rather than continuing to evaluate millions of passengers as if they are potential threats.

"The profile system gives you the right, logical way to know who to check," Shif said.

Reason has laid out how the U.S. could move away from this empty security theater we practice today and to a more effective system, with three reforms to address the three fundamental flaws in the current approach. First, to remove the inherent conflict of interest, the TSA should be phased out of performing airport screening services. Instead, its role should become purely policymaking and regulatory (and better balanced among all transportation modes). Second, the screening functions should be devolved to each individual airport, under TSA oversight. And third, screening and other airport security functions should be redesigned along risk-based lines, to better target resources on dangerous people rather than dangerous objects.

Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy


« It's Not About NO Airport… | Main | Federal Pay Freeze Side Show… »




Out of Control Policy Archives