Commentary

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

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. Moore leads Reason's policy implementation efforts and conducts his own research on topics such as privatization, government and regulatory reform, air quality, transportation and urban growth, prisons and utilities.

Moore, who has testified before Congress on several occasions, regularly advises federal, state and local officials on ways to streamline government and reduce costs.

In 2008 and 2009, Moore served on Congress' National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. The commission offered "specific recommendations for increasing investment in transportation infrastructure while at the same time moving the Federal Government away from reliance on motor fuel taxes toward more direct fees charged to transportation infrastructure users." Since 2009 he has served on California's Public Infrastructure Advisory Commission.

Mr. Moore is co-author of the book Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008). Texas Gov. Rick Perry said, "Speaking from our experiences in Texas, Sam Staley and Adrian Moore get it right in Mobility First." World Bank urban planner Alain Bartaud called it "a must read for urban managers of large cities in the United States and around the world."

Moore is also co-author of Curb Rights: A Foundation for Free Enterprise in Urban Transit, published in 1997 by the Brookings Institution Press, as well as dozens of policy studies. His work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Orange County Register, as well as in, Public Policy and Management, Transportation Research Part A, Urban Affairs Review, Economic Affairs, and numerous other publications.

In 2002, Moore was awarded a World Outsourcing Achievement Award by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Michael F. Corbett & Associates Ltd. for his work showing governments how to use public-private partnerships and the private sector to save taxpayer money and improve the efficiency of their agencies.

Prior to joining Reason, Moore served 10 years in the Army on active duty and reserves. As an noncommissioned officer he was accepted to Officers Candidate School and commissioned as an Infantry officer. He served in posts in the United States and Germany and left the military as a Captain after commanding a Heavy Material Supply company.

Mr. Moore earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. He holds a Master's in Economics from the University of California, Irvine and a Master's in History from California State University, Chico.