Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why Can't All Airlines Run Security The Way Israel Does?

In contrast to the brouhaha over the latest invasive screenings by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on people boarding planes, Michael Totten writes about the advantages of Israeli screenings over the ones done by the TSA. For one thing, Totten suggests that instead of focusing on weapons, the TSA should be focusing on people
The Israelis do. They are, out of dreadful necessity, the world's foremost experts in counterterrorism. And they couldn't care less about what your grandmother brings on a plane. Instead, officials at Ben Gurion International Airport interview everyone in line before they're even allowed to check in.

And Israeli officials profile.
They don't profile racially, but they profile. Israeli Arabs breeze through rather quickly, but thanks to the dozens of dubious-looking stamps in my passport -- almost half are from Lebanon and Iraq -- I get pulled off to the side for more questioning every time. And I'm a white, nominally Christian American.

If they pull you aside, you had better tell them the truth. They'll ask you so many wildly unpredictable questions so quickly, you couldn't possibly invent a fake story and keep it all straight. Don't even try. They're highly trained and experienced, and they catch everyone who tries to pull something over on them.
Claire Berlinski shares her experience with Israeli security:
When I last flew El Al, they began with simple questions: Why are you flying to Israel? To give a lecture? Where? Who invited you? Really? Do you have a copy of the invitation? How do you know them? Really? And you don’t speak Hebrew? None? Why not? You didn’t learn any in school? Why not? It went on for quite some time. Somehow I ended up telling them where exactly I’d gone to kindergarten. That’s not one of those details that would be easy to manufacture on the spot.

The impression I had above all was that they were really paying attention to what I said. They weren’t rude. But I had no doubt they were thinking very closely about whether the details added up.
The bottom line is simple: the difference between US security measures and Israeli security measures is that Israeli measures inspire confidence:
The system has its advantages, though, aside from the fact that no one looks or reaches into anyone's pants. Israelis don't use security theater to make passengers feel like they're safe. They use real security measures to ensure that travelers actually are safe. Even when suicide bombers exploded themselves almost daily in Israeli cities, not a single one managed to get through that airport.
Israeli security inspires confidence not because their track record proves they know what they're doing without relying on chance.

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Garnel ironheart said...

The Israelis do security because they have to.
The Americans do it to create jobs and because they have to look like they're doing something.

Daled Amos said...

The Americans do it...because they have to look like they're doing something.

With the more recent incidences of terrorist attempts, I would think that the US is getting more serious--just that they don't really know how to do it effectively.