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USA Today
Fliers face tighter screening for explosives

WASHINGTON — Starting Monday, the government will intensify airport screening...

More discretion. TSA screeners will be given greater authority to refer passengers for extra scrutiny if clothing looks bulky, misshapen or otherwise suspicious. Some passengers also will receive expanded pat-downs when screeners consider it warranted. Currently, they concentrate mostly on arms and legs. Now, they'll be able to pat other areas if they look suspicious. TSA spokeswoman Yolanda Clark would not elaborate, citing security.

...Critics say additional pat-downs could make some people, especially young women, feel uncomfortable.

Just in time for my trip to the US next week...

via Cory @ Boing Boing


Just don't go carrying any weighted bookmarks or you'll be blogging from prison!

I guess I'll have to go out of my ways to avoid standing behind sexy looking women at airport checkpoints.

If you read Friday's Financial Times you'll see that big changes (for the better) are coming to the visa process for regular visitors. An expansion of the US frequent flier program that TSA is testing, apparently.

Andrew, you should read some Bruce Schneier... creating "low security" processes for regular visitor to counterbalance tighter security measures for occasional fliers makes the situation even worse. What do you think the next 9/11 crazy ass will do? Fly more often (or with identities/credit-cards of frequent fliers) and wear a nice suit... this way he'll probably be even less controlled than today. But it will be much more difficult for skater-looking teenagers to smuggle pot from Amsterdam into the country. Oh, joy.

Joi, did I ever tell you about almost ending up in serious dutch with the Japanese security screeners on one of my trips back to the US, flying out of NRT?

They didn't have magnetometer wands, and they were physically patting me down after I set off the walk-through (just like the cops on TV). I'm very ticklish but was doing a decent job of keeping it together until I looked down, saw a white-gloved hand frisking me, and it suddenly popped into my head that I was being searched by Mickey Mouse... and I just lost it.

Needless to say, the Japanese officials were not amused by this big foreigner they were screening suddenly collapsing in peals of laughter, and seemed to regard my explanation that I was very ticklish with extreme suspicion.

Giacomo --

The idea is to have a process that annoys and catches terrorists more often, and annoys and catches innocent travelers less often. Obviously _no_ security is not an option, so don't you think it's better to try to improve the process?

I can't agree that over the long term there's _no_ possibility they can improve the process. It's just a matter of iterative refinement...

BTW, I would not characterize them as "low-security processes" for regular visitors. They are hopefully high-security processes, but much more efficient and accurate at identifying those who voluntarily prove their identity.

Clothing misshapen, bulky or otherwise suspicious? Sounds like the fashion police are now in charge of airport inspections! Extended patdowns? Well, if you have a huge belly, a big butt, fat flabby arms hiding under all of that misshapen, tacky Walmart-purchased clothing, you are automatically under suspicion. Expect delays at US airports -- how many American passengers do you think fit this profile? I'd say a lot.

"The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile, and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That's simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown, and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding U.S. citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are normal, nondescript people. Intelligence reports indicate that al Qaeda is recruiting non-Arab terrorists for U.S. operations. Airport security is best served by intelligent guards watching for suspicious behavior, and not dumb guards blindly following the results of a Trusted Traveler program."