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More reason to allow good old fashioned profiling

Lots more reason:

Britain is facing a new Al Qaeda terror threat from suicide 'body bombers' with explosives surgically inserted inside them.

Until now, terrorists have attacked airlines, Underground trains and buses by secreting bombs in bags, shoes or underwear to avoid detection.

But an operation by MI5 has uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda is planning a new stage in its terror campaign by inserting 'surgical bombs' inside people for the first time.

Security services believe the move has been prompted by the recent introduction at airports of body scanners, which are designed to catch terrorists before they board flights.

It is understood MI5 became aware of the threat after observing increasingly vocal internet 'chatter' on Arab websites this year.

The warning comes in the wake of the failed attempt by London-educated Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up an airliner approaching Detroit on Christmas Day.

One security source said: 'If the terrorists are talking about this, we need to be ready and do all we can to counter the threat.'

All we can means all we can:

As a target for many decades, El Al employs stringent security procedures, both on the ground and on board its aircraft. These effective, though sometimes controversial, procedures have won El Al a reputation for security. In 2008, the airline was named by Global Traveler magazine as the world's most secure airline.

Passengers are asked to report three hours before departure. All El Al terminals around the world are closely monitored for security. There are plain-clothes agents and fully armed police or military personnel who patrol the premises for explosives, suspicious behavior, and other threats. Inside the terminal, passengers and their baggage are checked by a trained team. El Al security procedures require that all passengers be interviewed individually prior to boarding, allowing El Al staff to identify possible security threats. Passengers will be asked questions about where they are coming from, the reason for their trip, their job or occupation, and whether they have packed their bags themselves. The likelihood of potential terrorists remaining calm under such questioning is believed to be low (see microexpression). At the check-in counter the passengers' passports and tickets are closely examined. A ticket without a sticker from the security checkers will not be accepted. At passport control passengers' names are checked against information from the FBI, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), Scotland Yard, Shin Bet, and Interpol databases. Luggage is screened and sometimes hand searched. In addition, bags are put through a decompression chamber simulating pressures during flight that could trigger explosives. El Al is the only airline in the world that passes all luggage through such a chamber. Even at overseas airports, El Al security agents conduct all luggage searches personally, even if they are supervised by government or private security firms.

Flight security measures
 
An El Al Boeing 777 landing at London Heathrow Airport, England. (2005)Undercover agents (sometimes referred to as sky marshals) carrying concealed firearms sit among the passengers on every international El Al flight. All El Al pilots are former Israeli Air Force pilots.

The cockpits in all El Al aircraft have double doors to prevent entry by unauthorized persons. A code is required to access the doors, and the second door will only be opened after the first has closed and the person has been identified by the Captain or First Officer. Furthermore, there are reinforced steel floors separating the passenger cabin from the baggage hold. This is intended to strengthen the plane in case of an explosion.

Following an attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002, all aircraft in the fleet have been equipped with an infrared countermeasures system called 'Flight Guard', developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries to defend them against anti-aircraft missiles. Although comparable systems such as CAMPS are now available for civilian aircraft, there is no information to date about any other airlines deploying such a system. Switzerland and other European countries have expressed concern that flares dropped by the Israeli system could cause fires in the vicinity of an airport. However none of the higher risk countries that El Al aircraft fly to have raised any concerns.

Security controversy and passenger profiling

Critics of El Al note that its security checks on passengers include racial profiling and have argued that such profiling is unfair, irrational, and degrading to those subject to such screening. Supporters of El Al argue that there is nothing inherently racist about passenger profiling and that special scrutiny of Muslims may often be necessary for security purposes.

It won't happen under this administration... at least, it won't happen until one of these surgically implanted bombs go off and hundreds, if not more, are slaughtered, nevertheless, if these threats are credible, if evidence is found to support what we're reading, then why not enact the very counter-measures already in place, and effectively so, in Israel?

Please, anyone, why not?

Crossposted(*).


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Comments (25)

"Please, anyone, why not?"<... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

"Please, anyone, why not?"

Because we don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.
And no one has the guts to tell the ACLU to go get fucked. EVERYONE is scrutinized by El AL security. If the Muslims what to be 'offended', tell them to start doing something about the extremists who have hijacked their religion. Otherwise, sod off!

It won't happen un... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:
It won't happen under this administration...

Just as it didn't happen under the last administration... and it wouldn't have happened under the McCain administration either - or under Republican or Democratic administration, for that matter.

A few thoughts:1) ... (Below threshold)
James H:

A few thoughts:

1) Profiling by race/religion/nationality seems to play a relatively small part in the procedures described. Rather, El-Al profiles based on behaviors.

2) El-Al can implement these procedures successfully, but it is also a relatively small airline. For larger airlines to implement these measures across the board would increase the cost of air travel significantly.

2a) Increasing the cost (and decreasing the utility) of air travel through increased security measures is itself a victory for the terrorists.

3) Implementing very tight security procedures will inevitably lead to the delay and/or detention of innocent US citizens. Would there be some mechanism for such individuals to seek redress?

I have just added a <a href... (Below threshold)

I have just added a Reference List to my economics blog with economic data series, history, bibliographies etc. for students & researchers, also criminological sources.

James H -" For ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

James H -

" For larger airlines to implement these measures across the board would increase the cost of air travel significantly."

More than we're paying the TSA actors to convince us we're secure? Maybe we can dump the TSA and hire El Al?

Man, I don't even want to THINK about how the TSA would screen for implanted explosives... When are they going to start running us through MRIs before allowing us to board?

"You're clean, Mrs. Jones, but you might want to have your liver looked at by your doctor - there was a mass above it in your abdomen that didn't look good, and you might want to stop smoking while you're at it..."

Hey, maybe that'll be part of the Obama Health Plan? Free MRIs when you travel?

Steve Green -

Whenever profiling is mentioned, there's a certain subset of screamers who immediately start to give voice about how "UNFAIR!!!!" it is that anyone be singled out for exam because of age, sex, ethnicity or social status.

I'm sure you're one of the folks who would scream 'RACISM!' loudly if profiling would be seriously considered here in the US - that seems to be about the only response you've got to anything any more...

Idiot green - if hundreds d... (Below threshold)
Michael:

Idiot green - if hundreds died in such an attack here...it would happen. Grow up please.

Luckily we already know a t... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

Luckily we already know a ton about such operations after questioning the Crotch Bomber for THIRTY HOURS before Mirandizing him.

Not long enough, to be sure...but imagine if we'd only questioned him for FIFTY MINUTES before telling him he didn't need to talk to us.

Whew! We're in the VERY best of hands!

p.s. to Stevie Green...you may someday fly on an airplane (post-puberty), and then you may give a damn if that plane blows up!

Man, I don't even ... (Below threshold)
James H:
Man, I don't even want to THINK about how the TSA would screen for implanted explosives...

Coming soon to an adult video store near you.

"Switzerland and other Euro... (Below threshold)
MikeNC:

"Switzerland and other European countries have expressed concern that flares dropped by the Israeli system could cause fires in the vicinity of an airport."

Wow, does anyone else wonder if the Euroweenies have thought about what kind of fires a burning plane crashing as a result of a missile strike might cause?

Just some back of the envel... (Below threshold)
Rance:

Just some back of the envelope computations.

Working with the worst case, Atlanta, which had about 90 million passengers go through last year.

If you spend 1 minute per interview, that 1.5 million hours or 750 man years of interview time.
i.e. 750 new employees plus an additional number of supervisors. But how much can you make a person sweat in 1 minute, if you up that to 5 minutes, that's 3750 man years to do the interviews.

Modern airliners routinely carry 200+ passengers.
If you spend 5 minutes interviewing them, spread over the 3 hours before the flight, you would need 6 interviewer to finish in time.

These have to be highly trained people, not the type of people who are currently working for the TSA in the airports.

Implementing an El Al type system would extremely expensive.


"Idiot green - if hundre... (Below threshold)
Steve Green:

"Idiot green - if hundreds died in such an attack here...it would happen. Grow up please."

Stating the obvious for the cognitively-impaired - thousands died on 9/11 and it didn't happen under a Republican President and a Republican-controlled Congress.

This is just a another lame attempt to paint Obama soft on Security. I'm just pointing out the obvious flaws in that attempt.

It won't happen under this administration... at least, it won't happen until one of these surgically implanted bombs go off and hundreds, if not more, are slaughtered...

It won't happen under any administration - Republican or Democratic.

To add:I can certa... (Below threshold)
James H:

To add:

I can certainly see some form of profiling based on travel plans -- if you're coming back from Yemen or Iran, for example -- or based on their passport country.

And I can certainly see marking down certain persons of interest as individuals if they're under investigation for something.

But if we start in with serious racial or religious profiling, we're going to rapidly get into territory that we might not want to enter. Profile based on race? Subject every Arab, Persian, or Mongolian to extensive questioning?

And profiling based on religion is even more dangerous. Intensively question every Muslim? In that case, we'll need people to identify their religion before they fly ... and I really don't think we want to get into territory wher eyou register your creed with the feds or with the airlines before you fly.

Dangerous territory indeed.

s green "Just as it d... (Below threshold)
Marc:

s green "Just as it didn't happen under the last administration... and it wouldn't have happened under the McCain administration either - or under Republican or Democratic administration, for that matter."

And you know this how exactly? Really, how can you be so sure?

Actually, you're not, you're just guessing based on partisan bullshit.

Typical.

It won't happen un... (Below threshold)
Brett:
It won't happen under this administration... Just as it didn't happen under the last administration... and it wouldn't have happened under the McCain administration either - or under Republican or Democratic administration, for that matter.

As always, absolutely irrelevant. Failing to profile is a fundamental error that is committed by all currently in power.

Liberals fail to do it because they are cowards and so stupid that many have convinced themselves that there is no threat or on foolish idealistic reasons - the old "Constitution is a suicide pact" theory. Republicans fail to do it because they know they will be lambasted for being "racists", even though liberalism is fundamentally based on racism, and Republicans have been responsible for almost every civil rights achievement going back to Lincoln. That, too, is cowardice.

Either will continue until even more people die and *adults* are put in charge.

I know that all this will be confusing to you stevie, because you are still mindlessly arguing Democrat VS Republican issues. The rest of have moved on from that, to liberalism VS Conservatism. You do not have the intellectual capability to understand that. You can only grasp the childish political gibberish you have been sucking from TV.

GarandFan nailed it on the ... (Below threshold)
bobdog:

GarandFan nailed it on the first post:

"And no one has the guts to tell the ACLU to go get fucked."

I don't understand the titl... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I don't understand the title of this piece, "More Reason To Allow Good Old Fashioned Profiling," when that's not what the article describes. I also don't understand some of the more rabid antiliberal comments here since no one is arguing against the El Al type security measures discussed.

Some have said that these measures would be prohibitively expensive. I don't know about that, but I do know that I would have no "civil liberties" type arguments against these measures. Why would I, if EVERYONE is being subjected to the same scrutiny?

I do think Mr Green has a good "Gotcha" when he says that it didn't happen in the previous administration either. If these measures are so obviously wonderful and effective (and I'm not saying they aren't), why weren't they implemented by the steely-eyed realists in the Cheney administration?

And don't gimme that "Scared of the ACLU" excuse. Everybody knows that the previous crew were real tough guys, unllike these weenies in charge now. Right?

"If these measures are so o... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"If these measures are so obviously wonderful and effective (and I'm not saying they aren't), why weren't they implemented by the steely-eyed realists in the BUSH administration?"

FIFY, Bruce.

Because, Bruce, whenever it was suggested all the good little folks who think FAIRNESS is the most important thing whenever it comes to screening for security immediately started screaming about how UNFAIR it would be to NOT subject EVERYONE to the same examinations! So you get the wonderful sight of seeing grandmas in wheelchairs on oxygen given the same screening as toddlers and vacationing families and businessmen and as young men of Middle Eastern descent - because you never can tell who MIGHT be a terrorist!

There comes a point politically where tantrums work. Where screaming at the top of your lungs gets you the desired result, simply because it's not worth the effort to explain repeatedly and in detail why something isn't necessary and why ONLY certain demographics have been involved in terrorism, only to have the same people two weeks later start the same screaming about the same damn stuff. This was a minor issue with everything else going on, and it was more expedient to get a system in place with the restrictions insisted upon than fight the legal battles threatened by the people who insisted upon FAIRNESS.

Huh? "Not worth the effort"... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Huh? "Not worth the effort"????

Could the previous John Wayne types not have got this implemented after 7 YEARS if they had tried?

So, in other words, the guys who were so very very tough on National Security let themselves get pushed around by a bunch of pussy liberal trial lawyers? I thought they were so SERIOUS.

Perhaps they didn't implement these El Al type measures for the very reasons James H. enumerates above - they'd be too expensive on a large scale. Or, at least that may have been the rationale.

Hey, maybe they should have gone ahead and spent that money, instead of spending the trillion bucks we've spent so far in Iraq. At least we'd still have our 4600 soldiers among us.

"Stating the obvious for... (Below threshold)
John S:

"Stating the obvious for the cognitively-impaired - thousands died on 9/11 and it didn't happen under a Republican President and a Republican-controlled Congress."

You're correct. The Senate was held by the Democrats at the time. At any rate the problem of surgically hidden explosives is easy. Make all middle-eastern males walk through the bomb-proof decompression chamber.

"Could the previous John Wa... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Could the previous John Wayne types not have got this implemented after 7 YEARS if they had tried?"

After watching adult children like yourself hyperventilating at the mere MENTION of profiling? Profiling is BAD. Cops can't profile! TSA is a law enforcement service, so THEY can't either!

Hell, they even got the DOJ to issue opinions on profiling.

"America Has a Moral Obligation to Prohibit Racial Profiling. Race-based assumptions in law enforcement perpetuate negative racial stereotypes that are harmful to our diverse democracy, and materially impair our efforts to maintain a fair and just society. As Attorney General John Ashcroft said, racial profiling creates a "lose-lose" situation because it destroys the potential for underlying trust that "should support the administration of justice as a societal objective, not just as a law enforcement objective."
We've apparently got a national moral obligation to cut our own throats before we use an effective method of identifying a demographic which is common to terrorist activities.
Federal Law Enforcement Will Continue Terrorist Identification. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the President has emphasized that federal law enforcement personnel must use every legitimate tool to prevent future attacks, protect our nation's borders, and deter those who would cause devastating harm to our country and its people through the use of biological or chemical weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, suicide hijackings, or any other means.

Therefore, the racial profiling guidance recognizes that race and ethnicity may be used in terrorist identification, but only to the extent permitted by the nation's laws and the Constitution. The policy guidance emphasizes that, even in the national security context, the constitutional restriction on use of generalized stereotypes remains. Racial Profiling
Of course, there's always the chance that the person being profiled is innocent of any wrongdoing. In this case, he was guilty of being nearby while attentive. (And of Indian descent, so he was probably melanin-enhanced.)
CNN.com - Airplane security: Terrorism prevention or racial profiling? - Oct. 2, 2002(FindLaw) -- Dr. Bob Rajcoomar, a 54-year old Florida doctor of Indian descent and former U.S. Army major, recently took a flight with his wife from Atlanta to Philadelphia, during which air marshals subdued and restrained an "unruly" passenger.

The marshals brought the passenger, who had been sitting in economy class, to first class, where Dr. Rajcoomar and his wife were seated. Then one of the air marshals brandished a gun and told all passengers not to leave their seats until the plane landed. (News reports indicate that the whole event had a Rambo-like feeling.)

When the plane landed, the unruly passenger was taken off the flight. So was Dr. Rajcoomar, who was yanked from his seat, handcuffed and thrown into jail. The marshals did not tell his wife what was happening; she wandered around the airport for hours, not knowing what had become of her husband.

Later reports from the Department of Transportation Security -- the agency that supervises marshals -- said that Dr. Rajcoomar was jailed because he had "watched the event too closely" or "observed the event too closely." But it seems hardly surprising that he -- and indeed, any other passenger -- would have paid close attention to what was occurring. After all, their lives seemed to be in danger.
So - damned if we do, damned if we don't, damned if we even LOOK. Isn't politically correct thinking FUN?

Sod off! Steve Green!... (Below threshold)
914:

Sod off! Steve Green!

What were you trying to say... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

What were you trying to say there, Mr Lawson? That was the most schizophrenic comment I've ever read, even counting your comment # 5.

Are you arguing in FAVOR of "good old fashioned profiling" or AGAINST it?

Ah, Bruce - you're such an ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ah, Bruce - you're such an intellectual I'll let you figure it out. After all, I dare not strain my puny intellect trying to explain it to someone like you. Why, I may need to actually walk and breathe at the same time in the near future.

Besides - you'll interpret it in your own fashion anyway. You always do, don't you?

I'd have to be Sigmund Freu... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

I'd have to be Sigmund Freud to figure that one out.

You recount a horror story about some poor schmuck who got caught up in a shitstorm while he was minding his own business, which sounds like a case AGAINST "good old fashioned profiling." This is preceded by a couple of paragraphs of common-sense quotes from Bush adminisration types explaining why they're not using "good old fashioned profiling." Then you end with some non-sequitur about political correctness, implying that you are in FAVOR of "good old fashioned profiling."

Meanwhile, the article, despite its title, isn't really about "good old fashioned profiling" at all, but about the type of security procedures El Al uses.

I also don't know the reason for the angry tone, Mr Lawson. I honestly was asking for clarification, that's all.

Profiling has failed us; we... (Below threshold)

Profiling has failed us; we don't need profiling to identify Individuals like the Christmas-Day Bomber or the Fort Hood Shooter! There is a better solution!

Virtually all media outlets are discussing whether we should be profiling all Arab Muslims; I will in the one-page explain why we don't need profiling. Over 15 years ago, we at the Center for Aggression Management developed an easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior indicators exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

The Problem
Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether "no-fly list," "explosive and weapons detection," mental illness based approaches, "profiling" or "deception detection" - all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known "profile worthy" group - e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

The Solution
Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

The question is when will our government use true "hostile intent" through the "continuum of aggressive behavior" to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on "aggressive behavior" do the objective and culturally neutral signs of "aggression" clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab's entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.




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