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January 04, 2010

US Institutes Profiling At Overseas Airports

Sure, they won't call it that but that's what it is.

The US transport security administration said all passengers flying into the United States from abroad would be subject to random screening or so-called "threat-based" screens.

But it further mandated that "every individual flying into the US from anywhere in the world travelling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening."

And what countries will be effected by this? Let's see if they have anything in common...

Cuba
Iran
Sudan
Syria
Afghanistan
Libya
Nigeria
Pakistan
Somalia
Yemen
Algeria
Lebanon
Saudi Arabia
Iraq

Cuba is a little odd but it's a state sponsor of terrorism. What else might the rest have in common? Oh yeah, they are majority Muslim nations (though Lebanon and Nigeria have sizable Christian populations).

Welcome to the real world President Obama!

This isn't a fool-proof system, none is. Richard Reid, the original shoe bomber, is a British subject who got on a plane in Paris, so he would not have been subject to this new policy. Also, Abdulmutallab could have just as easily started his fateful flight from London*, not Lagos, Nigeria. It would be better to add travelers carrying passports from these countries to the list of people to be singled out (they will be, see update).

Just for fun, imagine for a moment if Bush had ordered this. The screeching and rending of garments would be unbearable. But since President Wonderful's administration did it, silence.

Still, this is a welcome development. It's almost as if people are realizing that it's not a bunch of Anabaptists running around blowing things up.

Now, if this bunch will just realize that if you catch someone thanks to these additional procedures, you shouldn't treat them as if they are common criminals. Alas, that is likely to prove to be a bridge too far.

Update:

Just after I posted this I saw this update from Tapper's version of the story. It looks like the enhanced security procedures will be utilized for any national of these countries, no matter where they are traveling from.

*"someguy" makes the point in the comments that Abdulmutallab couldn't have made his trip from London since the Brits had him on their Do Not Enter list. Point taken but the wider point still stands, there are plenty of terrorists to be in London and all across Europe who wouldn't have been subject to the policy. The addition of citizenship is an important (but again not fool proof) step in dealing with this.


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posted by DrewM. at 12:04 PM

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