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TSA Rumor of the Day: Agency Ready to Adopt Israeli 'Common-Sense Security' Model?

March 18, 2011 at 3:16 PM | by | ()

So. The talk is that the TSA is "ready" to adopt Israeli-style in-depth security. But! This isn't going to happen. It's not the way that TSA operates. It's not the way an organization that recruits with pizza box ads is capable of operating. And—even if none of that was true—DHS Secretary Napolitano and TSA head Pistole have both repeatedly said that they're not going to do it.

Thus, this whole rumor is more an overeager Washington Times reporter getting an overeager Israeli security official to go on the record about something that's not technically true, but it's still kind of an interesting thought experiment: what if the TSA went Israeli in response to all the criticism it rightly gets, like this report says they're considering?

It wouldn't, as some people suggest, mean that TSA officials would start racially profiling passengers. As Shin Bet internal security official Arik Arad explains, it would actually mean the opposite of that. Because "the profile changes," what you actually need are people trained to pick out abnormal behavior. That requires probing every passenger group with a set of questions proven to "uncover anomalies that can lead to identifying terrorists through further screening," something that sounds scary but actually means asking things like "what hotel are you staying at?"

Historically the questions have been good enough to pluck out terrorists who didn't even know they were carrying bombs. They're that good, even though Arad describes the whole system as merely "common-sense security."

The catch is that you need to hire quality screeners and—again—TSA's current recruitment model involves printing ads on pizza boxes and promising "x-ray vision" superpowers to anyone who signs up. This is an agency that responds to security lapses not by firing the people responsible but by punishing the pilots who expose them.

They respond to flaws in their technology by denying those flaws exist—they did it again on Wednesday—which makes it hard to fix things. So even though Arad says that he "met with the people of the TSA, and...must admit their reaction is good," we're highly skeptical that changes are coming.

[Photo: Cccc3333 / Wiki Commons]

Related Stories:
· TSA to go Israeli? [Washington Times]
· Israel Travel [Jaunted]
· Airport Security [Jaunted]

Archived Comments:


I am not sure the TSA could actually process this type of of procedure. Besides a 45 minute interrogation for a 20 minute flight is a bit onerous.