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Daily View: Airport security

Clare Spencer | 09:45 UK time, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Body scannerFollowing the attempt to blow up a transalantic plane at Christmas, Gordon Brown announced new security measures including body scanners and passenger profiling. Commentators discuss the merits of the plan.

The Guardian editorial criticises plans to profile passengers, saying they will create hostility and be ineffective:

"While Islam indubitably has a particular problem with dangerous people on its fringes, these remain such a tiny drop in the billion-plus ocean of Muslims worldwide that faith-based filtering scarcely makes them any easier to single out. Besides, once it was plainly in the interests of the fanatics to conceal their faith, they would soon do so by ditching the clothing and even the names that identify it."

Sam Leith in the Evening Standard thinks new security measures are put in for show:

"The political necessity of being seen to do something in the wake of a terror attempt means security rules are always out of sync. We wait for something we know was possible to be attempted, then panic about it. We're like public-health programmes vaccinating against last year's strain of flu."

In the Guardian Jennifer Abel conveys the problems with US security measures on flights:

"If we were really serious about airline security, we'd imitate the tough-but-effective system Israel uses to keep El Al terrorism-free. But the Israeli method requires real money and effort, intelligently spent: its security agents are expert professionals, and compensated accordingly. America, with many more airports to worry about than Israel, focuses on quantity over quality in its security agents."

Anne Applebaum at Slate sees security measures as a waste of money:

"When someone invents a way to hide explosive powder inside a toothbrush case, prepare to remove your toothbrushes, too. And while you're at it, throw a pinch of salt over your left shoulder as you walk onto the plane. But never, at any moment, imagine that the rigmarole of airport security is guaranteed to make you safer, for no one knows which of these measures, if any, is necessary."

Christina Zaba in the Guardian recalls a possible legal problem with body scanners brought up in the Manchester trial:

"Within a few hours of the announcement that the next generation of 'convenient, hassle-free travel' was about to hit the security lanes, child protection campaigners were informing Manchester Airport management that any creation of an indecent picture of a child - 'indecent' meaning showing the genitalia, and 'child' meaning someone under 18 - is a criminal offence."

David Millward in the Daily Telegraph advocates improving security specifically on US flights:

"After nigh on every attempt at bringing down aircraft has been aimed at flights to the USA, it would not have been rocket science to have deployed the scanners on these routes."

Simon Davies in the Independent calls the introduction of body scanners reactionary and hocus-pocus:

"Real answers such as subsidising better pay and training for security staff at airports in developing countries may not be fashionable or even visible. But they would be better than a million body scanners."

Jay Fraser on the US Center for Threat Awareness blog welcomes profiling and body scanners:

"My right to arrive at my destination without being blown up by a jihadist dedicated to exploding himself to smithereens in an act of his exercise of religious freedom is more important than someone else's privacy."

Links in full


GuardianGuardian | Catching terrorists: Why profiling is not the answer
GuardianJennifer Abel | Guardian | Flights of fancy
GuardianChristina Zaba | Guardian | Body scanners: threat to children's rights
Evening StandardSam Leith | Evening Standard | Jihad is little more than pants on fire
TelegraphDavid Millward | Telegraph | Uncomfortable questions about aviation security
IndependentSimon Davies | Independent | Ethnic targeting cannot be pillar of safety
IndependentIndependent | We need intelligence, not scanners
The MajlisEvan Hill | The Majlis | Hello Profiling
Threat WatchJay Fraser | Threats Watch | My Safety & Security Versus "Your" Privacy
SlateAnne Applebaum | Slate | Sense and Security
Huffington PostRani Singh | Huffington Post | A catalyst for a new approach to aviation security

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