Why They Don’t Need To ‘Touch Your Junk’ At Israeli Airports

November 23, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Fighting against terrorism, an evil which rejects all the basic moral and legal norms of civilized society, is inherently difficult for liberal democracies such as the United States. It forces us  to find the right balance between the protection of civil liberties on one hand and the prevention of violence on the other. It is clear that the latest TSA policy which gives passengers the Hobson’s choice of losing your dignity or staying home is not “balanced.”

Many of the issues in front of our policymakers have previously been faced by Israel, a country that has been under the threat of terrorist attack since its inception in 1948. We keep hearing why can’t we run our airport security the same way they do in Israel. Most people, however do not have a clear idea of what is that “Israeli way.”

The real difference between the Israeli and American approach is the target.  Israel tries to identify and stop the terrorist while the U.S. targets the bomb or other weapon. This approach does not change whether there is a left or right wing Prime Minister in power because the government realizes for Israel, the fight against terrorism is a fight for its very survival. Thus her government and citizenry have a view of preventing terrorism that is unencumbered by the political correctness which restrains efforts in the United States.

The ISA (Israeli Security Agency) calls it  “human factor.” Some part of that human factor would cause Al Sharpton to show up to picket the Airport if it was practiced in the US. Ethnic profiling of passengers plays a central role in Israel’s multi-level  approach. Not just ethnicity is profile, race religion, general appearance and behavior are also part of the information used to profile.  And  wherever that profile is being made, no matter what country  it is being made in, it is an Israeli doing the profile.

All passengers travelling to and from Israel are questioned by security staff. For Jewish Israelis, the process takes a couple of minutes at most, with passengers being asked whether they packed their luggage alone, and whether anyone had access to the luggage once it was packed. Jewish tourists also usually pass through security within a few minutes.

When my family entered the El Al terminal at Newark Airport, we were met by someone who asked  where we came from and where were going. When we got into the terminal and on the line to check in,  an El Al employee asked my 12 year old son (out of my ear’s range) why we were going to Israel. He asked if we were Jewish and when my son answered yes, so followed up by asking the name of our Synagogue and our Rabbi’s name. But while he was asking questions I could feel his eyes gauging my reaction to our kid’s interrogation. The “interrogation” took no longer than thirty seconds.  When he was done with my son, he came to me and asked the same questions (plus the typical who packed your luggage-type queries)  once again gauging my reaction very closely.

Like the Mossad, tank drivers, and air force pilots, Israeli airport security have that super hero, no-nonsense, get to the point directness and efficiency. “Who packed your bags?” “What was your bar mitzah portion?” “Why are you even here visiting?” This quick-fire interrogation was not bothersome but reassuring. We got the feeling that we were dealing with people who knew what they were doing.

Non-Jewish tourists tend to be questioned a bit more thoroughly, and may be grilled over the purpose of their visit and about their accommodation…

… the procedure for Arabs and Muslims can often be lengthy and irritating, ending with a full body and baggage search. Visitors who have passport stamps from countries hostile to Israel are also questioned intensively in what can be a traumatic experience for the uninitiated.

….Anyone admitting to leaving their luggage at an airport or bus station left-luggage area before check-in will have their suitcases stripped, with each item individually checked and re-packed.

In 2008, Israel’s supreme court rejected a petition presented by a group of disgruntled Israeli Arab citizens, backed by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, demanding an end to ethnic profiling as discriminatory and illegal.

If I had been more attentive when I was travelling to Israel,  I would have noticed that throughout the terminal there were “armed eyes” looking at my family as well as everyone else about to get on a plane. These observers were making the same behavioral profiles as the guy who questioned  people on line.

“It is mindboggling for us Israelis to look at what happens in North America, because we went through this 50 years ago,” said Rafi Sela, the president of AR Challenges, a global transportation security consultancy.,.

Officers are looking for nervousness or other signs of “distress” — behavioral profiling. Sela rejects the argument that profiling is discriminatory.

“The word ‘profiling’ is a political invention by people who don’t want to do security,” he said. “To us, it doesn’t matter if he’s black, white, young or old. It’s just his behavior. So what kind of privacy am I really stepping on when I’m doing this?”

There are other differences, most importantly is that you don’t just come off the street and get a job  with the ISA (Israel Security Agency).  These security agents are all ex-military (as most of the country is) and they are selected based on their intelligence and their ability to behavior profile.

Shlomo Harnoy, vice president of the Sdema group, an Israeli security consultancy firm which specialises in aviation security, believes Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian who tried to blow up the Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines aircraft on Christmas Day, would have been detained “within seconds ” at Ben Gurion airport. According to Harnoy, a young Muslim traveling alone, on a one-way ticket, with no luggage, was an obvious suspect.

Harnoy, who once headed the Israel Security Agency’s aviation security department, believes investing millions in new technology is not the answer. “Whoever is concentrating on stopping old ladies bringing a bottle of mineral water on to the plane will not find the terrorist, or the bomb. The old lady is not a suicide bomber and the bottle of water is not a bomb component.”

Not only do most Israeli security selectors have degree-level education, they are trained to the highest standards. The most important element in the “human factor” is that the security guards understand the threat.

And of course, on every El Al flight there are armed air marshals. You won’t know who they are, but I do not recommended you making a fuss mid-air just to find out.

As for my families first brush with Israeli Airport Security, we arrived in Ben Gurion Airport twelve hours later, tired but not even realizing that we went through a more extensive security process than we ever had before.

As the United States defends against the ever expanding threat of Muslim terror, right here on our home turf, success depends on throwing off the shackles of political correctness and adopting the methods of our ally Israel.

However the US is stuck in what seems to be an irreversible and deadly policy of treating everyone the same., even though we are all individuals and very different. The ultimate result is an airport security process that gives you a choice of being abused by a machine or the groping hands of an untrained TSA agent. The present TSA policies put passengers and the X-Ray appliances that reveal their bare bodies in the same category as they are both treated like machines.

During her 62 year fight against terror, Israel has achieved a balance between protection of civil liberties and the prevention of violence. Her decision was that the sanctity of saving human lives  and preserving personal dignity, outweighs the targeting and possible inconvenience of the extra questioning of a few.

Or in the words of that great philosopher from the band KISS, Gene Simmons ;

I think we should be racially profiling anybody from the Middle East … and as an Israeli; I want you to look at me first. I want you to search my anal cavity and look at my tax records. I want you to look at me first, and then at every guy named Muhammad.


Big Government

Report: Napolitano considering Hamas-linked CAIR’s demands for Muslim women in airports, including the “self-pat-down”

November 19, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The Department of Homeland Security needs to clarify its position here without delay. CAIR advised Muslim women in the press release quoted here that:

“Instead of the pat-down, you can always request to pat down your own scarf, including head and neck area”…

Two facts should be self-evident to demonstrate how outrageous this idea is. First, the whole point of being searched by someone else is to find concealed objects. A “self-pat-down” clearly defeats that purpose and is a completely unacceptable lapse in security. Let’s remember the stakes here: if something goes wrong in air security in the wrong place at the wrong time, people die. There is enough margin for error in the system already without adding this variable.

Secondly, the fact that Napolitano could even be considering such a measure highlights a double standard for special treatment that would not be considered for any other religious group, but is extended to Muslims without a second thought. What is going on here is a politically correct sort of anti-profiling: by all appearances, the air security apparatus bends over backwards to profile Muslims as not being a threat, in a way that it does not strive to reassure other demographic groups in the traveling public.

We are told time and again that Muslims in America just want to be treated like everyone else. Ergo, if you want equal treatment as a Muslim woman, participate in your social responsibilities equally even when it is awkward or inconvenient, rather than acting like some kind of demigoddess whose head and neck are untouchable by sullied human hands in the screening line. Your head and neck are as human as that of the next non-Muslim lady in line who is no more thrilled to be there than you are.

But let’s remember why we’re standing there waiting with our shoes in a plastic bin, and why so many security procedures have come into being in the first place: Islamic jihadists keep trying to bring down our planes, more and more with explosives concealed on their bodies.

“Napolitano considering allowing Muslim women to pat themselves down at Airports!” by Jack Minor for the Greeley Gazette, November 17 (thanks to C.):

With the holidays fast approaching, the Transportation Safety Agency has announced new security procedures requiring passengers selected for secondary screening to go through a machine that produces a full body scan producing a nude but grainy, black and white image. Passengers choosing to opt out of the scan will face a full body pat.

The problems these security measures pose should be discussed in the interest of the entire traveling public, pilots, and flight attendants, and not as the problem of one group.

The head of Homeland Security has indicated the government is considering the request of an Islamic organization that has suggested Muslim women be allowed to pat themselves down during a full body search that is part of new enhanced procedures at airports.

Since implementing the procedures, numerous complaints have arisen that the search is not a “pat-down” but rather feeling and grabbing along a person’s genitalia and other areas until they meet resistance. Critics have said the pat-downs would be considered sexual assault if performed elsewhere.

The TSA defends the procedures as necessary in light of last years “underwear bomber” and the recent issues involving printer cartridges being used in an attempt to blow up cargo planes.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, has expressed concern with the TSA over the regulations and recommended special procedures for dealing with Muslim women. The organization issued a travel advisory for Muslims over the procedure.

In the advisory CAIR advises all Muslims to contact them and file a complaint with the TSA if they experience any “disturbing incidents” with the new procedures and they feel they have been unfairly singled out for screening.

It goes on to make special recommendations for Muslim women wearing a hijab covering their face. The advisory says women are to inform the officer they are only to pat down the head and neck and says “They should not subject you to a full-body or partial body pat-down.” They also recommend that women should be permitted to pat themselves down and “have the officers perform a chemical swipe of your hands.”

Barack Obama’s Homeland Security Czar, Janet Napolitano, is considering changes to the procedures to address the issues raised by CAIR….

Jihad Watch

Germany warns of “concrete indications” of planned jihadist attacks on airports, railways

November 17, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The “misunderstandings” of the Religion of Peace just keep on coming. Funny how that keeps happening, not to mention the uniformity with which Islam is so routinely “misunderstood.” “Germany tightens airport security over attacks threat,” from BBC News, November 17:

Germany is increasing security at airports and railway stations in light of “concrete indications” of terrorist attacks being planned for the end of November.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it followed a tip-off from another, unnamed country.

Germany had information on “sustained efforts” by Islamist extremists to carry out attacks, he said.

He said the extra security would remain in place “until further notice”.

“There are grounds for concern, but not for hysteria,” Mr de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin.

The federal police force has been ordered to step up checks at airports and train stations, he added.

Yemen connection

Mr de Maiziere said Germany had received a tip-off after two parcel bombs were intercepted en route from Yemen to the United States last month. [...]

You’ve lost that dismissive feeling:

The BBC’s Stephen Evans, in Berlin, says a month ago, Germany was dismissive of American warnings of attacks. That feeling has now gone.

Jihad Watch

Did you know airports can opt out of TSA screening?

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

With the latest news of the TSA’s invasive security searches, leaks of nude body scanners, and children crying over these pat downs, Americans are getting sick of it.

But did you know that local airports can opt out of these TSA screenings? NJ and Idaho legislators are introducing legislation to get these scanners out.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Airports Can Opt Out Of TSA Screening

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Apropos of the gathering public outcry against invasive screenings by the Transportation Security Administration that James Joyner wrote about earlier today, Glenn Reynolds passes along a link which shows that airports can opt out of TSA screening:

‘§ 44920. Security screening opt-out program ”(a) IN GENERAL.—On or after the last day of the 2-year period beginning on the date on which the Under Secretary transmits to Congress the certification required by section 110(c) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, an operator of an airport may submit to the Under Secretary an application to have the screening of passengers and property at the airport under section 44901 to be carried out by the screening personnel of a qualified private screening company under a contract entered into with the Under Secretary.

I’m not sure whether this really solves the problem since the private company, and presumably the procedures it uses, must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Nonetheless, to the extent that the TSA is the problem this would seem to be an alternative option.

Additionally, there is news that legislators in New Jersey and Idaho have introduced legislation in their respective state legislatures to ban body image scanners. Whether these laws would have any effect in the face of federal law is unclear, though.




Outside the Beltway

Airports Can Opt Out Of TSA Screening

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Apropos of the gathering public outcry against invasive screenings by the Transportation Security Administration that James Joyner wrote about earlier today, Glenn Reynolds passes along a link which shows that airports can opt out of TSA screening:

‘§ 44920. Security screening opt-out program ”(a) IN GENERAL.—On or after the last day of the 2-year period beginning on the date on which the Under Secretary transmits to Congress the certification required by section 110(c) of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act, an operator of an airport may submit to the Under Secretary an application to have the screening of passengers and property at the airport under section 44901 to be carried out by the screening personnel of a qualified private screening company under a contract entered into with the Under Secretary.

I’m not sure whether this really solves the problem since the private company, and presumably the procedures it uses, must be approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Nonetheless, to the extent that the TSA is the problem this would seem to be an alternative option.

Additionally, there is news that legislators in New Jersey and Idaho have introduced legislation in their respective state legislatures to ban body image scanners. Whether these laws would have any effect in the face of federal law is unclear, though.




Outside the Beltway

A Unionized TSA Will Make Our Airports Less Safe

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

-By Warner Todd Huston

Everywhere you turn the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is getting lambasted. If it isn’t people refusing to abide by TSA directions, it’s stories of a “backlash against body scanners” because of the abusive treatment that TSA employees are doling out to travelers. People are becoming fed up with the whole edifice. But imagine how much worse this situation will get if the TSA is allowed to unionize?

Well, if Obama has his way this is exactly what will happen. Evidence his Federal Labor Relations Authority ruled last Friday that the TSA could, indeed, vote on union representation.

This decision opens the possibilities that the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union could vie to represent the 50,000 employees of the TSA.

Many TSA security officers have already joined one or another of these unions but law prohibits them from collective bargaining at this time. Perhaps early next year this new ruling will allow the TSA officers to choose which of the two unions will exclusively represent them.

So, we have TSA security officers already abusing their positions and as much as molesting travelers under color of authority. Recently a 3-year-old girl was manhandled in a TSA search at an airport. Why were they body searching a three-year-old? The TSA claims it is “the rules” that are at fault. But whether the “rules” are well formulated or not, whether the TSA agents involved were adequately trained or not, the addition of a union will make matters worse.

Imagine trying to confront TSA abuses once a union steps in to prevent any sort of management of employees at all! Plus a unionized TSA would hamper security by taking all flexibility out of the service as union rules settle in to prevent management from making needed changes to reflect a fluid security situation.

There are other dangers that a unionized TSA would present the traveling public. Every time new security rules are needed, for instance, sensitive security intelligence would have to be shared with the union possibly damaging national security.

Additionally, hundreds of those same security agents would be removed from their security positions and turned into union reps and contract negotiators taking experienced officers from the necessary work of security. Once a union is formed these union staff positions will be filled by TSA employees.

Also, TSA managers would no longer be able to reward screeners and security officers for high performance on the job as union rules would prevent merit raises and recognition. This will bring down the level of competence in the TSA just when complaints that the service is already performing badly are growing.

TSA employees should not be allowed to unionize. Collective bargaining will make our airports less responsive to a changing security situation, less safe, and far less friendly to travelers.

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Stop The ACLU

30 Airports In 30 Days

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Chadwick Matlin made it his mission. I really can't imagine a greater hell than visiting all those little police-states with shopping.





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