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Air safety

Reader comment on item: Time to Profile Airline Passengers?

Submitted by rick (United States), Aug 22, 2006 at 15:14

A disembarking plane may have up to 400 passengers. The plane needs to take-off on time and yet there needs to be a safety check on passengers in case there is a terrorist attempting to get on board. Some kind of system needs to be in place to allow airport security to make a determination of who is the most likely to be that potential terrorist. Otherwise, each passenger boarding the plane needs t go through a time consuming check.

Using the mathematical formula, i.e., every fifth or seventh passenger to be zero'ed in on is obviously absurd. The grandma may be number five and number six could be the most likely person to bring on board a weapon or bomb. How do we know number six is more likely? Because there is a profile based on all other either successful or unsuccessful terrorist acts.

To ignore the profile is to endanger the rest of the passengers who clearly don't fit the profile. Adding other ingredients to the profile- nervousness, overly sweaty, etc. only increases the chance of pinpointing the terrorist.

This is not a game but a matter of life and death. Bringing in politically correct thinking is the absolute wrong way to go. What is needed is professionalism and not politcal correctness.

Even so, one can never be sure. I remember the case of a young Irish woman and her mother who were flying London to Israel. The woman was pregnant with the child of her palestinian boy friend, really boy "fiend" , who packed a bomb in her carry on luggage set to blow up in midair killing everyone on board including his girlfriend, her mother and his baby. It would have been an "infidel" baby so I guess it didn't count. Somehow, she was checked and the bomb was found. She fit no profile and was totally unaware of the existence of the bomb the palestinian gave her at the last minute to carry on, telling her it was a "gift" for a friend in Israel.

So profiling doesn't ways work. But it is a system to be used and perfected with new iinformation to make it more and more effective.

UIntil the day when each passenger can undergo a lie detector test just prior to boarding, it's the best we have.


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