The background checks can take months and months, so they're walking around with a card in the meantime & #8230;That's why so many of these airport employees are arrested so long after the fact, and are continuing to be arrested in sweeps by the Justice Department. When the information finally
does come back, they see they've got somebody out there that has a felony and lied on his application, or has a warrant out, or is in the country illegally"
Civil Rights Issues in Passenger Screening
While the security protocols in relation to typical potential "weapons" in the possession of passengers are fundamentally flawed, federal authorities working with British security services did identify a specific threat in 2006 that precipitated necessary precautions against more than a certain amount of liquid allowed per passenger. Unlike the other senseless concern over nail files and cosmetic scissors, this precaution was justified by virtue of a specific threat in connection with liquid explosives that British authorities discovered within the intentions of several terrorists apprehended in 2006 (Dyer, McCoy, Rodriguez, et al., 2007; Evans, 2007; Larsen, 2007).
However, to the extent more general passenger screening is justified by circumstances (i.e. not for the purpose of interdicting nail files and scissors), one of the most difficult aspects of implementing effective security procedures within the U.S. constitutional framework is the political hot button issue of racial or ethnic profiling (Dershowitz, 2002; Larsen, 2007). Many security experts and legal authorities alike believe that oversensitivity to this issue hampers effective security screening beyond what is necessary to protect fundamental constitutional rights. They point out that the contemporary terrorist threat from radical Islamic operatives justifies differential scrutiny of Muslims in specific circumstances.
Consider, for example, the situation of a public threat against federal buildings issued by an all-male white supremacist group, or alternatively, by a modern all-female incarnation of the Black Panthers who announced their intention to blow up courthouses. In these circumstances, reasonable security protocols would require increased scrutiny of Caucasian males seeking entrance into federal facilities and of African-American females seeking entrance into courthouses. Likewise, in the face of a terrorist threat against the U.S. homeland whose source is primarily radical Islamic extremists (Evans, 2007; Williams, 2004), it is perfectly reasonable to increase scrutiny of certain individuals based on their national or ethnic origin (Larsen, 2007).
Under current interpretation of constitutional law, this is absolutely prohibited (Dershowitz, 2002), but in principle, there is nothing "prejudicial" or "discriminatory" about eliminating the randomness requirement in airline passenger screening scenarios. In that regard, it is especially ironic that bona fide civil rights were routinely, systematically, and purposely violated by federal authorities throughout the second term of the Bush administration without any comparable justification instead of seeking judicial review of ridiculous randomness criteria imposed on airport passenger screening procedures (Larsen, 2007).
For one of the most glaring examples, Russell Tice, then an analyst at the National Security Agency (NSA) came forward as a whistle blower immediately after the expiration of the Bush...
we know for a fact that they showed my phone records to other people in the federal grand jury, and we have asked the court to investigate that" (Huffington, 2009).
Recommendations and Conclusion:
Lessons from Israel
Israeli Mossad agents trained to recognize suspicious behavior routinely conduct spontaneous interviews with airline passengers. Instead of doing so randomly, they scrutinize Arabs more intensely than Israelis, and they do so unapologetically in view of the realities of the circumstances (Hoffman, 2003; Larsen, 2007). The parallel in the U.S. is the importance of developing appropriate exceptions to traditional concepts of civil rights in the narrow area of specific threats that are tremendously more likely to be associated with young Saudi Arabian or Syrian males with student visas than elderly Midwestern females in wheelchairs. Certainly, Islamic passengers are equally entitled to all other presumptions of innocence and all other constitutional rights; on the other hand, there is no constitutional right against reasonable security screening motivated exclusively by the need to maximize screening effectiveness rather than any ethnic or cultural bias.
Until now, the federal government has demonstrated a schizophrenic approach to aviation security, undermining genuinely effective security measures out of concern with the political consequences of applying common sense to passenger screening protocols while ignoring more significant vulnerabilities. Instead of a purposely random element imposed on airport passenger screening, what is required to protect domestic aviation is implementation of the techniques used for decades by the Israeli security services to protect El-Al, the national airline of Israel, a nation profoundly at risk of terrorism since the 1960s.
Dershowitz, a. (2002). Shouting Fire: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age. New York:
Little Brown & Co.
Dyer, C., McCoy, R., Rodriguez, J., Van Duyn, D. "Countering Violent Islamic
Extremism" the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin; Vol. 76 No. 12: 3-9 (2007).
Evans, M. (2007). The Final Move Beyond Iraq: The Final Solution While the World
Sleeps. Florida: Frontline.
Hoffman, B. "The Logic of Suicide Terrorism: Lessons from Israel that America Must
Learn" the Atlantic Monthly; Vol. 291 No. 5 (2003).
Huffington Post. (2009). "NSA Whistleblower Reveals Bush Administration Snooping
on U.S. Citizens, Journalists." Retrieved October 4, 2009 from the HuffingtonPost.com website, at:
Larsen, R. (2007). Our Own Worst Enemy: Asking the Right Questions…
U.S. statistics indicate that 80% of aviation accidents are due to human errors with 50% due to maintenance human factor problems. Current human factor management programs have not succeeded to the degree desired. Many industries today use performance excellence frameworks such as the Baldrige National Quality Award framework to improve over-all organizational effectiveness, organizational culture and personal learning and growth. A survey administered to a sample population of senior aviation
Commercial aviation, therefore, warrants the highest attention to risk management, precisely by virtue of the obvious risks to life and limb first, and devastating financial consequences of materialized risks associated with commercial aviation operations. Designing and implementing a comprehensive risk management program entails specific components to identify potential risks, evaluate their likelihood of occurrence, the magnitude of harm associated with them, and the interrelationship of their statistical likelihood and extent
Aviation Safety Program Management The average air traveler rarely sees the essence of recognizing the aviation safety regulations in place. People only and often recognize the factors of safety after a horrific accident occurs. Within the daily working schedules in the private and commercial flights, countless lives of innocent passengers depend on the full implementation of the safety regulations. These safety procedures are in place to protect the lives of the
Aviation Risk Risk Management in Commercial Aviation Improving airline safety means continually improving policies and procedures based on the most recent evidence. The FAA, ICAO and other professionals in the airline and air freight industry are under continuing pressure to make certain that their policies and procedures represent state of the art, particularly in the area of safety. Air traffic continues to increase on a global level, leading to the need for
Aviation Safety Aviation Security "As the first flights began again on September 15, some crews refused to fly, not confident of airport security. Those who steeled themselves to work entered a strange new workplace. With no guidance from the airlines or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on how to handle potential future hijackings, flight attendants inventoried galleys for objects they could use as defensive weapons. Shell-shocked passengers sometimes hugged flight attendants as
In would appear that cabin safety is still the main goal for the airline industry, as it should be, but it also appears that not enough individuals are paying attention to what is going on and what needs to be changed where the cockpit is concerned. When even a small fire can damage systems that the pilot and crew need to fly and land the plane safely, this is a