After over a week of uncertainty, subpoenas to bloggers and false positives, the governement has settled on a comprehensive package of new security measures following the failed terror attempt on Christmas day.
Politico.com appears to have the first mention of these new measures. As usual, the government is slow on releasing their own news.Tomorrow, we’ll probably see some official mention from the DHS web site, unless they plan to keep it a secret, and wait for bloggers to leak it again.
The measures include:
- 100% of passengers flying to the United States from a country on a “state sponsor of terrorism” list will be patted down, and will receive enhanced luggage screening.
- Passengers from Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen will be added to a list of “countries of interest” and will also receive additional screening.
- Passengers from all international airports will receive random enhanced screening. This could be a pat-down or screening through advanced imagers (whole body imaging), explosives puffers or other equipment.
As much as I love to complain about airport security, these new measures seem to make perfect sense. There are of course still some unknowns – how will passengers transiting be screened, and how quickly will international airports be forced to introduce upgraded screening equipment. [Ed. note: this is particularly interesting in light of the revelation that a full-body scan wouldn’t have detected the Christmas Day bomber, anyway.] There is of course also the issue of how the Department of Homeland Security plans to enforce the new measures, and how they plan to audit foreign measures, especially since they have a hard enough time keeping an eye on their own domestic security.
In the end, we’ll probably all need to get used to enhanced screening for flights heading to the United States, at least until someone wishes for “world peace” and has their wish granted.
UPDATE: The BBC has a more comprehensive report on the upcoming changes. Mainly pointing out that “terror-prone” countries will be targeted.
UPDATE 2: The TSA has found someone to update their web site on a Sunday evening -but their statement is short and contains no new information.
UPDATE 3: An unidentified member of the TSA has listed the 14 “countries of interest” that will trigger these additional measures. Interestingly and unusually, this directive does not have an expiration date and is intended to be “sustainable and long term.”
Additionally, pilots still have the ability to curtail pillow and blanket use, and limit passenger movement in the cabin during any portion of the flight.
UPDATE 4: The TSA is serious about breaches, folks. On Sunday night, flights out of one terminal at EWR were halted for seven hours as officials investigated a possible security breach. Unfortunately, the person who caused the alert was never located.
PRO TIP: Leave the rhinestone-encrusted grenades at home. Don’t even put them in your checked bags.
UPDATE 5: Despite the obvious need for leadership from TSA, the Senate is still locked in a standstill over the President’s nominee to head the TSA.
Interestingly, even US citizens flying into the US from overseas will face enhanced security inspections, which may include full-body pat-downs. And by “full-body,” we mean “private parts,” too.