Traveling to the U.S. just got a little more irritating--especially
for foreigners. The Transportation Security Administration is
increasing random screening on all travelers flying into the U.S. and patting down every single passenger from 14 terrorism-prone countries. The new crackdown is in response to the attempted Christmas Day bombing
of Flight 253. The country list includes Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria,
which are considered "State Sponsors of Terrorism" and also "countries
of interest," which include Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
Across the blogosphere, pundits are praising and pillorying the new initiative. Is it a reasonable safeguard or a discriminatory, ineffective over reaction?
- Safety Trumps Privacy, writes Jay Fraser at Threats Watch: "My right to arrive at my destination without being blown up by a jihadist dedicated to exploding himself to smithereens... is more important than someone else's privacy... Profiling? This actually sounds like a reasonable starting point."
- Purely Discriminatory, writes Gregg Carlstrom at The Maljis: "This policy isn't rooted in good intelligence. It's rooted in the fact that these 14 countries are 'the other'; many of them are marginalized and poor. There won't be any widespread domestic outcry over this new policy. It allows the Obama administration to give the appearance of 'doing something' without inconveniencing U.S. citizens. And who cares if a few Nigerians or Pakistanis are subjected to humiliating searches for no good reason?"
- Creates the Illusion of Security, writes James Joyner at Outside the Beltway: "These measures would have done nothing to avert 9/11 or Richard Reid. It's doubtful that they'd have found the bomb hidden in Abdulmutallab's underdrawers with a pat down but it's not inconceivable that they would. But, of course, knowing which 14 countries are being screened, al Qaeda will simply fly future would-be plane bombers out of a different country. Or do their acts on a domestic airliner. Or, perhaps, they'll simply find other crowded targets that don't employ security screening. So this is, once again, a bit of security theater designed to create the illusion we're doing something meaningful."
- Not Good Enough, writes Israel Matzov: "It's an improvement that all travelers from countries like Iran and Syria and Libya are going to be checked, but at the end of the day it's not a solution. What's needed is real psychological profiling like Israel does. Until that happens, the US is just beating its head against the wall and using a system that is not even close to foolproof."
- Exit Question Allahpundit at Hot Air asks: "What's AQ's next move now? Confronting the new security screening head-on via bombs that are fully concealed inside the body? Or a new emphasis on recruiting among western jihadis with passports from, oh, say, Britain? If it's the latter, they'd better move fast: The Brits are rolling out whole-body image scanners at Heathrow as we speak."