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THE ISRAELI MODEL
Some say the U.S. should take a page from Israel's book on security.
At Israeli airports, widely considered the most secure in the world, travelers are subjected to probing personal questions as screeners look them straight in the eye for signs of deception. Searches are meticulous, with screeners often scrutinizing every item in a bag, unfolding socks, squeezing toothpaste and flipping through books.
"All must look to Israel and learn from them. This is not a post-911 thing for them. They've been doing this since 1956," said Michael Goldberg, president of New York-based IDO Security Inc., which developed a device that can scan shoes while they are still on people's feet.
Israel also employs profiling: At Ben-Gurion Airport, Jewish Israelis typically pass through smoothly, while others may be taken aside for closer interrogation or even strip searches. Another distinquishing feature of Israeli airports is that they rely on concentric security rings that start miles from terminal buildings.
Rafi Ron, the former security director at Israel's famously tight Ben Gurion International Airport who now is a consultant for Boston's Logan International Airport, says U.S. airports also need to be careful not to overcommit to securing passenger entry points at airports, forgetting about the rest of the field.
"Don't invest all your efforts on the front door and leave the back door open," said Ron.
While many experts agree the United States could adopt some Israeli methods, few believe the overall model would work here, in part because of the sheer number of U.S. airports - more than 400, versus half a dozen in Israel.
Also, the painstaking searches and interrogations would create delays that could bring U.S. air traffic to a standstill. And many Americans would find the often intrusive and intimidating Israeli approach repugnant.
Some argue that policies against profiling undermine security.
Baum, who is also managing director of Green Light Limited, a London-based aviation security company, agrees profiling based on race and religion is counterproductive and should be avoided. But he argues that a reluctance to distinguish travelers on other grounds - such as their general appearance or their mannerisms - is not only foolhardy but dangerous.
"When you see a typical family - dressed like a family, acts like a family, interacts with each other like a family ... when their passport details match - then let's get them through," he said. "Stop wasting time that would be much better spent screening the people that we've get more concerns about."
U.S. authorities prohibit profiling of passengers based on ethnicity, religion or national origin. Current procedures call for travelers to be randomly pulled out of line for further screening.
Scrutinizing 80-year-old grandmothers or students because they might be carrying school scissors can defy common sense, Baum said.
"We need to use the human brain - which is the best technology of them all," he said.
In The Absence Of Law And Order Society Will Surely Destroy Itself
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