President Obama has signed off on new security checks for people flying into our humble nation to partake of its earthly goods and pleasures, “establishing a system that uses intelligence information and assessment of threats to identify passengers who could have links to terrorism, a senior administration official said Thursday.”
Which is, we thought, what we already had. So what’s “new,” exactly, about these security protocols? Inquiring minds (i.e., ours) wanted to know. (Please, please — no more Ziploc baggies!)
Unfortunately, a perusal of the New York Times‘ 1,000-word piece about the new approach leaves little clear.
“It’s much more tailored to what intelligence is telling us and what the threat is telling us, as opposed to stopping all individuals from a particular nationality or all individuals using a particular passport,” the administration official said Thursday, speaking on the condition of anonymity in advance of the formal announcement.
The intelligence-based security system is devised to raise flags about travelers whose names do not appear on no-fly watch lists, but whose travel patterns or personal traits create suspicions. The system is intended to pick up fragments of information — family name, nationality, age or even partial passport number — and match them against intelligence reports to sound alarm bells before a passenger boards a plane.
So, ideally, if a potential bomber’s own father had reported him as dangerous, or if he was on a “watch list” but not specifically a “no-fly” list, this system would snag him before he got on a plane with explosives in his undies.
The system will also be “intelligence-based” instead of “traditional profiling”…and adapted to present-day threat situations. For example,
If terrorist groups are recruiting college-age men who have spent time in Asia and have been to the Middle East, that type of travel pattern would raise a flag to officials at international airports.
But all of this ambiguity is not the fault of the Times, now, is it? If they told everybody what the real new security protocols were, they’d have to kill us. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will announce the new measures today.
Clusterfuck, we await you.