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I am a dual citizen (IL/USA), have flown in/out of many airports around the world, know my way around a security apparatus.

Every time the TSA pulls another ridiculous stunt in the name of "security", these Israeli airport security consultants get interviewed to death. Here we go again!

As before, every article on the subject stops short of highlighting the uncomfortable truth which precludes the TSA adopting the Israeli model: a lack of brainpower among TSA screeners.

The article correctly points out that the Israeli model is more about evaluating the person and less about evaluating their luggage. Problem is, evaluation implies good judgment -- a quality demonstrably lacking in enough TSA agents as to make a generalization accurate. The TSA does not employ the quality of manpower that it needs to in order to base its operations on subjective character evaluations.

Even if the TSA were able to foot the bill and hire/train such manpower, it would still be unpalatable to enough people in the US that such a system would fail. Evaluation is inherently subjective and discriminatory. There is no impartial way to say "I'm deciding whether or not you represent a threat." Some agents will let their personal views influence their judgment. Some passengers will inevitably feel persecuted for their skin color, rightly or wrongly. Several lawsuits later, the system would be neutered to the point where agents are no longer free to exercise their judgment, and we're back to square one.

Finally, it's worth noting that the security expert in the article is spinning a rose-tinted tale of airport efficiency experienced mainly by Jewish passengers. Ask an Israeli Arab and you'll likely hear a tale of exasperating interrogations and adversarial, dumb agents -- much like the TSA.

I wrote more on the subject a few months ago, in a comment for a similar article: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1025173

Feel free to ask me questions, I'll answer to the best of my knowledge.




Another way of looking at things: implementing the Israeli security approach in US airports is like trying to switch a large enterprise (say, IBM-large) from classical waterfall software development to agile methodologies. It's an almost impossible task because not every team can handle the flexibility, ambiguity and self-responsibility of agile.




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