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TSA modifies post-Christmas security measures


After receiving howls of protest from Middle Eastern and African nations over the temporary restrictions imposed in the wake of the Christmas bombing attempt aboard a Detroit-bound Delta aircraft, the US Transportation Security Administration issued revised security procedures, eliminating the 14-country security threat list.

The new policy instead bases new procedures on intelligence gathering than the usual method of reacting to a given incident, which had more observers saying the agency is only good for closing the barn door after the horse was out. TSA said increased vigilance would be tailored to intelligence about potential threats and are focused on all passengers from all countries.

The agency received widespread criticism for its post-Christmas rules, with critics saying TSA needed to overhaul its policies so they would pro-active rather than reactive. See related report: US aviation security: Do something, no matter what

The 03-Jan-2010 policy mandated extra screening for any one coming from or traveling through 14 Middle Eastern and African nations. The Department of Homeland Security called the procedures “new enhanced security measures for all air carriers with international flights to the United States.”

Resulting from intense consultation with governments around the world, the new policy consists of “more flexible security protocols tailored to reflect the most current information available to the US government will apply to all passengers traveling to the United States.”

DHS noted that Napolitano, with ICAO, has been working on a global initiative to strengthen international security in multilateral and bilateral contexts with governments, as well as industry. Over the past three months, Secretary Napolitano has participated in regional aviation security summits around the world in Spain, Mexico and Tokyo, forging historic agreements with her international colleagues to strengthen the civil aviation system through enhanced information collection and sharing, cooperation on technological development and modernised aviation security standards.

“These new measures utilise real-time, threat-based intelligence along with multiple, random layers of security, both seen and unseen, to more effectively mitigate evolving terrorist threats,” said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano. “The terrorist threat to global aviation is a shared challenge and ensuring aviation security is a shared responsibility. I commend our many partners around the world who have taken steps to increase their own security measures through deployment of new technology, enhanced information sharing and stronger standards to keep air travel safe.”

The agency said passengers in-bound to the US may notice enhanced security and random screening measures throughout the passenger check-in and boarding process, including the use of explosives trace detection, advanced imaging technology, canine teams, or pat downs, among other security measures.

Even as it was releasing its new aviation policy, Napolitano also released the year-long results of security efforts for surface transport, including mass transit, both commuter and long-distance passenger rail, as well as freight, trucking and pipelines. The assessment was developed with federal, state, local and tribal government partners, as well as the private sector and provides a comprehensive framework of recommendations to enhance surface transportation security.

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