Should the US adopt Israeli-style airport security measures? A debate over just that issue has been running at full steam over the past few days due to profound public criticism of invasive security techniques which include a full body search and pat down in intimate areas.
House or Representatives delegate for Utah Jason Chaffetz, on Monday called for a probe into methods employed by Transportation Security Administration agents and for a look into alternative methods which would be based on the use of sniffer dogs with secondary use of screening machines and implementing behavioral profiling as Israel does.
In the past, Americans vetoed the security system used at Ben Gurion Airport claiming it casts suspicion on one sector in an inclusive fashion, namely, against Arabs and Muslims. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained on Monday that the reason US authorities refused to adopt Israeli methods was because "Israel has one international airport and we have 450 of them that makes all the difference".
And yet, it seems that the American public disagrees. A Washington Post and ABC network poll revealed that 70% of Americans support adopting the Israeli profiling system and its implementation in US airports.
Since last month, 400 screening machines were introduced at 70 of the US' largest and most sensitive airports, three of them operate at three international airports in the Washington DC area. Anyone refusing to undergo the invasive screening is forced to undergo an invasive body check and pat down, which aroused harsh reactions from the public.
Seeds of public rebellion against airport security policies were evident on Monday. The White House press pack made Press Secretary Robert Gibbs sweat as they flung question after question on the security issue. He was forced to clarify that the issue was a work in progress which "has evolved", where the goal is to ensure air traffic security while at the same time keeping the invasion of privacy at a minimum.
Meanwhile, that same poll which called on authorities to adopt Israeli security methods, also indicated the two thirds of the American population support fill body scans for passengers and have a clear preference for fighting terror – even when it comes with an invasion of their privacy, something which is usually very important to Americans.
That said, half of the poll respondents clarified that they are against invasive passenger body checks. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also made an attempt to calm the growing storm over airport security methods saying that the new security methods are essential to public safety.
"There is an ongoing threat on airports from those who seek to smuggle powders and substances that can be used to blow up airplanes, the new technology was designed to assist in spotting terrorists"
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