Tightening Air Security Will Take a Toll
Most options come with costs Congress, or fliers, find unpalatable
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2009 12:11 PM CST

(Newser) – The White House is talking tough about airline security after Friday's failed bombing, but many options for tightening up the system are either politically untenable, repugnant to travelers, or both. Josh Gerstein takes a look at a few possibilities, and their likelihood of becoming reality, in Politico.

  • Expand the no-fly or stricter-screening lists: Suspect Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was on the larger TIDE watch list of 550,000. Some argue all 550,000 suspicious persons should be subject to more stringent screening. Are you nuts? a Bush official wonders. "You’d have this meltdown." Not likely, Gerstein writes.

  • Better screening tech: Whole-body scanners are already scheduled to roll out in 2014, despite privacy concerns and bipartisan opposition in Congress. But they could have caught the underwear explosives, and are on the schedule. Highly probable.
  • Profiling by gender, religion, nationality: Might work, might not, but would certainly interfere with winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. The chances are "slim, at least officially," Gerstein writes. "But unauthorized use of such profiling will probably increase regardless of what Obama says."
  • Straight talk: Instead of trying to make travel super-safe, Obama could explain that there will always be risk. Then again, that sounds a bit weak. Don't look for any admissions of fallibility, at least not yet.
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