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In 2015, a bombshell report came out detailing how the TSA,
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the agency responsible for airport security in the US,
missed 95% of drugs, explosives, weapons,
and other prohibited items sent through their scanners in a test.
In 2016, the test was repeated with the sameresult.
The following year, 2017,
the test was repeated again with an improved success rate,
but still, it let 70% of prohibited items through.
In fact, within the US,
there’s no evidence that
the TSA has ever prevented a terrorist attack
and outside the US,
there are very few examples of physical airport security thwarting an attack.
Airport security slows people down,
and yet does little to actually improve safety
so it’s safe to say that airport security is broken,
Since the purpose of aviation is to get from one place to another,
it’s tough for a single country to regulate the industry.
Instead, the International Civil AviationOrganization,
a United Nations agency, does.
All but two UN member countries,
Liechtenstein and Dominica,
are part of the ICAO
so its regulations are more or less universal.
They’re the ones responsible for making sure
that air transport works the same way all around the world,
but what they require for airport security is rather inconcrete.
They simply say,
“ measures need to be established to prevent weapons, explosives
and any other dangerous devices, articles or substances,
which may be used to commit an act of unlawful interference,
the carriage and bearing of which is not authorized,
from being introduced,
by any means whatsoever,
on board an aircraft engaged in civil aviation.
Essentially, all they require is that
before a passenger gets onboard a plane,
the airport assures they don’t have weapons.
While the ICAO does determine whether this requirement has been fulfilled,
it’s up to each country to decide how they achieve that.
In the US, airport security works like this.
After check-in, a passenger goes to have their documents checked,
puts their bags through an x-ray scanner,
and walks through either a metal detector or millimeter wave scanner.
There are potentially additional steps
such as a pat-down or explosives residue test for some,
but these three steps are how the process works for most.
It is though, important to note that,
if you so choose, you can skip the metal detector
or millimeter wave scanner step of the process
and receive a pat-down instead.
This is fully compliant with ICAO regulations
since it does effectively screen an individual for weapons.
In fact, an airport could hypothetically be compliant with ICAO regulations
only by conducting physical bag-searches
and pat-downs since this does screen for weapons
even if this would be slow, invasive, and unpopular.
Some small airports actually do this for bags,
they physically search them instead of passing them through an x-ray.
The words “security theater” are thrown around a lot
in regards to US airport security.
This term is used pejoratively
it means that the TSA’s function is to make airports look secure,
but here’s the thing—on paper,
the TSA has done its job.
There has not been a single death
on a flight leaving from a US airport
since 911 as a result of terrorism.
In fact, in the same time period,
there has not even been a single attempted terrorist
attack on a flight leaving from a US airport
all have been on flights originating from abroad.
So maybe the TSA is doing its function.
Maybe the mere threat of being caught has been enough to thwart terrorists
or maybe terrorists have moved on from attacking airplanes.
The US is certainly a prime target for terrorism,
but there are more controversial nations.
Israeli airport security is considered to be the best in the world.
Despite being situated in
one of the most politically contentious countries in the world,
no airplane leaving from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport
has ever been hijacked or bombed.
It’s been attempted,
but this airport’s security is simply nearly impenetrable.
What’s most fascinating is that
this airport is hardly using any super-advanced technology—
they use the exact same metal detectors
as the US and Europe,
but they’ve focused on the human factor.
Israel has come to realize that
its unfortunately easy to get weapons through airport security.
Plastic explosives, non-metallic knives,
and blunt weapons are just tough to detect
so rather than focusing on the weapons
that could be used for an attack,
they focus on the people who could use them.
At Ben Gurion airport,
security starts before passengers even get to the airport.
Cars pass through a security checkpoint
a mile away from the airport entrance
where guards inspect cars
and look for any suspicious looking individuals.
The minute passengers arrive at the airport,
they’re being watched already.
Highly trained plainclothes officers roam around
in the check-in area again
searching for individuals acting abnormally or nervous.
Then before passengers are even allowed to check-in,
there’s the interview.
Anyone who’s passed through Ben Gurion airport
knows how intense this interview is
but its likely the single greatest factor
leading to the safety of Israeli airports.
Passengers are first asked standard questions
like what their jobs are,
why they came to Israel,
how long they stayed for,
if they packed their own bags and all the while,
the security agent watches the passengers facefor reactions.
They’ll also probe deeper—
asking why the passenger has been to various countries
stamped in their passport.
They’ll then ask oddly specific questions—
which school they went to,
when they last moved,
what kind of car they have.
These are all to see if the passenger is being honest about who they are.
If the security officer senses hesitation
or finds a hole in their story,
they could deem the passenger a higher risk.
Once passengers have completed their interview,
a barcode is placed on the back of their passport
that starts with a number from one to six.
If it starts with a one,
the passenger is deemed a very low risk—
this is almost only given to Israeli citizens,
while if it starts with six,
the passenger is deemed a very high risk
and will be subjected to extremely thorough screening.
While a lot of the risk determination has to do with the interview,
profiling also plays into it.
According to the Israeli security system,
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passengers are deemed higher risk
if they are male, if they are traveling alone, if they are young,
and most of all,
if they are Arab.
Israel unapologetically uses racial profiling in their risk assessment
which has led to international condemnation.
Israel, meanwhile, argues that this technique is effective.
After all, the country has recently been at war
with many of its Arabian neighbors.
At the same time, though,
it’s almost impossible for an Arab traveller
to pass through Ben Gurion airport
without getting deemed a numbersix security risk.
Western non-Israeli individuals are also generally
considered to be a higher security risk
typically receiving a four or a five.
After the interview, passengers are finallyallowed to check-in.
Their checked bags are put through a standard x-ray
and then are placed in a pressure chamber.
The chamber’s pressure is lowered to the level of a pressurized aircraft,
about the equivalent of six to eight thousand feet of altitude
to set off any explosives designed to trigger
when a plane’s cabin pressure is lower at cruising altitude.
Meanwhile, the passenger passes through a standard x-ray or body scanner.
This physical screening process is exactly
the same as it would be in North America, Europe, or Asia—
they just walk through the scanners and grab their bags.
Those deemed a higher security risk—
above three or four—
likely would have their bags manually searched
and then the highest risk individuals—
five or sixes—
are often taken aside for another round of questioning and a pat-down.
The security doesn’t even stop
when passengers board the plane.
Like the US,
Israel has a system of air marshals—
armed security guards on planes—
but unlike the US, at least in the case of El Al,
Israel’s national airline,
there are air marshals on every single flight.
They sit among the passengers,
often near any that were identified at the airport as high risk,
and they have alert buttons that communicate with the pilots
in case of an attempted hijacking.
If the marshals press this button,
an alarm will go off in the cockpit
and the pilots will often send the plane into a dive
to knock the hijacker off their feet.
This technique has successfully preventedterror attacks in the past.
These air marshals secure the plane from the inside,
but another system protects the outside.
El Al’s planes are installed with thermal flares
that deploy when a radar detects an incoming missile.
Thermal guided missiles will then target the flares instead of the plane.
El Al and the other Israeli airlines also stay secure
by having security officers at their destination airports.
For departing passengers to Israel,
they repeat much of same security process as at Ben Gurion Airport—
包括面谈 扼要描述 评估每一乘客的危险等级
conducting interviews, profiling,and assessing the risk of each passenger.
At many foreign airports,
these agents also physically screen luggage
before handing it off to the regular airport security.
EI AI 尽管是世界上最具争议的
El Al, despite being the flag carrier of
one of the most controversial nations in the world,
had its last and only hijacking in 1968
and even this incident resulted in zero deaths.
It and the Ben Gurion airport are testaments to the fact
that truly secure security is theoretically possible,
but is it possible worldwide?
Here’s the thing about Tel Aviv’s airport—
its not that big.
20 million passengers pass through it each year
making it only as busy as San Diego or Berlin airport.
These are not small airports,
but they’re not on the same scale as the world’s largest
like JFK, Heathrow, or Dubai.
It’s tough to determine
if a system like what Israel has implemented
could scale up to be used universally.
What’s sure is that certain elements of the Israeli system would not work—
most countries could not justify a system
that relies so heavily on racial profiling.
In many countries and US states,
practices such as this are simply illegal,
airports and countries around the world
are watching Israeli security methods closely.
The US has already implemented a system of security interviews
for many international flights to the US
however these are generally conducted by less trained contract workers.
Brussels airport, after its terrorist bombing in 2016,
now positions officers trained in behavioral detection at its entrances.
Plenty of other airports have sent delegates to Ben Gurion airport
to evaluate their security techniques as well
and have quietly made changes to closer emulate Israel.
But few ever stop to question
if we even want an increase in airport security.
If it comes at the expense of time, maybewe don’t.
the US has not had a successful terror attack on an airplane since 911.
Worldwide, airplane hijackings are now almost nonexistent,
but security has a consequence.
In the most direct way,
tickets for every single flight leaving from a US airport
include a $5.60 fee that goes towards paying for security.
This may not be much in the scope of a multi-hundred dollar flight to Europe or Asia,
but if the US ever wants to get to the point where Europe is
of having $ 10 or $ 20 budget airline tickets
between domestic destinations, this fee has to go.
A study found that the TSA’s average cost per life saved—
how much money it spends to stop one human death—
is $667 million.
You can certainly say that you can’t put a price on a human life,
but the security that saves these lives costs lives.
The plane is empirically the safest way to travel—
its hundreds or thousands of times safer than driving—
so stopping people from flying is in and of itself deadly.
Economists found that the increase in airport security
in the US post 911 can account for
6% of the decline in air travel.
Given that, in 2002,
more than 500 people died because,
as a result of longer security times and more extensive searches,
they chose to drive over fly and were involved in a fatal accident.
Flying being easy helps everyone—
it lets people travel faster
and it helps airlines as businesses,
just as long as it doesn’t result in a decrease in safety.
In Israel, passengers arrive three hours before their flights
just to clear security
which means plane travel is inefficient
while in some places in Europe,
airports encourage travelers to arrive a mere hour before their flight.
The goal is to keep security fast, efficient,but also secure.
No country or airport has the perfect system
but to achieve this,
one likely needs to combine elements of the strictest security systems
with those of the fastest.
Israel can get away with invasive, unethical,
yet effective security measures
because they need to.
They are a country seemingly constantly at war.
Many other areas of the world just aren’ t big targets for terrorists.
It’s hard to know whether or not security measuresare effective.
There’s no control group of developed countries
that don’t have airport security to compare to.
The most effective security systems stop attacks
by the mere threat of consequences
rather than through physical screening
so maybe airport security works.
在美国 欧洲 亚洲和其它发达
In the US and Europe and Asia and all the other developed,
safe areas of the world,
one must therefore ask whether airport security is actually saving lives
or ending them.
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