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Op-Ed: Israel Doesn’t Use Scanners

The following Op-Ed by Rafi Sela, an Israeli airport security consultant, was printed in todays NY Times:

The problem with the Transportation Security Administration is that it is both the regulator and the operator of airport security. In other words, it is required to regulate itself, which cannot work.

The decision to use body scanners is one result of this flawed approach. The fact is, such scanners do not provide more protection and they are invasive.

Israel has a completely different security system. The Israeli regulator (Israel Security Agency) analyzes the threats and vulnerabilities. It then provides guidance to the airports and border crossings on how best to utilize technologies. Therefore Israel is not scanning for liquids, and neither does it have to use body scanners or screen personnel and crew.

American airport security needs a similar strategy. A national security advisory board made of security experts (not only police, F.B.I. and military generals) should define the standards and systems based on an ongoing threat analysis, vulnerability studies and security planning. The majority of the passengers, cargo, workers and crew pose no threat at all, and banned items like water, perfume, toothpaste, nail files and other do not pose any problems if carried by regular passengers.

The current security system in which everyone is a suspect is bound to be ineffective and burdensome. No system can perform efficiently when one is looking for a needle in a haystack by checking each straw individually.

Rafi Sela, president of AR Challenges, is an international transportation security consultant based in Israel.

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(Source: NY Times)

12 Responses

  1. Understand that the Israelis do NOT use RACIAL profiling. They use PREDICTIVE (otherwise called behavioral) profiling.

    There is a very big difference between the two.

    PREDICTIVE profiling is what the Israelis used successfully to identify and Richard Ried (the shoe bomber) as a threat when he tried to board an El Al flight. They let him board, and let him know they knew what he was up to by putting him in a middle seat, with two burly men with bulges under their jackets. In his captured noted, Ried wrote that El Al was too hard, and that he was going after an American carrier.

  2. In theory he is correct, but there are huge barriers to implementing this in the US. Remember that El Al only has about three dozen aircraft, and Israel has but two international airports (one quite small). Even Ben Gurion Airport only has half the passengers of La Guardia Airport, the smallest of the three New York airports. It could take years — maybe decades — for the US to ramp up its security capacity, and the security officers who do the sophisticated profiling would have to get paid a lot more than the current TSA screeners. This isn’t likely to happen given that the Republicans have proposed to cut funding for every government agency except DoD. Another problem is that the archtecture of most US airports is unsuitable to the kind of security screening done at Ben Gurion — and there isn’t the money to rebuild almost every terminal in America.

    But those are surmountable problems. There is one other problem that isn’t surmountable: The increased length of time for screening will destroy the market for short distance air travel. That would not be a problem if we had other reasonable intercity transit options, but other than Amtrak in the northeast corridor, those options don’t exist (and the Republicans are already killing off high speed rail proposals).

  3. to Charliehall, one thing i got from your conversation loud and clear is that your not pro-republicans. I guess you feel obama will save the world? it is incredible how blind people are as to how much damage this man has done to the country in a few short years!

  4. The reason Israel doesnt use scanners is because DERECH HA’TEVA they are doing REAL work to STOP the terrorists. They are profiling PEOPLE and not THINGS! All the US has to do is stop this PC trash and start protecting us. Its not 3 year old kids or 90 year old nuns that are the terrorists. Its also not the 25 year old from Central Kansas. More often than not its a specific person from a specific area of the world. We cannot continue to the bow at the altar of politically correctness and expect to be safe.

    The other thing is that in EY the security people actually engage you in a conversation. When I went to EY, they asked me specific questions, including which shul I davened in! Granted, I dont think the agent here in NY had a clue what a shul was but the point was they spoke to you. The TSA doesnt talk to you only to bark out orders about Ga’fabid having more than 3oz of shampoo in a bottle. You give them your license and they pull out this stupid infrared light to see if the watermark is real but they dont say anything to you in the meantime. BTW, the 9/11 terrorists yemach sh’mom all had legal ID.


  5. 2 Charlie,

    The Republicans are the ones who actually care about national security. Its you and your fellow socialist liberal democrats who are busy bowing to the dictators and apologizing for the greatness of this country.

    Hate to break it to you but RR travel here in the USA doesnt work. Amtrak looses TONS of money every year. We dont travel by rail. If you have a choice of going 2800 miles in 5 hours or in 3 days what would you do especially when so far the 5 hour way is more economical. If you have time to sit on a train for days on end, thats good for you but most of us have a life we need to live.

    One more thing, if we took trains, you think OBL yemach sh’mo wouldnt target the trains.

  6. BS”D

    In 1995, ElAl security rightfully told me that I had to put the dull Swiss Army knife that I used to clean my smoking pipes into check in luggage. I did not even think of it as a knife and it never would have occured to me to consider it dangerous. I am also very obviously ‘haredi’ and clearly no threat to anyone.

    Imagine if the carriers involved would have told the 9-11 hijackers to check in their box cutters?

  7. Charliehall,

    Why does everything have to be out blaming the republicans according to you??? you make a valid point but that’s it. Besides you never mention that the Dems have had control of both houses for the past 4 years yet didn’t do anything in this area ………..besides for oh yeah…….cut spending in security.

  8. Poor CharlieHall lives in the Neighborhood of Make Believe. He fails to realize that it is HIS socialist liberal democrat buddies who are completely weak on national security. The proof is that his buddies have stripped the military over the last number
    of democrat administrations. Carter, Clinton, & now Obama have taken our military to low levels.

    It is his buddy Obama that did nothing when there was a revolt in Iran after their election. Obama has done nothing about that missle of California last month (& NO it was NOT a plane!!). Obama did nothing & will do nothing about North Korea & their recent attacks on South Korea. Obama will do nothing if China decides to go into Tiawan.

    The democrats will do anything to treat terrorists with kid gloves but they will treat their own citizens worse than the mass murderer terrorists & with rubber gloves.

    It is people like CharlieHall & his fellow neighbors of The Neighborhood Of Make Believe that are destroying our country.

  9. By the time a passenger has entered the terminal at Ben Gurion airport, he/she has been through a few layers of security: cars are stopped and each individual is assessed by trained army personnel. License plates are reviewed. And then there are those procedures that the passenger doesn’t even know about. By the time someone gets into the airport, they have been through 6 layers or security checks and the powers that be already have a good idea who needs to be looked at more carefully, even before the conversation with security personnel.

  10. I’m Republican and I agree with Charlie Hall. Behavioral profiling and other techniques will not work in a country as big as the US as the sole means of airport security, it would cause huge delays that would cascade across the entire system. I’m not saying they have no place in US security, but they cannot be the primary means of security here. In addition even if the scanning systems used now are not 100% effective it is hard to know precisely what they miss so they still serve as an effective terrorism deterrent.

    The GOP traditionally supports infrastructure initiatives. They have been opposing some because the spending is not paid for by corresponding spending cuts or tax hikes and the GOP is determined to cut the deficit. Besides any improvements to US high speed rail will likely take decades even if the funds were approved.

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