The Transportation Security Administration needed an exemption from new Obama administration rules restricting racial profiling by the government so the TSA could target travelers for extra scrutiny based on their nationality and gender, the head of the agency said Tuesday.
TSA more closely scrutinizes travelers from Syria, Yemen and other nations that are home to individuals and groups that may be plotting to sneak a bomb on board an airliner, John Pistole, the agency’s administrator, said in an interview.
Last week, the Justice Department issued guidelines forbidding federal law enforcement agencies from profiling on the basis of religion, national origin and other characteristics. Profiling based on race was already prohibited.
This Christmas is the 5th anniversary of the failed “underwear bomber” plot that al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula cooked up to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner. However, Pistole said he doesn’t see any reason for extra caution.
Terrorists are more interested in “windows of opportunity” and not especially focused on anniversaries, he said.