Is subjecting "foreign" passengers to extra screening a valid air security tool?


  1. Yes, I realize citizenship is not the magic talisman of terrorism prognostication
  2. I neither advocate this, nor do I not advocate this. Rather just looking for discussion.
  3. Yes, I understand that security screenings won’t result in 100% safety.
    Is it “acceptable” from a justness/fairness/liberty standpoint to mandate that non-citizens boarding trans-oceanic flights bound for the US be subjected to exhaustive (far moreso than normal) security screening?

Would it be effective at combating aviation terrorism?

Would it be similarly just/fair and effective if this extra screening was mandated for citizens of certain nations and not others?

Keep in mind that we don’t control the security measures of airports outside the US. I’m not sure that enough countries would be willing to set up special procedures of us.

It probably makes more sense to look at the visa system, since that is something we do control.

You can assume that this isn’t a problem.

And we do in many ways dictate security measures outside of the US for flights destined to the US.

It’s an effective way of reducing tourism.

Why limit it to foreigners?

I believe that most terrorists are nationals of the country they live in, though I’m not certain on that point. So while you’re concentrating on all the people with Saudi passports, you’re ignoring the much more dangerous guys with American passports.

Or if you concentrate on race, there’s the worry that while you’re concentrating on the guys in turbans, that all the ultra-nationalists, PETA, and other sorts of terrorists will be essentially given a free pass. You’re better to have a clear and consistent method of finding dangerous materials and people than to have a single-minded one.

But in the end it’s the results that count. The problem being that we’re talking about something that is of such minimum occurrence that creating statistically meaningful test runs would be nearly impossible.

Ultimately, there was decades of time where terrorism wasn’t a worry. Even now I’m not sure that it really is, probably because the Atlantic ocean and minimal social security plans for non-hardworking foreigners make it hard for potential terrorists to get here, hunker down, and plot. Crime flows like water, down the path of least resistance. That path leads to Europe not to the US. 9/11 was most likely a statistical anomaly caused by one man who actually had a vision, rather than simply being happy to be the powerful head of a cult. That no further events have occurred indicates that that man has been captured or killed. Minus him, it’s unlikely that further significant attacks will occur.

Compare the IRA previous to and after Michael Collins. Only when he was there coming up with strategy and actually telling his men to go out and accomplish things were things getting getting accomplished. Randomly blowing up things on a whim occasionally isn’t forging a war, it’s satisfying your ego and you just don’t have to go out of your way to do that. Hitting the US requires going out of your way. If you get rid of the guy who actually views it as a war, you’re free for the rest of time. If it was just an act on a whim, then everything will return to how it was before because it was a statistically unlikely act.

That isn’t to say that you want to ignore the threat, since if you dangle your ass out, the other guy is going to be forced by the expectations of his underlings to go out and kick it. But the amount of extra effort you expend only needs to be enough to give him an excuse to be lazy.

Yet, the current group of people trying to blow up planes don’t have American passports.

Has PETA attempted to blow up a plane? We’re not talking about fighting terrorism in general here, but protecting airplanes and the people on them. That should be the focus of airline security. Let other agencies work on Ultra-nationalists. If you concentrate on ensuring that the 70 year old Jewish lady is bomb free rather than the younger dark skinned Muslim fellow all you are doing is trying to be politically correct rather than rational. It doesn’t mean you don’t search both, but if you’re going to spend the time to go the extra step to strip search one over the other, it doesn’t make sense to waste much time on the old lady.

And if you concentrate on brown men, you will underline that the real motive is bigotry and make it easier to engage in terrorism since they’ll know who not to send. You will create thousands of angry men where there were none before and gain little if anything. You will act as an enabler for all the bigots out there who will take it as a licence to indulge themselves. All because a minuscule percentage of people with a particular skin tone are dangerous.

Let me guess; YOU don’t happen to have that skin tone.

TSA has not said that only foreigners planning to come to the US are subject to extra screening. In fact, it appears that every international passenger coming to the US will be subject to extra screening.

I’ll just point out that a pale white guy from Country X, where you’re screening citizens of that Country, is going to get stopped. They can only send people of Citizenship A to be put through less screening - it’s got nothing to do with color.

Irrelevant, since that’s not what Uzi was saying.

I am expanding the scope of your post.

I am well aware of the strategic problems in selective enforcement based on “lists” or whatnot - smart people will test-run guinea pigs through to see what effects these screening lists have, and then when nothing happens to their guinea, they can presume that he’s “safe to travel” and thus use him as an effective agent. You don’t have this problem as much with a wholesale policy where non-US citizens as subjected to exhaustive screening, insofar as the smart-people can’t find willing US citizens.

So, you are saying that the 70 year old lady is as likely to blow the plane up as anyone else? That’s what you are saying correct? Really?

PS. I also haven’t claimed to be a 70 year old lady.

If we are concentrating on brown men, probably more likely. Just find some old lady sympathetic with the cause; we’ve certainly worked hard to create people with dead friends and relatives to hate us over.

I don’t think “sympathetic to your cause” is the threshhold when you’re talking about suicide terrorism.

Just sayin it may take a bit more than that for granny to strap on ketchup packages of semtex

Like, say killing most of her family. We’ve created legions of people who have perfectly rational reasons to murderously hate us, little reason to want to live also thanks to us, and that’s before religion even gets involved.

Sure it would make more sense to screen every person holding a foreign passport before they fly into the US. We don’t have that power, the country they are leaving from does.

Once your talking about people in American airports where we get to make the decisions I just don’t think it’s worthwhile to treat foreign passports differently on flights leaving the country. If they are a terrorist. They have already been in the country. They already had opportunity to commit a terrorist act involving an airline on their way into the country. They have had opportunity to commit an act in the country. I guess they sure fooled us by choosing to do so on the way out.

I’m pretty sure the FAA/government agency X can set security and other regulatory standards that flights departing foreign nations bound for a US airport must adhere to.

For example, you can’t get on a US-bound plane without showing airline personnel either a visa or a visa-exempt passport. sure, this is part fine to the carrier who doesn’t adhere, but i’m not sure it’s a fine-only requirement/regulation.

Take the extreme opposite. Do you think if country Z allowed people to board (commercial) aircraft without security screening, the FAA/Government would allow that plane to enter US airspace just because they filed a flight plan?

They don’t? Really? Queer I seem to recall some arrests in the US of A of citizens with charming bombing plans.

Rather certain it is well within the realm of the doable for the al Qaeda types to brainwash a convert or the like who happens to have an American passport. Has happened elsewhere.

Not that I doubt you, but who?