Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Israeli airline security - good for the Americans?

Megan McArdle asks whether American airports should take up Israeli-style security screening, and notes:

Maybe we could do it smarter, like the Israelis do. But the Israelis also armor the holds of their airliners, making it very difficult to blow them up--and impossible to fly at a profit.

I didn't know they armoured the holds. Yet another reason to fly El Al...

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Goldberg has an interesting interview with security expert Bruce Scheiener on American airline security, which is worth reading in full. He opens with the same question McArdle addresses:

Jeffrey Goldberg: Do you think that we are moving toward the Israelification of American airport security?

Bruce Schneier: I don't think it's possible. The Israelis rely on a system of individual attention -- interviews, background checks, and so on -- that simply can't be replicated on the scale required for America. If anything, we're moving in the opposite direction: layers of annoying, time consuming, ineffectual, static -- but automatic and scalable -- security systems. Although it seems that we're finally hitting the limit as to what the American business travel will put up with, and no security measure will survive wholesale rejection by the airlines' most profitable customers.

Seems to me that it would be possible if the Americans willed it. Isn't the main obstacle, which Scheiener, doesn't address, that the Israelis racially profile - and the American (and European) public are still not ready to do that?

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