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 Increased security at British airports
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tyffaneesue
Gabber Extraordinaire

572 Posts

Posted - 08/15/2006 :  8:29:52 PM  Show Profile Send tyffaneesue a Private Message
Catherine, do you suppose that stereotypical profiling was more acceptable in 1995? There have been a few lawsuits since then that may have made it very un-PC to single out swarthy, shifty-eyed men.

By the way, the only time in recent years that I've been subjected to a thorough search was a trip shortly after my wrist was broken. Those screeners seemed sure that my cast was camouflaging something deadly; they dusted it for gunpowder and searched my bags. But who needs gunpowder? If I'd been so inclined, I could have knocked someone out with a well-placed swing of my cast-encased wrist.
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CatherineM
Permanent Resident

USA
3363 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  02:32:38 AM  Show Profile  Visit CatherineM's Homepage Send CatherineM a Private Message
Mr. Bean wasn't particularly "swarthy," and was clearly "American looking," but he was alone and didn't make eye contact, and I'm sure that's what triggered the questioning. I don't really think these searches are the answer and I don't think we should be focusing on this issue, I was just pointing out that I'd seen someone get "profiled" long before 911.

As long as it's stupidly easy to put a bomb in the cargo of a plane, passenger screening is a joke.


Catherine
http://www.yorkiedog.blogspot.com
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Bethany
Permanent Resident

USA
1546 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  08:22:42 AM  Show Profile Send Bethany a Private Message
I'm sure they still do profiling. When I remarked to some friends about how many people who obviously aren't terrorists (80 year old women traveling with their grandchildren, that sort of thing) my friend suggested that they pull aside people who look like terrorists, and then they ALSO pull aside people who clearly DON'T look like terrorists to make it LOOK like they're doing it at random. I think he may have had a point.

Amusing story: shortly after September 11, our local movie theatre started searching bags for a while. (Because everyone knows your local Loew's 18 is a major terrorist target.) I never got searched. My then-boyfriend, who was of Sicilian descent and was dark-haired, somewhat swarthy, and rather scruffy-looking, would regularly get searched multiple times in a visit. (Once coming into the theatre area, once after following me as I backtracked to the drinking fountain, once by accident on the way out...)

Of course, none of the searches were thorough enough to actually have found anything, anyway, but that's another issue altogether.
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yarnlover
Permanent Resident

1753 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  12:46:08 PM  Show Profile Send yarnlover a Private Message
Years ago a friend of mine's father worked as a customs agent at a U.S.- Canada border crossing. According to my friend, his dad told him that they have a "not-really-random," plan to search those who cross the border. He, of course, wouldn't tell me any details, but one time I was crossing with some friends and we were pulled out of line for a search. They practically took the car apart, probably looking for drugs, but we never knew what triggered the search, as none of were acting wierd or dressed wierd. They kept us for about half hour, then let us proceed.

Today I heard an interview with someone involved in security and he told about a test run at Dulles airport with some particular TSA agents who'd been trained to screen by observation. He also would not give any details, but only some general things that might cause a closer look at a passenger, one of which was not making eye contact. He said this is a variation of screening used by El Al in Israel. In the test they did not find any terrorists, but everyone that they pulled aside for more scrutiny was found to be doing something illegal. Mostly illegal immigrants, but also found a couple of smugglers and one man was trying to get his kid out of the country, and away from American jurisdiction.

It didn't sound too promising that these techniques will be quickly made part of the security at our airports though. Seems like it should be part of the entire program.
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babyduck
Chatty Knitter

USA
126 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  1:14:26 PM  Show Profile  Visit babyduck's Homepage Send babyduck a Private Message
I kind of skimmed over this thread and I can say from first hand experience - this is a truly scary situation. I was in the UK when we got the news and then had to fly home 3 days later. It's a completely terifying feeling to think that your actions are being targeted. I couldn't take anything on - not a knitting magazine, not a knitting book and certainly not my knitting needles. 8 hours of not knitting was nearly enough to make me loose my mind - especially considering you have all that time to think of all the bad things that could happen any second. Not fun - not fun at all.

I agree with one thought that seems to be repeated - there's absolutely no way they can make it 100% safe from these things.

Happy travels to those who have to fly. For me - I'm taking a travel hiatus.
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mokey
Permanent Resident

15375 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  2:03:56 PM  Show Profile Send mokey a Private Message
I have always wanted everyone's checked baggage to be searched exactly the way the carry on is checked - right in front of you. Sure it will take time but I think it is a small price to pay. The checked baggage would be searched right in front of you, inspection tape wrapped round it and you solve both the safety and the theft problem.

http://www.femiknits.blog-city.com/knitting_for_canadian_troops.htm
http://greenfishoutofwater.blogspot.com
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gwtreece
Permanent Resident

USA
7254 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  2:16:57 PM  Show Profile  Send gwtreece a Yahoo! Message Send gwtreece a Private Message
Mokey, It would be nice.

Wanda
My Blog
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abt1950
Permanent Resident

3019 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  4:18:27 PM  Show Profile Send abt1950 a Private Message
I like that idea. It would eliminate a lot of stuff. But even that's not perfect.

DH used to do a lot of international traveling for business. One time he was coming back from Switzerland. Security screener is training a new hire & picks DH as a demonstration of how a carry-on back should be searched. So he rummages around in the dirty laundry and miscellaneous stuff, showing the new guy what to look for. Then he passes DH on. DH decides to be helpful and points out the large bars of Swiss chocolate lining the entire bottom of the carry-on that the screener had missed. Could have just as easily been a false bottom as a layer of chocolate. The screener wouldn't have picked it up.

Anne

Knit long and prosper
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Bethany
Permanent Resident

USA
1546 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  4:31:00 PM  Show Profile Send Bethany a Private Message
When I flew from Switzerland a few years back they did just that: when they decided to search checked luggage they just pulled you aside when you went to check in they pulled you aside and did the search right there while you watched.

When I told the woman doing the search that in the US you're not present when they search your checked bags she was astonished.

Of course, that sort of thing is easier to do in Europe, where (in my epxerience) they generally have a seperate check-in counter for each flight, so the lines are much shorter and check-in much faster.
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ceecee
Permanent Resident

1896 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2006 :  5:28:05 PM  Show Profile Send ceecee a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by mokey

I have always wanted everyone's checked baggage to be searched exactly the way the carry on is checked - right in front of you. Sure it will take time but I think it is a small price to pay. The checked baggage would be searched right in front of you, inspection tape wrapped round it and you solve both the safety and the theft problem.



Having just returned from abroad, I found that this is done in foreign airports, but not in the U.S. (it's been the case elsewhere for many years, perhaps not to this degree of thoroughness). After the alert, both my hand baggage and checked luggage were x-rayed AND hand-checked AND I was body-searched, as were all the other passengers on the U.S-bound flight. Imagine my surprise upon returning to the U.S. where my hand baggage was x-rayed but not searched when I went to catch my connecting domestic flight and the security staff did not seem especially vigilant or alert.

Even though flying may be safer because of all these measures, no-one should think cancelling or changing non-essential flight plans wussy, especially to and from Europe. You have to be comfortable with the risks, which can be minimized but not eliminated, especially if you have dependents.
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