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American Opinion - On airline passenger screening policy:

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An excerpt from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States:

By The Associated Press

On airline passenger screening policy:

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The attempted bombing of a Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day was a catastrophe that was only narrowly averted. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian, allegedly boarded the Detroit-bound plane from Amsterdam with a bomb hidden in his pants. But when he reportedly tried to set it off, it failed to detonate.

In the scary aftermath, the Department of Homeland Security imposed broad new security rules requiring extra screening of incoming travelers from 14 countries, most of them largely Muslim, including Pakistan, Nigeria, Libya and Saudi Arabia. This was a frantic attempt to head off another possible attack.

Three months later, the administration has replaced the emergency plan with a more targeted approach. Recently, DHS announced that it will implement new measures on all international flights coming to the United States.

Instead of scrutinizing everyone from certain countries, security personnel will focus on travelers who match intelligence information about potential threats. Even if authorities lack the name of an alleged plotter, they hope to be able to catch him through information such as physical features, age or past travels. By including all countries, DHS intends to prevent extremist groups from circumventing detection by avoiding those 14 nations. ...

Relying more on intelligence is a sound idea. But it requires sound use of information as well as the good investigative work needed to supply it. In the Christmas Day episode, it was not the policy that fell short so much as the people charged with carrying it out.

This looks like a better system. To improve our safety, though, it will need better execution.

-- Chicago Tribune

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