Is the TSA Moving Toward an Israeli Security Model?

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Josh Gerstein reports that TSA chief John Pistole is planning to increase the level of passenger-profiling, in the Israeli style:

Pistole declined to elaborate on the enhanced behavior detection program but said it would "probably" be announced in August. During an on-stage interview with CNN's Jeanne Meserve, Pistole acknowledged that the Israeli techniques have been carefully examined.

"There's a lot--under that Israeli model--a lot that is done that is obviously very effective," he said. However, critics have said the Israeli program is too time consuming to use consistently at U.S. airports and may involve a degree of religious and racial profiling that would draw controversy in the U.S.

Pistole also said TSA is planning to test out some new methods for screening children in the wake of highly-publicized videos of children screaming as they were patted down at airport checkpoints. The TSA chief said adults have used children as suicide bombers before in other contexts and could do so through an airport, but there may still be better ways to screen kids.

I tend to think that American airline passengers will find objectionable the sort of questioning travelers to and from Israel experience. For whatever reason, most Americans don't seem to mind the stick-em-up backscatter machine. But questions about who they are, where they're going, why they're going, who they know where they're going -- these sorts of questions, I predict, would cause widespread resentment. As well as huge back-ups at overtaxed security checkpoints.

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Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. He is the author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. He was previouslly a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

Goldberg's book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. He received the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism and the 2005 Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

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