Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Dear TSA,


You’re incompetent.

We don’t trust you.

Please stop wasting our time.

Love, El Al Israel Airlines.

No, really. Ok. Maybe the quote isn’t precisely their words, but that’s the message.

See “El Al wants to do its own bag screening at Newark airport.”

(Via Gary Leff.)

2 comments on "Dear TSA,"

  • jose says:

    anyone who has ever flown to europe, SE asia, or elsewhere where people are actually experienced at dealing with hijackings and terrorists can spot the differences between the TSA’s joke of a program for the past few years and the pros.
    maybe i should route all of my travel via el al …

  • There is no denying that El Al security is incredibly effective. Like many comparisons to Israel, the caveat is to wonder how things scale to a country of 350 million.
    El Al-style security may also raise to red flags from these parts:

    The difference between the Israeli and the American systems, he explains, is that the Israelis are looking for the terror suspect, while the Americans are looking for weapons.
    At Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport, passengers – in particular non-Israelis – are interrogated at length by highly-trained screeners while plain-clothes security officials watch for suspicious behaviour.
    Outside Israel, travellers experience thorough searches of their luggage, including not just repeated X-rays but also swabs to test for explosives and lengthy questioning.
    But some passengers have reported that these measures are discriminatory and sometimes unpleasant, with Palestinians and their friends subjected to much stricter procedures, including body searches.
    El Al uses rigorous computerised passenger profiling systems, which apparently looks for anomalies in a traveller’s itinerary, finances and personal profile.

    Questions: Is “looking for the terrorist” the best strategy? Interviews can be effective IF there are enough trained agents. And with the millions of travelers/day, can it be done efficiently? Would strong ethnic profiling even work, ethical concerns notwithstanding? And finally, it looks like TSA was trying something like this with its initial forays into data collection–should they try it again?
    Of course, the primary focus should be on screening bags, which is abominable under TSA and I would imagine is better under El Al, even with scaling issues.

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