Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Airport Roving Carts: Chemical Swabs Check Passengers for Explosives

Roving carts will roll through airports, checking for explosives by randomly taking chemical swabs from passengers and their carry-on luggage.

Five airports began using the carts after the Christmas Day underpants bomber misfired.

Screeners will push carts with bomb-detection machines around airport gates and checkpoint lines to randomly check passengers' hands and carry-on bags for explosive residue.
There is another security plan in the works. Some 10,000 Transportation Security Administration (TSA) employees will begin receiving security briefs including "secret intelligence" pertaining to "terrorist attacks on planes." Approximately 750 people have been cleared for the program, but it will take two years to get the full 10,000 workers cleared.
The agency, viewed by some as throngs of workers pawing through luggage at checkpoints, hopes to empower its higher-level workers as part of an effort to professionalize airport security. 
The 10,000 people in line to get classified information are managers, supervisors and "behavior detection officers" who roam airports looking for suspicious people. They represent about 20% of the TSA's airport workforce and exclude screeners who scan passengers and bags.
The information could include copies of terrorist training videos or tips vaguely describing a terrorism suspect, experts said. "Some classified information seems innocuous but is classified because it was derived from an intercepted phone conversation," said Steven Aftergood, an intelligence-policy specialist for the Federation of American Scientists.
Security clearances will for the TSA employees in this program will rank above "Confidential" but below "Top Secret." The ACLU is fighting the body imaging scanners, but has sanctioned the chemical swabs as "less invasive."

This sounds like a good idea to me, although our Vice President, Joe Biden does not believe we will have another large-scale terrorist attack in the U.S. - that prediction as current as February 11, 2010! He will not acknowledge how close we came on Christmas Day to another airliner going down, and taking out surrounding areas at the same time - perhaps even the Detroit airport.

A question about those roving carts. Once you have been "swabbed," do you get a receipt that you have already been cleared? The cart stops you, and checks you...and then what? Does it start all over again at the gate, or are these carts inside gates checking passengers who have already gone through a security check?

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton