The White House is set to announce new security measures today that are designed to replace the ad-hoc measures put in place after last year’s Christmas-eve attack on a Northwest flight into Detroit.The measures specifically heightened the awareness among security pros of travellers coming into the US from 14 Muslim countries, a shockingly un-PC move that received shockingly little blowback in the press as far as we can recall (that the general public didn’t seem to mind isn’t itself all that shocking).
Anyway, that won’t stand.
Now rather than a hard list of 14 countries, airport security will be designed to look for patterns.
The new security protocols will be built around present-day threat situations, officials said, where fragments of intelligence from various threat streams are considered. So, for example, if terrorist groups are recruiting college-age men who have spent time in Asia and have been to the Middle East, that type of travel pattern would raise a flag to officials at international airports.
“It is much more surgically targeting those individuals we are concerned about and have intelligence for,” the administration official said, speaking to a small group of reporters at a White House briefing on Thursday afternoon. The official added: “This is not a system that can be called profiling in the traditional sense. It is intelligence-based.”
If they don’t want to call it “profiling in the traditional sense” that’s fine. But that’s basically what’s going to happen — it’s just profiling with the backing of maths, reason, and computers, or as they put it “intelligence,” for as long as the predominant foreign security threats are coming from The Middle East (etc.) the intelligence-based system should return the same results.
Of course… human subjectiveness can’t help but creep in, whether it’s the design of the system, or how its signals are responded to.
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