Video: Former El Al official explains … common sense

posted at 2:20 pm on December 29, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Fox News interviewed Isaac Yeffet, the former head of El Al airlines, explains why Umar Abdulmutallab would never have made it onto one of El Al’s flights. The first reason is the most obvious — when someone’s father rats them out as a potential terrorist, El Al tends to take that more seriously than the American State Department did. But there’s more to the El Al approach than just taking threat information seriously:


Yeffet says body scans are more provocative than effective, which is an interesting argument. The Israelis have a better method of screening passengers anyway, which is to send agents into the terminal to check out all of of the people looking to board flights. I wrote about this more than three years ago, and the US even tried a pilot program in 2006 based on the Israeli method. Some question (as did one of the Fox anchors here) whether that can be applied in the much larger airports and markets in the US. But that’s a question of scale, not of possibility, and it would just take a commitment to training enough agents to find key indicators of problems rather than statistical sampling as a means of screening passengers. Yeffet himself says that the US could use that same system, if we are willing to discard our political correctness and use the right kind of expertise on the problem.

Obviously, we need to improve our performance if an Umar Abdulmutallab can get onto a flight bound for the US. However, we need to do more to copy the success of El Al, and stop trying statistical sampling as a security measure.

Along those same lines, Tunku Varadarajan wonders when we will stop punishing all travelers for the terrorism of the few:

Of course, there has been a homeland reaction. The Transportation Security Administration went predictably into Pavlovian overdrive, announcing a series of new security measures that would take immediate effect. This is the other, less reassuring, side of the episodic nature of the terrorist threats against us. We seem always to react, never to anticipate—and in this form of hasty reaction, with its flavor of humiliation, and of having been outwitted by a wearer of dangerous underwear (or shoes), there lurk always the seeds of over-reaction. No one can move from his seat for an hour before landing. No electronics. No coats on laps.

The broader point is that we need, constantly, to recalibrate our bandwidth of stoicism. We are at war with al Qaeda; that organization is doing its best to kill us. Our need is, of course, to make it as near to impossible for it to do that. But our reaction to each new threat must not be to grant al Qaeda small, but important, victories, in the form of an imposition by the TSA of inconveniences on travelers that have not been thought through, inconveniences that are, themselves, a form of theater—the extempore theater of homeland security.

Here are two modest proposals. First let’s have a TSA head, for Pete’s sake: a year after President Obama got to the White House, he has yet to appoint an administrator to the outfit that’s paid to weed out the dangerous fliers. And second: instead of denying my 10-year-old boy the right to take a pee when his destination is a whole hour away, why can’t we be radically more careful about those we let on board our planes? Abdulmutallab’s name was not on the terrorist “no-fly” list, which has fewer than 4,000 names in total. It was, however, on a larger database of some 550,000 individuals, called TIDE (Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment)—and it was inserted there, it seems, only last month.

Why is anyone on this list allowed to board a plane to the United States? Why not convert TIDE into a “no-fly” list? Let anyone on that list who believes his name is there erroneously, or undeservedly, appeal—through legal channels—for removal. If he has a case, it will surely be heard, and yield a just, airborne outcome.

This echoes Yeffet’s point. There is no “right” for people abroad to board an airplane and enter the US. Derogatory information such as that supplied by Abdulmutallab’s father should have resulted in the suspension of the visa immediately. How can we expect fliers to undergo the humiliations of the TSA’s new procedures when the State Department doesn’t take that kind of information seriously?


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Comment pages: 1 2

The reality is that the El AL system is not compatible with our culture. The first muslim, or other non-white that was denied boarding would sue for discrimination and win. In order to implement the El Al system, you would have to first dismantle the tort system, the PC system, and western progressive governance.

He says that the full body scans are not acceptable to the muslim culture. Well, his solution is not acceptable to American culture. So there is no solution to this problem that is politically viable. This is why the islam has already successfully destroyed the civil air transport system once the first body bomb goes off.

keep the change on December 29, 2009 at 6:55 PM

In order to implement the El Al system, you would have to first dismantle the tort system, the PC system, and western progressive governance.

I’m cool with that. Actually, just tossing out PC and putting and end to frivolous lawsuits claiming “discrimination” would do wonders. Like the man says, no one has a right to fly on an airplane or come to the U.S.

He says that the full body scans are not acceptable to the muslim culture. Well, his solution is not acceptable to American culture. So there is no solution to this problem that is politically viable. This is why the islam has already successfully destroyed the civil air transport system once the first body bomb goes off.

Frankly, I don’t give a DAMN what the Muslims like, and I am sure there are far more Americans that would accept profiling than you would like to think. As someone that flies roundtrip between the U.S. and India three times a year, I’ll tell you right now, the Muslims will put up with whatever they are forced to put up with.

Indian security is no nonsense, and the dudes standing around with sub-machine pistols make that very clear. They (Muslims)get away with that we’re being discriminated against nonsense here, because we (some of us) are ate up with the PC dumbass idiocy. Profile them, search them and tell them they want to fly, they will do what they are told. And keep their mouth shut at the same time.

mrpeabody on December 29, 2009 at 8:04 PM

Here’s an idea,

Line A) full body scan. 5-20 minute waits. National ID cards (Pre Screened)

Line B) full physical body search by TSA 1-4 hour waits.

One right we have the allusion of still having is Freedom of Choice.
If I choose to let TSA look at me naked and breeze through screening…my choice.

If I am offended with the above…strip and wait!

I bet in two months line B would be mostly empty!

beatenbutnotbroken on December 29, 2009 at 9:16 PM

They don’t let them on the plane – Passenger 57

- The Cat

MirCat on December 30, 2009 at 4:23 AM

The objective is not safer flying. It’s cessation of passenger flights. If an internal passport is not feasible then make travel too difficult to undertake casually. That way we will be easier to manage. At least that’s what the old Soviet Union felt with its internal passport system.

{^_^}

herself on December 30, 2009 at 4:53 AM

How about having some shades of grey between “no-fly” and “no problem”? If someone is in the TIDE database, maybe it doesn’t make sense to completely _ban_ them from flying just on that information alone. Perhaps security should _read_ the person’s entry in TIDE and make a decision based on that information. At the least, it would be a reason for enhanced scrutiny at the airport.

But I suspect the whole system is set up to _prevent_ TSA agents from making judgment calls. That would be unfair.

blueguitarbob on December 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM

Isaac Yeffet is awesome. Americans ought to demand that we are protected, in the exact same way. Political correctness is forcing our country to change before our eyes and it’s putting us all, in harm’s way.

sinsing on December 31, 2009 at 6:57 AM

Comment pages: 1 2