President Obama, who has been signature-happy since passing health-care reform, has now signed off on a new security-check procedure for people flying into the U.S. The new protocols will leverage intelligence information and assessment of threats to help identify passengers who could have “links to terrorism.”
“It’s much more tailored to what intelligence is telling us and what the threat is telling us, as opposed to stopping all individuals from a particular nationality or all individuals using a particular passport,” a senior administration official told the Times.
The idea is that this new system will not rely on matching names to no-fly watch lists, but rather use “fragments of information” about a passenger — family name, nationality, age, etc. — and cross-check them with intelligence reports to see if there are any red flags. The reports will constantly be changing (they are "built around present-day threat situations"), and the official made sure to stress that this isn’t “profiling in the traditional sense it is intelligence-based.”
This system replaces the one hastily launched in January — after a Nigerian passenger attempted to blow up a plane landing in Detroit — in which passengers flying into the country from a list of designated countries were forced to undergo mandatory screenings. Had this new system been in place back when the "Underwear Bomber" attempted to get on his flight, the official said, “we would have had one more chance to stop him.”