Transportation Security Called Into Question after Brussles Attacks

In the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Brussels, attention is again being called to the security of the world's transportation systems. Concerns about port security, airport security and the inspection of cargo being transported on planes, trucks and ships have been at the forefront of the industry for a number of years. In 2012, the Obama administration failed to meet its goal of inspecting 100% of incoming container freight when it arrives at US ports. The government pushed this deadline back to 2016 - which is now upon us.

In the air, the Brussels attacks have reignited debates about aiport security, and the cargo that is transported on passenger flights. Even though these attacks occured in unsecured parts of the airport (as have several others since 2011), critics say that security screenings should take place before entry to the entire terminal. At Domodedovo, pre-terminal security screening was introduced — bringing it into line with airports in Turkey, parts of the Middle East and much of Africa where passengers must pass a checkpoint and a basic x-ray before they can access check-in or arrivals areas.

In Israel, where aviation security is regarded as the most effective in the world, passengers are not automatically screened before approaching airport buildings. Instead, they are subject to profiling in which they pass through checkpoints manned by military or security officials trained to spot and detain anyone most likely to pose a risk.

However, profiling comes at a huge risk to civil liberties — with citizens picked on because of their race or religion.

Israel spends approximately 10 times more per passenger on airport security compared to the United States, according to former TSA Administrator John Pistole.

"And of course, Tel Aviv uses profiling extensively to buy down risk, something our constitution prohibits us from doing," he notes.