New Security Measures in US Airports

August 16, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. screening (n.) [skree-ning] – an investigation or examination of something to identify those with a particular feature or problem
Example: Jenny was very happy after passing the screening for cheer dancers who are going to join the competition. 

2. suspicious (adj.) [suh-spish-uhs] – questionable; likely to create doubts or beliefs that something is wrong
Example: The police authorities asked a suspicious man to remove his sunglasses and bring his luggage to the counter.

3. initiative (n.) [ih-nish-ee-uh-tiv] – a plan or strategy created to deal and solve a particular problem
Example: The new garbage disposal system is an initiative of the city officials to solve waste problems.

4. detection (n.) [dih-tek-shuhn] – an act of discovering
Example: The detection program in airports is one way of keeping passengers safe.

5. consensus (n.) [kuhn-sen-suhs] – general agreement among members of a group; absence of conflict
Example: After several hours of discussion, the Justices of the Supreme Court reached a consensus on their final decision on the case.

Read the text below.

Passengers in US airports may soon go through a new security screening that involves a casual conversation with specially-trained officers at a checkpoint.

In this new system, security officers spot suspicious travellers by looking at their behavior and facial expressions during the conversation. This initiative is being tested in Boston Logan International Airport for 60 days.

The US Government came up with this initiative in order to expand the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) detection program.

Under this program, more than 3,000 officers were assigned to observe travellers’ behavior at airports in the country as part of the Screening Passengers by Observation Technique (SPOT). At Boston Logan, however, officers talk and ask questions to passengers and not just observe them.

The new screening system has been compared to Israel’s security measures, which involves officers strictly questioning passengers while checking their passports. Isaac Yeffet, a security consultant in New York and the former security head of Israel’s El Al Airport, said that the system has prevented terrorism by making sure that officers carefully interview travellers before they check-in.

However, the policy in Israel has been criticized by privacy rights advocates. They say that some officers ask unpleasant questions and cause a lot of inconvenience to passengers. In addition, a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office claims that there is no consensus if these behavior detection standards can really solve terrorism problems. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A
·         Do airport security officers in your country apply strict rules?
·         What are some security procedures that they do?

Discussion B

·         What are the kinds of questions that airport securities must ask?
·         Should suspicion be based on the person’s appearance alone? Are there other factors affecting suspicion?

August 16, 2011