November 24th, 2010
03:23 PM ET

Time to reconsider profiling for airport security?


FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the national debate over full-body scans and pat downs at airports rages on, there's another idea that maybe deserves a second look: profiling.

It works pretty darn well for Israel, but questions of political correctness always seem to put an end to the discussion in the U.S. Instead we are reduced to having our crotches grabbed.

However, a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 70 percent of Americans support using available information about passengers to determine who gets picked for extra security screening.

When asked what criteria should be used to select passengers: 86 percent say personal behavior, 78 percent say travel history, 55 percent say nationality, and 50 percent say personal appearance.

This goes to the point that not all profiling is equal. There's a big difference between smart profiling and the less effective kind – based on race, religion, gender or country.

What's important is for the U.S. to improve profiling based on things like behavior, no-fly lists, personal data and travel history.

It turns out many pilots support this kind of profiling. The Daily Beast reports that online discussion groups show pilots complaining that the government is wasting resources by applying the same broad security measures to everyone.

Meanwhile, with all the hype over airline security, consider this: Politico reports that in 99 million domestic flights (that have carried 7 billion U.S. travelers) in the last decade, there have been zero bombs snuck onto airplanes and detonated. Zero.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to airport security, is it time to reconsider profiling?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • The Cafferty File • Travel • Vacation
November 22nd, 2010
04:28 PM ET

Looking forward to airplane travel, full body scans and pat downs?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Two million people a day are expected to travel through this nation's airports Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I am very happy I'm not one of them.

Airline travel this holiday season is shaping up to be a nightmare, thanks to the government's new airport security measures, which include full body scans and invasive pat-downs.

A growing backlash to these measures is coming from all corners, from pilot and flight attendant groups to civil rights and privacy advocates.

Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who hasn't gone through airport security in decades, admits she wouldn't want to submit to an enhanced pat-down if she could avoid it.

Passengers are sharing outrageous stories that show just how embarrassing and invasive all this is:

A flight attendant and breast cancer survivor says she was asked to remove her prosthetic breast during a pat-down, while a bladder cancer survivor wound up soaked with urine during his pat-down.

The latest example comes by way of a viral video of a shirtless boy getting a pat-down from a TSA agent. A partially disrobed child forced to submit to groping by a strange adult. It's just disgraceful.

The TSA insists it's trying to strike a balance between security and privacy concerns. Really?

One industry expert tells the Associated Press that the agency is working under an unachievable mandate since the risks constantly change when terrorists use new tactics. This means the TSA is always in crisis mode, adding new policies to respond to the last terror plot.

And on some level, Americans do get their dilemma. A recent CBS poll shows that four out of five Americans support the use of full body scans.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • Thanksgiving • Travel
February 16th, 2010
07:00 PM ET

TSA makes a 4-yr.-old disabled boy remove leg braces

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

They couldn't catch a guy with a bomb in his shorts aboard a plane bound for Detroit on Christmas day… but they're hell on a disabled child with leg braces.
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The transportation security administration refused to allow a four-year-old disabled boy to pass through airport security without first taking off his leg braces.

A Philadelphia Inquirer columnist reports how screeners at the Philadelphia airport made this insane request of a boy taking his first flight to Walt Disney World last March.

The four-year-old, who was born premature, has malformed ankles and low muscle tone in his legs. He was just starting to walk at the time of the incident.

The parents told airport screeners their son couldn't walk without the braces, which are made of metal and plastic. But that didn't matter to the screener, who insisted this little boy had to walk through the checkpoint on his own.

When the father, a New Jersey police officer, asked to see a supervisor and pointed out his four-year-old clearly wasn't a terrorist, he says the supervisor told him: "You know why we're doing this."

The TSA now says the boy never should have been told to remove his braces. No kidding. They say the parents should have been told to take their son to a private screening area. The TSA has apologized to the family. With all the training these agents go through, maybe they could include a class in common sense.

Here’s my question to you: Is the TSA going too far when it makes a 4-year-old disabled boy remove his leg braces?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Travel
May 19th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Should airports do away with whole-body scans?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Privacy groups want the government to get rid of whole-body imaging machines at airports - because they say the security technology performs a "virtual strip" search and produces "naked" pictures of passengers.

A TSA officer reviews a passenger's carry-on items during a whole body scan at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

These sci-fi looking scanners were first introduced at a Phoenix airport in 2007. There are now 40 of them being tested and used in 19 airports. Some airports use them as a primary security check option instead of metal detectors; while others use it as a secondary option instead of a pat-down.

The Transportation Security Administration says the machines detect metallic and nonmetallic "threat items" to keep people safe, and that the technology is proven and they're highly confident in its detection capability. They also say this option is faster.

TSA officials say they're committed to respecting passenger privacy. The system uses a pair of security officers. The one who works the machine never sees the image, which is viewed behind closed doors by another officer, who never sees the passenger.

Also, the passenger's face is blurred. Officers can't bring cameras or any recording device into the room; and the machines automatically delete the images.

But critics are calling for more oversight, full disclosure for air travelers of what's going on here and legal language that would protect passengers and keep the TSA from changing its policy later on. The ACLU says we shouldn't pretend "being groped and being stripped" are our only options.

A bill was introduced in the House last month to ban these machines.

Here’s my question to you: Should airports do away with whole-body scans because they show "everything"?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • Travel
January 30th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Where do you want to live?

From CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The Pew Researcher Center asked, "Where would Americans most like to live and how do they feel about the place they call home?"

Where would you live if you could live somewhere else?

The bottom line is that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

They surveyed more than 2 thousand adults back in October and found that 46% would rather live in a different type of community than the one they live in. City people want to move out to the country, and country folks want to head for the big city.

And when it comes to big cities what do they have in mind? Well Denver, San Diego and Seattle are the cities most people said they want to live in. Also high on the list: Orlando, Tampa, San Francisco and Phoenix. While Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati are the cities most people don't want to live in.

Even though people are longing to live elsewhere, 8 in 10 rate where they currently live as excellent.

Of course the Pew folks break it down in every way possible so they can tell us things like more men than women want to live in Las Vegas and younger adults would rather live in Los Angeles and New York and so on. It's Friday.

Here’s my question to you: Where would you live if you could live somewhere else?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Cities • Social Issues • Travel
April 10th, 2008
05:07 PM ET

Are you less likely to fly this summer?



FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If you're planning to jet off somewhere for summer vacation, you may want to reconsider your mode of transportation.

That's because this week's massive flight cancellations by American Airlines are likely to spread to other airlines as federal regulators step up their enforcement of maintenance and safety regulations.

American says it's canceled more than 900 flights today. This is the third day in a row of cancellations, which now total close to 2,500. The airline says it expects all its planes to be inspected and ready for flight by Saturday. This has left more than 140,000 passengers stranded. The company's CEO is apologizing to passengers and says he accepts "full responsibility" for failing to meet FAA standards. Meanwhile, Midwest airlines also grounded 13 "MD-80" planes today.

These inspections were ordered to look for potential wiring hazards in wheel wells and other possible faults – things that could cause fires or trouble with the landing gear. In recent weeks, Delta, Southwest and United Airlines have also canceled flights in order to perform safety checks.

One expert says flight delays and cancellations could soon get worse, especially for airlines with older fleets and may last all the way into June. It's estimated that about 35% of the U.S. fleet is more than 25 years old.

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration insists it is just doing its job of enforcing the regulations. But today senators blasted the FAA for "becoming too close to the industry it regulates”, saying it had been neglecting its safety operations.

A lot of these safety issues came to light when it was revealed that Southwest airlines was flying planes even after cracks were discovered in a jet's fuselage.

Here’s my question to you: When making travel plans this summer, are you less likely to fly?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?


Filed under: Airlines • Travel