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Tight airline security comes under scrutiny

January 5, 2010 12:14:00 AM PST
We all want to be safe when we get onto an airplane, but the challenge is finding the right way to do it. Tuesday, President Obama meets with his national security team about ways to improve airport security and the administration is already taking action.

Starting Monday, people flying into the United States from 14 mostly Muslim countries were subject to heightened security measures like full-body pats downs and scans. However, the new rules are coming under fire.

Some foreign countries do not like it. Also, civil rights groups do not like it, saying it amounts to discrimination.

Trying to get to the land of the free, should not cost people their rights. That is the argument according to civil rights groups that spoke out against the TSA's new security measures.

"I think it would be an understatement to say C.A.I.R. is disappointed in the new policies," says Zahra Billoo, from C.A.I.R.

C.A.I.R. is the Council for American Islamic Relations. The group points out that most of the people from the countries on the list are Muslim.

"We feel that racial and religious profiling is an ineffective security measure," says Billoo.

Kristen Lee, a TSA spokesperson, says it does not profile "As is always the case, TSA security measures are based on threat, not ethnic or religious background."

However, some travelers aren't buying it.

"It sounds to me a lot like racial profiling and if security standards are going to be stepped up, I think that they should apply to everyone," says Toby Haskett, from Arcada.

It wasn't just C.A.I.R. that expressed concern. The ACLU also spoke out against the new measures.

"It's important that we don't give up our values for a false sense of security," says Andre Segura, from the ACLU.

Both groups would like to see officials focusing on people's behavior, not their race, religion or where they are from. But a lot of passengers are happy to hear about tightened security. Some are even willing to set aside their personal beliefs in the name of safety.

"I'm a big believer of privacy, but you have to weigh the benefit to the many, the rights of the few. I think, at this point and at this stage, we need to be safe," says Irma Newdorf, from New Jersey.

"I will go with safety. I really don't think that we shouldn't worry that much what other people think, it's our safety, our citizens' safety," says Harmeet Anand from Fremont.

Nigeria is not happy about being on the list. The suspected terrorist was from Nigeria. Officials there say the actions of one person should not impact 150 million people. Algeria had a similar reaction.

As for if the regulations are in place currently, passengers say security is definitely tight out there in the world. However, some European countries are still working to get the regulations in place.


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