DHS Announces Changes To Airline Screening Program

April 2, 2010 12:00 am

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Agency Will Veer Away From Institutionalized Racial Profiling

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced changes to its international airline passenger screening process, discontinuing its heavy reliance on racial profiling to focus more on intelligence-based screening. In the wake of an attempted attack last Christmas, the government had announced intensified airport screening of the citizens of 14 nations flying to the United States.

Today’s announcement makes clear that DHS will continue to use terrorism watch lists which, in their current form, have created numerous false positives, wasted resources and hidden the real threats to aviation security, while targeting innocent people.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the announcement a step in the right direction but warned against the continued use of bloated watch lists.

The following can be attributed to Michael German, ACLU Policy Counsel and former FBI Agent:

“Shifting our security focus to specific intelligence and away from blatant racial profiling shows a thoughtful approach to security. Racial profiling is not only unconstitutional and un-American; it is also ineffective.

“The first line of defense can and should be old fashioned law enforcement and intelligence work that stops plotters before they get to the airport. But while it’s important to have reasonable policies, it’s vital that those policies are implemented and followed correctly on the ground.

“We’re discouraged that DHS will continue to rely on bloated and ineffective watch lists. Until the watch lists are scrubbed clean of innocent Americans, we cannot say our rights are truly protected in the air.”

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