TSA express lines "dangerous": expert



TSA wants to permit certain frequent travelers to go through less rigorous screening, which would allow the TSA to focus on the passengers it knows the least about.


In exchange for providing TSA with some additional personal and travel information, certain pre-screened passengers will be eligible to go through special expedited security lanes, where they'll still go through metal detectors, but may be able to keep their shoes on and leave their laptops in the carry-ons.

TSA administrator John Pistole told CBS News, "The vast majority of people pose no threat to civil aviation, so how can we identify those people before they get to the airport, before the checkpoint, and then, when they get there, to expedite them by allowing us to focus more on the unknowns."

Beginning this fall, CBS News Homeland Security Correspondent Bob Orr reported, selected frequent fliers boarding Delta Airlines in Atlanta and Detroit and American Airlines in Miami and Dallas will be invited into the program, as will U.S. citizens who've already passed background checks by Customs and Border Protection. Intially, Orr reported, the program will affect 5,000 to 8,000 passengers directly.

Nearly two million airline passengers pass through security checkpoints at the nation's airports every day.

Pistole said, "If we are looking for a needle in a haystack, let's separate the knowns out of that and then have a smaller stack to look at."

But on "The Early Show," Boyd said the concept behind the new program is the issue.

He said, "(The program) will give (TSA) time to focus on the untrusted travelers, which means if you don't go through a government background check, you are going to be untrusted. ... You're going to have to go through the same security either way, but what really scares me is you're not going to be a trusted person unless you go through a government background check -- that's scary."

"The TSA is not a professionally-managed organization," he said. "The problem with it is we have politics involved. We have go and show -- the other day they announced they found a bag with 13 knives in it. I'm not impressed. The reality of this is, this is show and it's not going to improve anything."

But others say the program will be a game-changer.

CBS News Transportation Safety Analyst Mark Rosenker said, "It is going to create an environment where it is risk-based and intelligence-driven, rather than just the random processes that you're going through right now."

But Boyd said the potential to profile people is a real threat with the new pilot program.

" The profiling here would be you didn't go through a government check. And let's remember, most of the 9/11 hijackers could have passed a background check, unless you're profiling. So the reality of it is, this is one of the things, it's a lot of show and no-go, and I don't buy it. And it's a shame that people just look into this and say, 'It will be just great.' The reality is, look beneath the surface, because it's not an improvement in security, and we do have major security issues."

"Early Show" co-anchor remarked the timing of the program seems a little bit odd, coming in a week in which there was a report saying there have been 25,000 breaches since 9/11 alone.

Boyd said he'd suggest the government switch to professional security.

"The people in the blue shirts that go through our stuff, they're great people, but at the top, we don't have people anticipating security threats. (September 11) was not a passenger screening failure, it was a total security failure. We have to have a security system other than the TSA, which isn't working, that anticipates threats, has mitigation programs, and looks ahead and thinks like a terrorist. We don't have that. Believe me, we're no safer than we were before 9/11 regardless of the press releases put out."


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