The Israel airport security model | Arkansas Blog

The Israel airport security model

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Mike Huckabee, among others, has snapped his fingers over the airport security hubbub and pronounced it solved: Follow Israel's model.

Dana Milbank explains why that is no solution.

Replicating the Israeli model in the United States would easily cost $40 billion a year - and possibly many times that. That would wind up being more expensive than supposed big-government boondoggles such as the Troubled Assets Relief Program and the auto bailout, and it would wipe out Republican promises to cut spending.

... In a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, Israel uses profiling, background checks and extensive interviews to filter out the highest-risk fliers, who are then subjected to searches of luggage and person more invasive than anything the Transportation Security Administration has conjured. The air security argument has been about whether Americans would prefer Israeli-style profiling to the current system of body scans and pat-downs. But this overlooks a more fundamental problem: The Israeli system, even if it could be scaled up, is out of our price range.

El Al, Israel's national carrier, reported spending $107,828,000 on security in 2009 for the 1.9 million passengers it carried. That works out to about $56.75 per passenger. The United States, by contrast, spent $5.33 billion on aviation security in fiscal 2010, and the air travel system handled 769.6 million passengers in 2009 (a low year), according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That amounts to $6.93 per passenger.

There's much more. Israel has one (major) airport. We have dozens that would require a million skilled interrogators. It WOULD be a huge government jobs program, though, just the sort of thing the Huckabees of the world decry.

Speaking of the Huckster and airports: He's getting some attention for his over-the-top rant about airport security in context of his own family's demonstration of the need for careful airport security (people who pack guns into security lines).

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