The Arafats in happier days
* Omar Ghraieb: “He was from Fatah and she was from Hamas, the two rival Palestinian movements. They were both serving multiple life sentences. They had participated in killings – she for her role in a Jerusalem restaurant bombing, he in connection with the killing of an Israeli. As lovers go they could not have been more star crossed, yet Nezar and Ahlam Al Tammimi met, fell in love, got engaged and finally married while they were sitting in Israeli jails. Both were among some 450 Palestinian prisoners swapped for Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit last week.”
* Tom Gross adds: Tammimi is one of the worst terrorists of recent years, proudly taking responsibility for her key role in the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem which killed 16 Israelis (including 12 children) and injured 150. (Contrast Israel’s allowing prisoners to meet and marry, with Gilad Shalit’s treatment in Gaza.)
* Bret Stephens: “I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future,” confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman... Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof: “I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians.” What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya’s new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising “the Islamic religion as the core of our new government”; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime’s ban on polygamy since “the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped.” Later this month, Islamist candidates – some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme – will likely sweep Egypt’s parliamentary elections. It doesn’t stop there…”
* Forbes magazine: “Checked bag fees [in the U.S.] have turned many air travelers into Mary Poppins, with carry-on bags that can be jam-packed with a week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, electronics, reading material, an umbrella and a spoon full of sugar – and still fit in an overhead bin (with some shoving). Overhead bins weren’t designed with a plane full of Poppins in mind (since she has traditionally had other means of air travel), so the space always runs out, meaning annoyances for passenger who have to shove their things under the seat in front of them or check their bags at the gate. The jam-packed bags ares also annoying for TSA officers. These bags are so densely packed that imaging machines can’t properly see through them.”
1. Tunisia issues arrest warrant for Suha Arafat
2. Newest UNESCO member 6th worse place in world for perceived press freedom
3. “Why Islamists are winning” (By Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2011)
4. “Behind bars, two Palestinians find love, marriage” (By Omar Ghraieb, Media Line, Oct. 27, 2011)
5. “Netanyahu’s folly” (By Deroy Murdock, National Review, Oct. 28, 2011)
6. “Airlines’ checked-bag fees are bad for security, says TSA chief” (Forbes, Oct. 31, 2011)
TUNISIA ISSUES ARREST WARRANT FOR SUHA ARAFAT
[Note by Tom Gross]
On many occasions during the 1990s, I drew attention to the corruption of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his extravagant wife Suha, who financed her lavish lifestyle with funds supplied by Western governments as “humanitarian aid for the Palestinian people”.
I was bitterly criticized by some Western commentators for drawing attention to this, and I was accused of “undermining the peace process” for pointing out Arafat’s undemocratic ways.
Now, last weekend the Tunisian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Suha Arafat (who moved back to Tunisia following Yasser Arafat’s death in 1994), accusing her of several counts of corruption over the last two decades.
NEWEST UNESCO MEMBER IS THE 6TH WORST PLACE IN WORLD FOR PERCEIVED PRESS FREEDOM
The Palestinian Authority (which as Palestine has just been given a round of applause by the UN cultural and educational body UNESCO) ranks as the 6th worst place in world for press freedom, according to a new survey by Gallup, released today, November 3, 2011.
Question: Do the media in this country have a lot of freedom or not?
Yes No Don’t Know
27% 72% 00% Chad
28% 48% 24% Haiti
29% 47% 24% Armenia
30% 45% 25% Belarus
32% 64% 04% Mauritania
34% 55% 10% Palestinian Territories
Many Western media, such as The New York Times which again this week claimed that freedom is under assault for Israelis within Israel, have next to nothing to say about the situation for Palestinians under Palestinian rule.
I attach four pieces below. Two of the writers, Bret Stephens and Deroy Murdock, are subscribers to this email list, as are several of the people cited in these articles, including New York Times columnists Tom Friedman and Nicholas Kristof and Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis
-- Tom Gross
“GET READY FOR A LONG ISLAMIST WINTER”
Why Islamists are winning
When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.
By Bret Stephens
Wall Street Journal
November 1, 2011
“This is not an Islamic Revolution.”
So opined Olivier Roy, arguably Europe’s foremost authority on political Islam, in an essay published days after Hosni Mubarak was forced from power in February. “Look at those involved in the uprisings, and it is clear that we are dealing with a post-Islamist generation,” he wrote. “This is not to say that the demonstrators are secular; but they are operating in a secular political space, and they do not see in Islam an ideology capable of creating a better world.”
Mr. Roy wasn’t alone in the sangfroid department. “I am not in the least bit worried about the Muslim Brotherhoods in Jordan or Egypt hijacking the future,” confided New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, with the caveat that their secular opponents would need some time to organize. Added his colleague Nicholas Kristof in a dispatch from Cairo: “I agree that the Muslim Brotherhood would not be a good ruler of Egypt, but that point of view also seems to be shared by most Egyptians.”
What reassurance. Nine months on, the Islamist Nahda party has swept to victory in Tunisia, the one Arab state in which secularist values were said to be irreversibly fixed. Libya’s new interim leader, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, came to office promising “the Islamic religion as the core of our new government”; as a first order of business, he promises to revoke the Gadhafi regime’s ban on polygamy since “the law is contrary to Shariah and must be stopped.” Later this month, Islamist candidates – some of them Muslim Brothers, others even more religiously extreme – will likely sweep Egypt’s parliamentary elections.
It doesn’t stop there. Hezbollah has effectively ruled Lebanon since it forced the collapse of a pro-Western government in January. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s Islamist prime minister, cruised to a third term in parliamentary elections in June. Hamas, winner in the last vote held by the Palestinian Authority in 2006, would almost certainly win again if Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dared put his government to an electoral test.
When secular politics fail, Islamism is the last big idea standing.
Why have Islamists been the main beneficiaries of Muslim democracy? None of the usual explanations really suffices. Islamists are said to be the unintended beneficiaries of the repression they endured under autocratic secular regimes. True up to a point. But why then have their secular opponents in places like Egypt been steadily losing ground since the Mubarak regime fell by the wayside? Alternatively, we are told that secular values never had the chance to sink deep roots in Muslim-majority countries. Also true up to a point. But how then Tunisia or Turkey – to say nothing of the Palestinians, who until the early 1990s were often described as the most secularized Arab society?
Closer to the mark is Mideast scholar Bernard Lewis, who noted in an April interview with the Journal that “freedom” is fairly novel as a political concept in the Arab world. “In the Muslim tradition,” Mr. Lewis noted, “justice is the standard” of good government – and the very thing the ancien regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya so flagrantly traduced. Little wonder, then, that Mr. Erdogan’s AK party stands for “Justice and Development,” the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s new party is “Freedom and Justice” and, further afield, the leading Islamist party in Indonesia calls itself “Prosperous Justice.”
Still, the Islamists’ claim to “justice” goes only so far to account for their electoral successes. There is also the comprehensive failure of the Muslim world’s secular movements to provide a better form of politics.
The national-socialist brew imported from Europe in the 1940s by Michel Aflaq became the Baathist tyrannies of present-day Syria and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Pan-Arabism’s appeal faded well before the death of its principal champion, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Socialism failed Algeria; Gadhafi’s “Third Universal Theory” failed Libya. French-style laïcité descended into kleptocracy in Tunisia and quasi-military control in Turkey. Periodic attempts at market liberalization yielded dividends in places like Bahrain and Dubai but were never joined by political liberalization and were often shot through with cronyism.
That sour history leaves Islamism as the last big idea standing – and standing at a moment when tens of millions of young Muslims find themselves undereducated, semi- or unemployed, and uniquely receptive to a world view with deep historic roots and heroic ambitions.
What does its future hold?
Optimists say it need not be a reprise of Iran; that it could look more like Turkey; that the term “moderate Islamist” isn’t an oxymoron, at least in a relative sense. Then again, Turkey’s domestic and foreign policies inspire little confidence that moderate Islamism will be anything other than moderately repressive and moderately radical. As for Iran, signs of its own long-awaited turn toward moderation are as fleeting as the Yeti’s footsteps in drifting snow.
The good news is that after 31 years most Iranians have grown sick of Islam always being the answer, and the collapse of the regime awaits only the next ripe opportunity. The bad news is that a similar time-frame may be in store for the rest of the Muslim world, until it too becomes disenchanted with Islamist promises. Get ready for a long winter.
TWO MURDERERS FALL FOR EACH OTHER...
Behind bars, two Palestinians find love, marriage
By Omar Ghraieb
The Media Line
October 27, 2011
He is Fatah, she is Hamas; they were both freed in last week’s prisoner swap
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – He was from Fatah and she was from Hamas, the two rival Palestinian movements. They were both serving multiple life sentences. They had participated in killings – she for her role in a Jerusalem restaurant bombing, he in connection with the killing of an Israeli.
As lovers go they could not have been more star crossed, yet Nezar and Ahlam Al Tammimi met, fell in love, got engaged and finally married while they were sitting in Israeli jails. Both were among some 450 Palestinian prisoners swapped for Israeli hostage Gilad Shalit last week.
“Nobody believes me when I say that I never ever lost hope. I always saw the light at the end of the tunnel and now I am free,” Ahlam, 31, declares.
Married behind bars, the two now plan a big wedding – as soon as they can finally see each other. They don’t know when that will happen: Under the conditions of their release, Nezar was returned to his home the West Bank while Ahlam was flown to her family in Jordan.
Ahlam was born in 1980 to a Palestinian family that moved from Palestine to Jordan in 1967. Ahlam has two brothers and four sisters. Recalling Ahlam’s childhood, her brother Fakhr Al Tammimi said: “Ahlam was a rebellious child with a strong personality. She never took the easy way and always thought out of the box. My sister had Palestine in her heart and always wanted to go back there.”
In 1998, Ahlam began studying media and journalism at Birzeit University in Ramallah. In September 2000, as the Second intifada erupted, Ahlam felt like she had to do something. During her university years, Ahlam was working for Al-Milad magazine and Al-Istiqlal television station, both local media outlets, because she believed in working and studying at the same time.
“I met a fellow Palestinian in the university who inspired me, it turned out he was a member of Hamas. I expressed my desire to join them. He told me he has to ask his superior because Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigades have no female members. After a few days, he came with an approval, which made me the first female Ezzeldin Al-Qassam brigade member,” Ahlam explains.
Ahlam helped Ezz Al Din Al Massri, 20, to blow himself up in Sabarro restaurant in Jerusalem in August 2001, which killed 16 Israelis and injured 150. Her role had been to choose the location and secure transportation to reach that location. Not long after, she was arrested.
Israeli security forces stormed Ahlam’s house at 3:00 a.m. They handcuffed her, blindfolded her and dragged her into interrogation. She was sentenced to do 16 life sentences for her deed.
“Israeli police used both mental and physical torture on me to admit my role in the operation but it wasn’t important because my fellow members had already confessed about my role,” Ahlam shared. During that time, Ahlam and her family were mourning the loss of their mother. “Aside from the mental and physical torture, I was also going tough times because of my mother’s death. Things were harder and darker.”
“I was placed in solitary confinement many times, sometimes for a reason and sometimes for no reason. The cell is so small and dark with dark walls and built underground. It’s just like being jailed in a tomb. If I hadn’t of turned to God, praying and Qura’an, I would have lost my mind.” Ahlam recalls.
“Let me share with you a funny story, I was sentenced with an extra year to my 16 lifetimes because I had a fight with an Israeli female prison guard. This incident kept me laughing for days, as if I would care less about an extra year added to my jail time of 1,548 years.” Ahlam says laughing.
Ahlam wasn’t veiled before jail, but she began to wear the hijab in jail and also got her first Palestinian identification card while in Jail.
Ahlam heard about Nezar Al Tammimi, her relative, 38, who was jailed in 1993 during his university years. He was also studying in Birzeit back then. He was sentenced to life in prison for belonging to a Fatah cell responsible of kidnapping and killing an Israeli in the Jewish community of Beit El near Ramallah. Ahlam admired him. Ahlam actually visited Nezar in jail before she was jailed herself. The spark of mutual admiration that they felt back then developed over time into love.
Ahlam and Nezar started exchanging letters while in jail. “Each letter would take a month to reach Nezar and another month to get his response back. I would place the letter in the mail and send it to my family. My family would send it to Nezar’s family. Nezar’s family would send it to him.”
“Nezar would go through the same process to send me a letter. Our letters were so precious, they took so much time and they were our only means of communication. We would share experiences, express our love and share our virtual dreams of being and living together after our marriage,” Ahlam says with a broad smile and a sparkle in her eyes.
The two were not only separated by bars but by membership in rival movements. After briefly sharing control of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas fought each other for control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 and have failed to patch up their differences despite a declaration of national unity last spring.
On an August day in 2005, Nezar’s fellow inmates threw him a party to celebrate his engagement to Ahlam. Simultaneously, Ahlam celebrated a party in parallel with her inmates. After that, their one and only meeting came in March 2010, when they were both summoned by the Israeli intelligence to be questioned about the relationship between them and their future plans.
“After exchanging letters and falling in love we both decided to get engaged even if we were both jailed for life,” she recounts.
Their fathers arranged the documents and sent them copies of the marriage contract in jail. Nezar sent his wife wedding rings but the Israeli prison administration confiscated them all, she says.
“Initially, it was purely a familial attachment ungoverned by factional politics even though our link is a practical demonstration of the factions’ call for Palestinian unity,” Ahlam told Uruknet.info, a Middle East website. “As Nezar and I have been united by this engagement we hope to be a beautiful demonstration to the factions of the unity that is possible, God willing, through comprehensive reconciliation.”
With the release of the Palestinian prisoners October 18, Nezar was sent to Nabi Saleh, his hometown in the West Bank where he was welcomed as both a hero and bridegroom.
But Ahlam, denied entry to the West Bank as a condition for her release, says she was obligated to fly to Jordan to join her family. The couple met briefly at Cairo Airport’s Sheraton Hotel on their way to their final destinations.
Arriving in Jordan, Ahlam says she was overwhelmed when large numbers of family, friends and fans came to Amman’s Queen Alya airport to welcome her. “I only met my family twice during my 10 years of jail time, which made me drown in despair sometimes. I missed them so much.
Meeting my father and the rest of the family means the world to me,” Ahlam says in tears.
Ahlam says she already feels rejuvenated by being reunited with her family. “There is a whole new generation in my family that I missed out on. Photographs and names have turned into people that I am eager to know,” Ahlam adds happily.
Ahlam’s dream now is to settle down after a huge wedding that reunites her with her husband Nezar. “All I dream about now is to live with Nezar, settling down and raising our future children.”
According to Ahlam, Plan A is Nezar’s trip to Jordan so they can hold a real wedding there and live together. If Nezar is denied access to Jordan, then Plan B is for both Ahlam and Nezar to request permission to visit Gaza and settle there with the support of the Palestinian Authority and Gaza’s Hamas government.
Ahlam is trying her best to acquaint herself with all the new technology that has become available during the years she was imprisoned, including means to communicate with Nezar till they reunite. “I was told that we can cam-chat with each other using motion picture and voice both at the same time, whatever that means,” Ahlam adds with a laugh, “It certainly sounds like a cooler way to communicate than the mobile telephone.”
(This is a follow-up to previous dispatches on this list, including this one which Deroy Murdock links to in his article at NRO.)
THE TERRORIST SWAP WAS A DISPROPORTIONATE AND LIKELY DEADLY DECISION
The terrorist swap was a disproportionate and likely deadly decision.
By Deroy Murdock
National Review Online
October 28, 2011
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, previously counted among the toughest leaders in the civilized world, has become softer than the secretary general of the United Nations. Netanyahu recently ransomed a kidnapped Israeli soldier whom Hamas had held hostage since 2006. The price for Sgt. Gilad Shalit’s freedom? Israel will free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Many are hardened terrorists with Israeli and even American blood on their hands. This colossal breach of justice for these victims injects this toxic population back into society. Some of them almost certainly will express their gratitude with machine guns and dynamite.
The first wave of 477 prisoners swapped for Shalit includes at least three terrorists who have slaughtered Americans.
Ahlam Tamimi conspired to attack a Sbarro restaurant on Aug. 9, 2001. This Jerusalem suicide bombing killed 16 – including Passaic, N.J.’s Shoshana Greenbaum, 31 – and wounded 130 more.
Now carefree in Jordan, despite 16 life sentences, Tamimi has no regrets.
“It was a calculated act, performed with conviction and faith in Allah,” she told a Hamas website. “Jihad warriors are always ready to die as martyrs, to be arrested – or to succeed. I managed to overcome the barrier of prison and was released. Why should I repent?”
Abd al-Hadi Rafa Ghanim of Islamic Jihad grabbed the wheel of a Jerusalem-bound bus and steered it into a ravine in 1989, killing eleven (including Philadelphia’s Rita Susan Levin, 39) and injuring 27. Ghanim was serving 16 life sentences.
Ibrahim Muhammad Yunus Dar Musa received 17 years for, among other things, helping to murder Detroit native Dr. David Applebaum, 51, and his daughter, Nava, 20, on her wedding eve. Five others were killed and at least 50 wounded in the Sept. 9, 2003, suicide bombing at Jerusalem’s Café Hillel.
Abd al-Aziz Yussuf Mustafa Salehi famously waved his bloody hands from the window of a Ramallah police station, in which he and other members of a mob fatally flogged and killed Israeli reservists Vadim Norzhich and Yosef Avrahami. These October 2000 murders earned Salehi a life sentence.
Maedh Waal Taleb Abu Sharakh, Majdi Muhammad Ahmed Amr, and Fadi Muhammad Ibrahim al-Jaaba of Hamas planned the March 5, 2003, suicide bombing of Haifa’s bus 37, killing 17 and wounding 53. These murderers received 19, 19, and 18 life sentences respectively.
Nasir Sami Abd al-Razzaq Ali al Nasser-Yataima planned the Passover 2002 suicide bombing that killed 30 and wounded 140 at Netanya’s Park Hotel, earning him 29 life terms, plus 20 years.
In addition to the 469 other prisoners released on October 18, Israel soon will free yet another 550 dangerous characters – all to rescue one Israeli soldier.
With all due respect and sympathy for Sergeant Shalit, this was a stupid, disproportionate, and likely deadly decision.
As Nadav Shragai wrote in Jerusalem Viewpoints, an estimated 50 percent of terrorists in previous Israeli prisoner swaps and “goodwill gestures” subsequently executed, plotted, or supported terror assaults. In fact, Israel previously had freed participants in the aforementioned Passover massacre and Café Hillel bombing. Israeli officials twice had discharged Ramez Sali Abu Salmim. He eventually blew himself up in Café Hillel.
In October 2010, the U.S.-Israeli Almagor Terror Victims Association counted at least 30 attacks involving Islamic extremists liberated by Israel’s government. Almagor reports that 177 people (pictured above) have been murdered, and many others injured, in attacks that Israel could have prevented simply by keeping these savages caged.
While Israel now has complicated its own anti-terrorist vigilance, America cannot rest either. Some of these freed killers will remain in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, from which they can attack Israelis. That would be bad enough.
Some of the more adventurous terrorists, however, might use their new and undeserved freedom to target Americans. Why not teach Israel’s chief benefactor and staunchest ally a lesson by, say, blasting a U.S. bank branch elsewhere in the Middle East – or beyond? No American embassy, hotel, military base, or bar full of laughing, singing U.S. tourists is any safer for Netanyahu’s folly – from London to Lima.
And why not bomb Americans in Long Island or Los Angeles? A quick flight from, say, Cairo through Frankfurt to Mexico City, and then over the well-trampled route across America’s wide-open southern frontier (or via the even more vulnerable northern border), and jihad in America can become a reality for any of these hundreds of dedicated terrorists whom Israel has escorted right onto the street.
Also, Netanyahu idiotically has fixed the terrorist-soldier exchange rate at approximately 1,000 to one. With 3,997 Palestinians still in custody as of August 31, not counting the 1,027 swap beneficiaries, Hamas needs to kidnap just four Israeli soldiers in order to demand freedom for all of its detained comrades. My friend Jacob Laksin reports in FrontPageMag.com that Palestinians in Gaza already have begun to chant: “The people want a new Gilad!”
Ironically, President Obama, whom many consider soft on terrorism, has deployed drones and Navy SEALS overseas to blow major terrorists into splinters, due process be damned. (Hooray for that!) In contrast, Netanyahu – approximately the Ronald Reagan of Israel – liberates thousands of Islamic-extremist killers, like a one-man Israeli ACLU.
Netanyahu totally ignores these wise words:
“Do not release jailed terrorists. . . . Prisoner releases only embolden terrorists by giving them the feeling that even if they are caught, their punishment will be brief. Worse, by leading terrorists to think such [prisoner-exchange] demands are likely to be met, they encourage precisely the kind of terrorist blackmail they are supposed to defuse.” [Bold in original.]
This sound advice was offered by none other than . . . Benjamin Netanyahu on page 144 of his 1995 book Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies Can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism.
Israel urgently needs something far closer to the Obama model. Rather than “punish” terrorist killers with meaningless multiple life sentences, Israel should give them the death penalty – good and hard. Terrorists neither can be demanded, nor exchanged, nor kill again, while dead. Israel should execute this filth, cremate them, and then dump their ashes into the Mediterranean. They no longer will bother anyone, save for a few unfortunate fish that will deserve apologies for having to swim amid such retched refuse.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TOOTHPASTE
Airlines’ checked-bag fees are bad for security, says TSA chief
By Kashmir Hill
Forbes magazine (USA)
October 31, 2011
Checked bag fees have turned many air travelers into Mary Poppins, with carry-on bags that can be jam-packed with a week’s worth of clothing, toiletries, electronics, reading material, an umbrella and a spoon full of sugar – and still fit in an overhead bin (with some shoving). Overhead bins weren’t designed with a plane full of Poppins in mind (since she has traditionally had other means of air travel), so the space always runs out, meaning annoyances for passenger who have to shove their things under the seat in front of them or check their bags at the gate. The jam-packed bags ares also annoying for TSA officers, said TSA chief John Pistole at a speech for defense lawyers on Friday. These bags are so densely packed that imaging machines can’t properly see through them.
“It’s harder to inspect what’s in there,” said Pistole, who was introduced to the group as the holder of the “toughest, most thankless, least understood job in America.” “When you hear about things getting through security, that’s part of the reason why.”
This is not the first time that airlines’ checked-bag fees have been raised as a troublesome issue for airline security. Earlier this year, the U.S Travel Association suggested that the government force airlines to make the first checked bag a freebie in order to reduce the number of bags that need to be screened in security lines and make the process go faster.
“There’s always opinions about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” said Pistole, whose agency, which will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary on November 19th, seems to draw more negative attention than a passenger with the same name as someone on the No-Fly list.
Pistole’s talk at the annual DRI conference was on the “evolution and future of the TSA” from the good old pre-9/11 days of metal detectors – “ You probably remember nostalgically being able to walk out to the gate and meet your friends or family,” said Pistole – to the current state of airport security, including whole-body imaging scanners and intimate touching by TSA officers rather than loved ones. As for what the future holds, Pistole said the distant future holds the possibility of liquid screens that might allow us to carry wine and perfume on planes. For the immediate future, the agency is testing out less intensive security screens that the rest of us might one day enjoy, as long as we’re willing to volunteer more information about ourselves in advance of flying.
The TSA began running the “PreCheck” pilot this month at four airports (Miami, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Detroit). Frequent fliers with Delta and American Airlines can go through a pre-check, and be pre-screened using TSA watchlists. If they’re found to be low-risk travelers, they’re allowed to go to dedicated security lanes where they get to keep on their jackets, shoes, and belts, and can keep their liquids in their bags. Pistole said they’ve had 40,000 people go through since the beginning of the month and that they’ve “had success with it.” The reason Delta and American scored the pilot partnership is because their systems are compatible TSA’s Secure Flight system, said Pistole.
Other changes TSA is embracing: showing a generic body when performing “naked scans” and allowing kids to keep their shoes on and not be patted down. Pistole admitted that it was a hassle for parents to take their kids’ shoes off. “And given their size, you can’t put much explosive material in their shoes anyway,” he added.
Taking a cue from Israel, the TSA is also trying to be more chatty. “[Israeli airport security officers] engage people in conversation,” said Pistole. “For a few months now, we’ve been having officers at Boston Logan and now Detroit engage the person, make conversation and see how they respond. Do they make eye contact? Do they seem nervous?”
“I’m trying to build a system that has more com men sense and rationality that enhances security by allowing us to focus on the higher risks,” said Pistole. And hopefully, it will be a system that involves less full-body touching.